Your TWP Review

This is what I posted to Steam:

Perfect classic adventure game. A must buy for adventure game fans. A great entry point for the new generation to this kind of games. Be warned though this is not the kind of game that spoonfeds the gameplay to you. You need to keep your brain open.

-Great story
-Great characters
-Clever dialogue
-Many easter eggs from Ron Gilbert’s LucasFilms/Arts games
-Puzzle balance (except a couple ones)
-Great pixel art

(I honestly cannot find one directly but if I must)
-Need to wait for some puzzles
-Too many red herring ojbects
-Less hotspots in some hardly arrived rooms
-No dialogue puzzles

Verdict: Having seen Ron Gilbert’s name on an adventure game is an enormous joy! BUY IT!

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Upon finishing the game, it’s time for a new review.

Firstly, before getting into the meat and potatoes…

You should buy this game.

Thimbleweed Park is a modern game which uses (and improves upon) the tried and tested formulas of classic LucasArts point-and-click adventures from the 1980s and 1990s. In a sense, it feels like an anachronism and a relic carefully handled and newly enshrined in some dark corner of a videogame museum which only exists in the Elysium of a very distinctive and largely maligned videogame genre, yet it reminds us of just how immersive and rewarding those old formulas still are when they are executed with as much thought, care, flair and brilliance as has been captured by Terrible Toybox with this shining title.

The mastery of this title is manifold and all the individual points of excellence combine symphoniously to create an experience which is ultimately hugely rewarding – and this is a viewpoint largely agreed upon by those who have finished the game but for one huge sticking point which has been a buzzkill for many: the ending. Yet, how the game ends has been built to meticulously throughout the whole intertwining journey of the happenings in Thimbleweed County and the narratives and sympathies of the lead characters.

Taking place in a neo-noir setting in 1987, the clues constantly present themselves about the gnarly fate of Thimbleweed County, and the pacing of the unfolding of this grand tale – from a simple murder story transmogrifying surreptiously into musings on the meaning of life and determinism – is both exquisite and mysteriously undermining, leading to a climax which might best be described as being startingly harrowing, empty but yet purposeful.

The puzzle design is among the best and most consistent ever seen in a game of the genre, with every solution being well led to and well thought out and a total absence of what we call “moon logic” (completely irrational puzzle solutions). The nature of the puzzles and how they flow and interlink help move the story along at a very satisfying pace and the game continuously incentivises one to explore and truly listen to what characters in the game have to say. The ambience and mystery of the story is likely to stir the player, which is one of the big reasons why the ending is so divisive – the gamer becomes truly immersed in the world and is very invested in the “answers”. In this sense, the game has knocked it out the park and then into and out of orbit with its execution of interactive and dialogue driven gameplay.

All of this is achieved even in dealing with five different playable characters who each have their own purposes, problems and goals.The story pacing brings us to their plights and their journeys within the meta-world of an evil (or is he?) genius rather than just clinging onto the red herring of a simple murder mystery plot – one involving an individual who we are never told much about, nor meet people who sympathise toward him.

The visuals and sound certainly help to bolster the wholesome experience of the game, and though the music in the game isn’t as memorable or melodically tuneful as in many other games, it is completely apposite. The pixel art is truly a feast; especially with the use of multiple layers of parallax scrolling, which is something we simply didn’t see with the old classics from the 1990s.

The game is flooded with various in-jokes and references which fans of old classics will typically enjoy, and I’m no different. However, when playing it did occur to me that it can at times verge on being something which panders to an echochamber of the already converted, and I wonder if enough has been done to pull in a new audience to enjoy a genre of game which in the case of Thimbleweed Park has been mastered and even surpassed the old golden standard.

My main concern for this game is that the gem won’t be played by as many people as it should be. Forget that it relies fundamentally on old core values and specific execution and remember, rather, that it’s an outstanding game – period. At least, that’s what I’d like to convince people of, and especially those who have not delved into the world of point-and-click adventures who, if they’d just give it a shot, might be rewarded much more than they could’ve imagined.

+++++ The ending (others might give it a 5-minus score).
+++ Outstanding gameplay with nigh on flawless puzzle design and flow.
+++ Immersive and intriguing dialogue and story which links in seamlessly and intrinsically with the puzzle design.
++ Super production value all around, with very few negative quirks in the design.
++ Fantastic pixel art graphics and a memorable set of locations and scenes.
++ Tremendous details; most notably the huge library with more than a 1000 readable 2-page books in the Mansion Mansion.

