Thimbleweed Park (Xbox One) Review

By Josh Di Falco 02.12.2017

Review for Thimbleweed Park on Xbox One

With the rapid evolution of videogames within the past ten years, living in a time when LucasArts and Sierra Entertainment were dominating the DOS-days feels like aeons ago. However, thanks to the rise of independent developers and the "indie" scene, there are many modern day games with plenty of throwbacks to those earlier times. Thimbleweed Park from Terrible Toybox is a great rendition of those classic point-and-click adventure titles, as two detectives - Agent Ray and Agent Reyes - attempt to solve a murder in the little County by the name of Thimbleweed. After reviewing across PC, PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch, Cubed3 rounds off the job lot with a review of the Xbox One release.

The game begins with a "tutorial" of sorts with an unnamed character, which is useful to get used to the control mechanics. The main thing that is prevalent with Thimbleweed Park's control scheme is that any items, objects, and environmental elements can be interacted with in a variety of ways. In order to figure out the puzzles and the like, specific interactions need to be conducted to solve them. The bottom third of the screen displays the different actions, such as "Open" and "Close," as well as character-based interactions such as "Talk To" and "Give."

There is an attempt to help out with these interaction by highlighting one of them when the on-screen cursor hovers over a point-of-interest, but it is an ill attempt. It seems like the default action for everything is for the character to explain what it is. The only action that truly works some of the time is the "Open/Close" actions for doors, but even still, there can be grating moments where a character closes the door instead of walking through it because the game thought that closing it made more sense.

Screenshot for Thimbleweed Park on Xbox One

Figuring out what actions to perform is a matter of trial-and-error, and the game is extremely forgiving with this formula. Unlike the older LucasArts and Sierra titles, for instance, Thimbleweed Park doesn't contain any dead ends or wrong choices that result in instant-deaths. Where the older titles constantly had death lurking around any wrong interaction, this modern day puzzler refuses to allow such a happenstance. As such, any incorrect interactions just spout back some witty dialogue by the characters of their refusal. While this takes away the fear of losing away, this is already quite challenging without that unnecessary feature.

While Agents Ray and Reyes are trying to solve the murder of the body found under the bridge, Delores, the niece of the town's famous Pillow Factory entrepreneur, has aspirations to become a videogame designer instead of inheriting the wealthy business, and Ransome the Insulting Clown is a *beep* machine of horrendous expletives. At first, these characters seem to be unrelated to each other, each involved in their own stories, but what Thimbleweed Park does well is tell a tale through the different characters that slowly intertwine with each other. They are caricatures, as the two agents feels like a parody of The X-Files, while Ransome is a *beeping* version of Krusty the Clown, and Delores is the typical computer programmer dork with no friends, and a sarcastic humour at the expense of the rest of her family.

Screenshot for Thimbleweed Park on Xbox One

Just because puzzles can be figured out with trial-and-error, Thimbleweed Park doesn't exactly paint out the exact solutions to issues. Instead, thinking outside of the box is a requirement, and many logical puzzles are solved with illogical or unorthodox methods that, at times, can be infuriating to figure out. However, the difficulty is another throwback to the games of old, as they were equally tough and almost impossible sometimes without a hint guide. Sometimes, the solution to one character's puzzle is found in another character's story and, as such, constantly switching between them to progress in their respective stories is mandatory.

Switching between these characters on-the-fly is a seamless experience, regardless what locations they find themselves in. Early on, Agent Ray's murder investigation leads to her being abducted and waking up in a sewer, which is when she needs the help of Agent Reyes from above-ground to assist her escape. The logical answer to finding the sewer entrance fails, the sole solution actually lies in getting a dime that was lying on the street above. It's this type of thinking that Thimbleweed Park tries to condition, and while it's grating at times and frustratingly difficult, it's rewarding as the story opens up.

Screenshot for Thimbleweed Park on Xbox One

The story itself has this overbearing sense of mystery where nothing is always as it seems. From the murder investigation into the discovered body, or the constant feelings of the signals being felt in the air, everything is ambiguous and is almost always left up to the self-interpretation. Thimbleweed Park tosses up more questions than answers, and is very open-ended. While it only deliberately answers a handful of questions, the game does end almost unsatisfactory, which is a shame considering how great the build-up is.

The pixelated graphics are a deliberate attempt at feeling like a spiritual successor to the LucasArts releases, and it does a fantastic job of bringing a nostalgic feel to the experience. However, the pixelation is also used as a butt for some of the jokes in-game, such as when Agent Ray tells Agent Reyes to hurry up and photograph the dead body before it begins to pixelate. It's not even the graphics that gets self-referenced, though, as Delores knocks the old Sierra games for their constant death-ends approach to expand the longevity, while the town's sheriff has a funny line about his current cut-scene going on for too long. The in-jokes is something that fans of the point-and-click classics will greatly appreciate, although the option for it is automatically set off in the options, but turning it on enlightens the game, and it doesn't overstep its boundaries.

Screenshot for Thimbleweed Park on Xbox One

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Thimbleweed Park is a modern throwback to the classic point-and-click adventures from LucasArts, with heavy influences from Maniac Mansion and The Secret of Monkey Island. It has an engaging story at the beginning that slowly intertwines with the various other characters to become a little more open, as there seem to be bigger, underlying issues than figuring out who the killer is. Although the game is forgiving by banishing cheap deaths to extend gameplay, it doesn't make the puzzles any easier to figure out. Thinking outside the box for illogical solutions to logical puzzles is the way to go, yet it can be frustrating and grating at times.

Developer

Terrible Toybox

Publisher

Terrible Toybox

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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