PAX West 2017: First Impression – Thimbleweed Park (Nintendo Switch)

It’s actually a bit of a misnomer to call this a first impression, since Thimbleweed Park has been available on Steam and PS4 for some time now, but it won’t come to the Switch until later this month.

That said, for point-and-click fans… this game is probably a dream come true. Ron Gilbert knows what he’s doing, which is probably why it took so long for the game to come to fruition—it was back in 2014 that we first heard tell of Thimbleweed Park, and it’s clear that a lot of thought and effort has gone into this title.

Despite the seeming simplicity of point-and-click games, the heavy storytelling means that each and every detail matters. Developed by Terrible Toybox, this particular title is a supernatural murder mystery set in a small town, paying strong and very unsubtle homage to franchises like The X-Files, True Detective, and Twin Peaks. (Though Gilbert has gone on record to call it a ‘spiritual successor’ to his Monkey Island and Maniac Mansion games.)

The demo at PAX West drops players into the game as they investigate a murder scene. You control two federal agents who look suspiciously familiar—if there is anything notable about this game, it is that it’s not subtle in any way—but later on, the controls shift to a truly awful clown character. That said, the controls are the same across the board, using commands like push, pull, and so forth—you have a list to choose from depending on context—so while it was mostly intuitive, there were of course moments when it seemed like you should be doing one thing but the commands weren’t available to allow it.

At times, the controls felt a bit clunky and restrictive, but the impression was quickly given that the actual gameplay came second to story and the established premise. The game looks great, sounds great, and offers up intrigue like a pulp detective novel, but the actual play experience doesn’t hold up as well as expected.

That said, if you’re a fan of point-and-click games, you’re probably coming to it for the story and humor in the first place, and in that case, your expectations will likely be met. We’ll know more once the game is released on the Switch, but Gilbert has a solid track record with these types of titles—and if you like his work, we’re thinking you’ll like Thimbleweed Park, too.

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Dave
Author: Dave View all posts by
Dave will tell you that he likes to play video games, this is in fact a lie. What he really likes to do is buy games, and leaving them sitting unopened on his shelf. He is a monster.

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