  • Excellent sound and very fun and appropriate voice acting – it doesn’t take itself too seriously and strikes a great balance.
  • Casual mode is a very good introduction for those who are new to the genre who might be daunted by a very different way of thinking in gaming.

± Self referential nature (in an overarching point & click meta sense) of the game will likely be divisive and there’s a likely disconnect there for a newer audience.
± The ending has proven to be extremely divisive. It’s a brave ending which is balls to the wall, but certainly meticulously crafted and intended. Nonetheless, it has been jarring for many – and perhaps that just adds to the intrigue.

  • The one big minus I would wager is the overall holistic view of the game, in that I’m not sure it’s ignited a new furore over the genre of point & click adventures that one might have hoped for.
  • For all the puzzle brilliance, perhaps we could have more puzzles involving pushing and pulling things (where use specifically doesn’t work) given that the options are there.

Score: 9.5/10

In closing:

You should buy this game.

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I’ll never get this criticism… do you play by using everything on everything? If no, why do you care? just curious.

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This wasn’t directed at me, but I’ll offer a response: I don’t start out by using everything on everything, but when I get stuck, then that’s basically what I’ll fall back on. After all, I figure that there must have been SOME kind of item combo or action that I missed that led to me being stuck, and if all other logic fails me, then the only things I can do are visit everywhere again, talk to everyone again, and use everything on everything in the hopes that I’ll stumble across the solution. And having so many red herring items will add to the tedium of doing so.

Here is my review!!!

This is an almost perfect game. It’s more than that: it is an act of love. So I feel the need to review it. I’ll list the strong points and then the only weak point IMHO.

Strong points:

  1. The vastness of the world, which is essential to create immersion. You really feel like you are in “a world”, not “in a cage”.

  2. the incredible attention to the puzzle structure, where the world “opens up” and “narrows down” at specific times. There is such balance in the game. There is an overall sense of balance in TWP that can really be felt.

  3. the humor in dialogues really works. There are many moments where you will laugh out loud.

  4. the attention to the character personalities and their past story.

  5. the integration between story and puzzles. Usually puzzles and story are at odds with each other. Puzzles tend to break the pace of the story. Freedom of choice tends to break story. Somehow, in this game it does not happen. They managed to have good story and good puzzles at the same time. In this game, neither the story nor the puzzles take precedence over each other. The puzzles feel natural in the story, but the story can stand up on its own. And all this without having too long unplayable parts.

  6. The puzzles have such great quality. First of all, the vastness of the world allows them to create puzzles that are logical and yet not too easy. Also, the cleverness of the puzzles, and the amount of study and effort they put in the puzzles, is striking. Sometimes you have an object which is only useful for some secondary, non obvious, property; or only when used at a specific time; or only because of a reaction that it will trigger in some other character. You have objects that must be used in one place but will have effect on a totally different place. There are so many techniques employed for puzzle creation. But at the same time, the puzzles are all logical and fair, though it is of course “videogame logic”. And finally the puzzle solution is often even funny. These 3 qualities together are incredibly difficult to achieve at the same time. (even the first two alone).

  7. I am thankful that the authors chose low-res graphics for the game. This saved the game from failure, IMHO. If you have high-res graphics, you’d better animate any single blade of grass, otherwise it won’t work. And you won’t be able to do it. And even if you do it, there will still be an unpleasant “uncanny valley” effect, where the difference with the real-world objects will become apparent and constitute an obstacle to immersion. Instead, low-res works. The reason why it works is that, when we see a low-resolution, “fuzzy” image, our brain automatically creates details that are not there. So that world feels real.

  8. the sprite style chosen (the Zak Mc Kracken style) is funny in itself, because the characters look so dumb that they are funny even to look at.

  9. the lighting effects and the animations (a game that feels “still” will always feel fake). Especially in the first location in the game, they spent a lot in animations. (However, I would have liked more grass and trees moving in the vista location. I guess it would have been relatively easy to do automatically, by rotating grass and trees by half degree, via code. But probably they didn’t do it because this can’t be done with pixel-perfect rendering.)

