I usually try not to look at the critical responses for games I think I might end up reviewing because I donâ€™t want to influence my own response. Itâ€™s a tactic thatâ€™s worked for me in the past, but Thimbleweed Park is a different story (I didnâ€™t know a mobile version was coming, so I didnâ€™t preemptively screen myself). So yeah, I did sort of go in expecting a glorious homage to classic point-and-click adventure games. I was disappointed within the first couple of minutes. Then I wasnâ€™t disappointed anymore.
Thimbleweed Park tosses you right into the middle of the lead-in to a murder mystery. Some stuff happens and BOOM, youâ€™re introduced to Agent Ray and Agent Reyes (the gameâ€™s main protagonists) standing over a dead body. Itâ€™s honestly not a bad way to kick things off narratively, but I just couldnâ€™t get into it. The first bits feel rather constricted and a bit too directed, with little opportunity to go pixel hunting for anything that isnâ€™t nailed downÂ (because just about anything could be necessary when it comes to solving puzzles in an adventure game).
Thankfully, once that initial lead-players-by-the-nose section is over and done with I began to see the semi-nostalgic magic I was hoping to find. Itâ€™s everything I loved about classic adventure games with the slightest bit of modernity thrown in. Many of the puzzles make a sort of sense when considered in the context of the gameâ€™s world, plus thereâ€™s an in-game hint line you can â€ścallâ€ť to get some guidance if you really need it.
Itâ€™s also a surprisingly beautiful game when it wants to be. The characters themselves look okay, albeit a little simplistic, but the backgrounds are pretty much all gorgeous. There are a lot of little details in those pixelated backdrops, and the implied lighting in almost every scene is honestly kind of amazing when you think about the fact that itâ€™s all pixel art. The only real downside to this is that the super-pretty backgrounds make the far simpler character sprites stand out quite a bit by contrast.
Speaking of contrast, hooboy that voice acting. Some of it is fine. Good, even. But there are a few characters that do not sound good at all. I donâ€™t know if it was the direction or the actors themselves, but wow do they stand out in a bad way. It doesnâ€™t help that two of the weakest character voices are heard within the first five to ten minutes. That doesnâ€™t instill confidence in the early moments. But most of the rest of the characters sound just fine, thankfully.
I canâ€™t say the same for all the fourth wall jokes, though. Yeah itâ€™s a throwback to old school adventure games from companies like Lucasarts, but these jokes happen way too often and most of them are pretty bad — in the actually bad way, not the bad meaning good way. They arenâ€™t all stinkers, but like the voice acting, the rough ones stand out a lot.
Grumpy though I may seem about it, I actually kind of love Thimbleweed Park. Itâ€™s got a couple of weak spots, sure, but Iâ€™ve got no problem parroting all of the other reviews that have called it a love letter to classic point-and-click adventure games. They were right. So if you like that kind of stuff and you havenâ€™t tried Thimbleweed Park yet for whatever reason, now is as good a time as any to see what the fuss is about.