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Thimbleweed Park

Score: 87%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Terrible Toybox
Developer: Terrible Toybox
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Adventure/ Classic/Retro

Graphics & Sound:

Thimbleweed Park takes the player back to 1987, and not just because that's when the game is set. The graphics and U.I. all hark back to early SCUMM-based games from LucasArts and, besides the occasional blatant anachronistic joke, it might as well have been created during the height of LucasArts' adventure game era.

The biggest way Thimbleweed Park sells the 80's feel is in its presentation. Between the pixelated artwork, classic U.I. and music, everything screams old-school game. While characters are distinctive, there isn't any great level of detail, not even the amount of detail found in games like The Dig or even Day of the Tentacle. It's more like Maniac Mansion or The Secret of Monkey Island quality in Thimbleweed Park, and while that doesn't hit any high notes even on modern low-res retro-feeling games, it grounds the game firmly in 1987.

The game's music also feels stuck in the late 80's. When actual music is playing, it feels right at home coming from an old school boombox, while the background music is low-key and never really sounds so modern that it takes you out of the experience.


Thimbleweed Park takes place in a strange small town that once had a booming pillow factory business. Unfortunately, after a fire shut down the factory many years ago, the town has been on a decline, though none of its residents seem to think the large number of closed shops is actually an indicator of the slump Thimbleweed Park finds itself.

When a murder occurs, two federal agents show up to investigate the crime, but not together. They aren't partners and have never met before showing up to the scene at the same time. Oddly enough, they both seem to have ulterior motivations for looking into the crime. You start off by controlling both the red-headed Agent Ray and Junior Agent Reyes, a duo that looks like they could be a certain FBI pair popular in the 90's.

While you can flip between the two characters at will (provided one of them isn't incapacitated, that is), there typically isn't a lot of advantage to playing as one over the other, though some NPCs do have slightly different responses in some cases. Mostly, you will just have to keep track of which character has which inventory items and you might have to hand some off to the other character in order to complete puzzles, but it isn't long before other playable characters get thrown into the mix.

Thimbleweed Park locals Franklin, Delores and Ransome the Clown also become playable characters, at first as flashbacks as Ray and Reyes learn about these people, and then again when you get to a point in the story where they are needed. Oddly, none of these five characters are all that normal. Ray seems to be working for someone outside of the unnamed federal agency that she and Reyes belong to, while her temporary partner seems to know something about the pillow factory fire and seems to have some kind of grudge against the company's founder, Chuck, a man who has recently died whose living relatives could be coming into a large sum of money soon. Delores is one of those relatives. She was Chuck's niece and recently left Thimbleweed Park to become a game developer for famed company MucusFlem Games. Meanwhile, Franklin is Delores' dad and Chuck's brother, but he won't be seeing any of the inheritance since he just woke up dead and is quite confused about his ghostly situation. As for Ransome the Clown, he was a famous insult comedian that rode along with the circus, but when an old woman didn't like his jokes and cursed him, he found he couldn't remove his clown makeup and now lives in the abandoned circus on the outskirts of Thimbleweed Park. Learning about each character's history and how they might be tied to the dead body is what you are searching for ... well, that and actually solving the murder, but that really doesn't seem to be high on anyone's priority list.


Thimbleweed Park has two difficulty settings. Casual Mode is designed to let you speed through the story faster by providing fewer puzzles, while Hard Mode throws everything it has at you. Personally, I chose Hard Mode and I have to say that it presents many clever puzzles that did a great job of slowing me down, but I never found myself feeling cheated when the solutions to those puzzles worked themselves out.

When I did run into problems, they typically stemmed from not thinking about all the characters I could use and the best way to leverage the fact that I often had multiple characters available at the same time. When I did finally work these problems out though, the sense of satisfaction that hit me reminded me of why I've enjoyed this genre for ... well, pretty much all of my life.

Game Mechanics:

Given Thimbleweed Park's strict adherence to the look and feel of the classic LucasArts SCUMM games, it should be no surprise that anyone familiar with how to interact in those games should be able to pick up and play Thimbleweed Park without any problems. Heck, even if you didn't play them, interacting with the world is easy to pick up. There is a reason that design stuck around for so many of their titles; it is easy to understand and requires a small learning curve, even if you've never tackled the genre before.

Where other developers, like Wadget Eye, hark back to the classic adventure games by sticking to low-res graphics, most of their games still have the more streamlined interfaces that developed after games like Maniac Mansion, Day of the Tentacle and The Secret of Monkey Island, but there isn't any aspect of Thimbleweed Park's presentation and mechanics that feels like it couldn't have been one of those old adventure games that somehow was left forgotten for decades.

If you have any love for the old LucasArts adventure games, then you should jump at the chance to play Thimbleweed Park. The humor, combined with the classic look and mechanics, makes it feel like a long-lost title that was only recently rediscovered and released. If, on the other hand, you feel like the classic interface is clunky and find yourself using the modern graphics and U.I. when one of these older games gets a Special or Remastered Edition, then Thimbleweed Park might not be up your alley.

-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

Minimum System Requirements:

Windows 7 (fully, FULLY patched), 2 GHz Processor, 4 GB RAM, Intel HD 3000 graphics or better, DirectX Version 11, 1 GB available HD space

Test System:

Intel Core i7-3820 CPU @ 3.60GHz, 16 GB dual-channel DDR3,Windows 10 Home 64 bit, Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 (4GB)

Related Links:

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