Now the only problems in the game IMHO:

When two playing characters arrive at the same location, they just ignore each other. This feels wrong. I can’t put my finger on it, but I am sure this does not work. I think a cut scene should have happened, where they at least acknowledge each other’s existence and say “hello, what’s up”. (And possibly they could have told each other what they discovered while they were on their own, if they discovered something significant in the meantime).

Another thing I am personally missing is more gestures during dialogues. Arms crossed, hands on hips, things like that. (like in Fate Of Atlantis.) But this is a minor point.

That’s it. These are the only two problems in the game IMHO.

Now let me mention some unfair criticisms that have been moved to the game:

  1. someone complained that you can’t talk to playing characters. This is IMHO a wrong solution to a real problem, as it would create other problems (becoming a hint system, and being very expensive to develop). We don’t really need that. It would have been enough to have the characters automatically talk to each other when they meet, and when they see each other executing certain key actions.

  2. someone complained about the amount of times the game breaks the “fourth wall”. But this cannot be called a problem in the game, only a style choice.

  3. someone complained that there are too many red-herring objects. This is a wrong criticism because it will only be a problem if you are cheating, i.e. trying to combine everything with everything instead of thinking.

  4. someone complained that you can’t look at characters. But why would you need to do it? are you looking for hints? But then you are cheating. If there is something peculiar to notice in a character, you need to notice it yourself. You can’t expect the playing character to notice it for you. This would spoil the puzzle.

To conclude, let me say the only thing I would have changed in the design if I were the “boss”. (This is not a critique of course). I would have designed the game so that two of the characters (two, not all of them) moved together automatically. And they would have commented on each other’s actions automatically. They would have teased each other constantly. They would have bonded during the game. Their relation would have evolved during the game.

But, as I said, this is an almost perfect game. I was almost in tears when it was over.

@RonGilbert @David


I think the game should detect that you are doing this, and format your hard drive.

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This is basically adventure gaming´s equivalent of button mashing.


You must have really loved the teamwork path of Indy 4. Anyway — very nice review there.

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Yeah, it’s something unique that I haven’t found in any other adventure game, and makes the difference.

I didn’t notice at the time but thinking about it, I do agree that it would make more sense if the characters greeted each other and whatnot when they cross paths. A little “beep you” from Ransome to Agent Ray followed by a terse ‘don’t give a crap’ type response would have been rather amusing each time they cross. Lots could have been done in that sense regarding the interactions between all 4/5 protagonists.

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I wonder if it’s too late to add it. If it weren’t for the need to record speech…

Yeah, well, what else are you gonna do? You could give up on the game, or you could resort to a walkthrough, or you could just wander around the game aimlessly. Or, true, leave it alone and maybe come back days, weeks, months or years later and see if your thinking has changed enough for you to solve whatever you were stuck on. But I’d prefer to actually finish a game.

And button mashing has gotten through games before. :wink:

But is it a good thing to finish a game? I’d prefer not to have finished TWP. :slight_smile: I’d rather be stuck at it.

Why would you want to leave a game – or book, or movie, etc. – unfinished? As good as anything might be, I’d like to have things come to an end and find out how it ends, regardless of whether that end is disappointing or not. Even more so if the story and characters get so built up during the game/book/etc. I’m more satisfied reaching an end than leaving something partially done and never knowing.

But that’s just me, I guess. :neutral_face:

well, it depends on why you play these games. for me, it’s not to know how the story ends. it’s for that sensation when you figure out the puzzle. but I can see that someone could be interested in the story, since this is a “whodunit” kind of story. (kind of)

What @schala said is valid for me. It’s a not real issue but there has been many objects that distracted me when I was badly stuck.

You do get a those exact kinds of responses when they interact, which I think is pretty much limited to using the “Give” verb, and I do appreciate that. But yes, it would have been fun to try to code up a “when in close vicinity” algorithm, maybe signalling a comment or animation, but it also sounds like one of those things that would be very hard to get working properly and prone to endless corner case bugs.

Well, what would take some work is that the game should take note of which important events are discovered by which characters. Then the logic would be: when a characters C enters a room:

if (exists(another character C2 in room)){
  moveCloseTo(C, C2);
 sayHello(C, C2);
  var t = timeTheyLastMet(C, C2);
  var events = Globals.importantEventsThatHappenedSince(t);
 foreach(var event in events){
   if (event.protagonistOfEventIs(C)){
        tell(event, C, C2);