Developer: Terrible Toy Box
Publisher: Terrible Toy Box
Release Date: 21st September
Price as of Article: $19.99 USD, £14.99 GBP
It’s 1987 and there’s a mysterious murder in the town of Thimbleweed Park. You play as Ray and Reyes – two FBI agents who have been assigned to the case and are soon thrust into a larger plot where you need to find out what is going on in this strange town. You feel like you have stepped into another world, one from days gone by and the clues are all around – this could be twin peaks or an episode of The X-Files.
The plot is told through your characters interactions in this point and click adventure, through the story there is plenty of humour and more than a few nods to the games that inspired this game like Maniac Mansion and the Secret of Monkey Island and like those games the 4th wall is broken on occasion, inviting you – the player to enjoy inside jokes.
it’s no surprise then to find out that this games was created by Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick, two legends from the LucasArts team that brought us the above games and inspired point and click adventures for years to come, games like Broken Sword, Discworld and many other classics that I look back on with a smile, games that kept me playing and frustrated me for many hours.
As the story progresses you play as five different characters in tota, Agent Reyes, Agent Ray, Ransom the Clown, Delores the budding Game Developer and her father Franklin.
Each character has their own story to unfold with the overarching story, it doesn’t take it self too seriously but thats not to say its all a laugh – there is a sinister side to this story as well and I found myself needing to get further in order to find out more – just like those games which inspired this, there are a lot of strands to the story with many flash backs and some plot points that felt squashed in to the overall story to fit things they wanted to include.
the sound in the game is right in keeping, the environmental audio fits in perfectly with its effects and background music is subtle. The voiceover acting is done very well – its cheesy as it should be for this kind of story and each character has lines, one thing I did notice if I am nitpicking was a slight graininess to the voice overs which I assume came from issues when recording, its not enough to cause offence but it is there for you to notice if you are engrossed in the game.
Visually this game is no looker, its slightly frayed 8-bit style is dated but of course thats part of the point. The town is the star here with each area being laid out creatively and making a good setting for the many puzzles. The perspective as you move from the front to the back of a scene is kept which is great, this is something that was a real pain with some of the older point and clicks and shows that the game was made with more powerful, modern software.
Thimbleweed Park stays completely true to its spiritual predecessor The Secret of Monkey Island using the exact same 9 verbs from that game. Your interaction comes in the form of choosing one of these verbs and then selecting an item from your bag, an area on the screen or some combination of both – see a gate and you can choose to use, open or close it for example.
When docked you have a slightly odd set of controls where you use the analog stick to move around the map, the A button to select items and then the D-Pad to select one of the Verbs – you can use R once you have chosen a Verb to snap to the nearest selectable area with the chosen Verb most of the time. As you progress you can use ZR and ZL to toggle between different characters and often you will need to use two characters to solve devilish puzzles.
Its a good use of the more modern controls, the console era point and click games often suffered with how best to have suitable controls. This way works fairly well but it can be quite bothersome at times, taking a large amount of time to make 3 or 4 selections which are wrong before getting it right.
Where the controls really make sense is on the move, the game makes excellent use of the touch screen, taking advantage of the fact that this game has been released to iOS previously.
The game feels easier to play this way and I found it to be my favourite way to enjoy this game.
Whilst you are on a mission the game is at its element when you are exploring, talking to the quirky residents or just overhearing their conversations. There are many puzzles here and whilst they can be head-scratching they are at least all logical, the game gives you some respite here with a way to use a phone to get tips when needed. You are also presented with two game modes at the beginning – casual and hard, casual skips parts of the game and plays more like a chilled out story that you are participating in lightly whilst hard gives you the full point and click experience you will be used to if you are familiar with the genre.
The game offers a large story which will take about 15 hours to complete, its fully voice acted and will give you a bunch of laughs and some frustration along the way. This version of the game is arguably the best choice as you have the flexibility and appeal of touchscreen controls with the additional console benefits of being able to kick-back and play on a larger screen.
At $19.99, £14.99 the game is fairly priced.