As the years go by I find “looking forward” to something a bit… depressing. Because then it comes and goes and then what? I’m looking forward to something else. But I could not help but look forward to the release of Thimbelweed Park. I mean, it’s the folk behind Maniac Mansion.
That game was a huge chunk of my childhood. Even having completed it several times, I would still just boot it up and just mess around with what you could do in the game. Which makes it funny that I'm such a non-fan of open world games these days. I suppose it’s the limitations of these older games that made it enticing. It was seeing what you can do instead of what you can’t. When there are so many options as in the big open world games of today, what you can do is huge. What you can't is much smaller. Somehow this makes what you can’t do stick out much more and is more jarring.
Plus, Maniac Mansion only had so many verbs.
Anyway, Thimbleweed Park. I sure liked it. Played it twice, back to back. Completed both difficulty modes. I like how the easier mode streamlined the game and just let you get through it. The harder mode felt a bit more old-school. I had to look everywhere for things and make sure I missed nothing. That's not to say I didn't peek at some hints here and there when I was a little stuck. But I didn't feel too stuck that often.
Which is nice. Last year I played through some older adventure games and just kept a guide open that I referred to whenever a puzzle began to annoy me. Of course, there were no guides to this game upon release, so I had to work a bit harder, but I never really felt like I was missing stuff.
Except for one time. There’s a bathroom you access from outside of the convenience store, but there’s something one of the main characters said that made me think you couldn’t go in the bathroom. You could, and that was part of the solution, so I think tweaking that line of dialogue might have made things a bit better. Since there was no obvious door, just a sign, my misreading of that line led me to walking past the solution for quite some time. I figured it out, though.
Other than that the game went smoothly and I enjoyed it. It had just the atmosphere I wanted. It had humor, it was a bit Twin Peaks-y in a good way. If you think a little too hard, it doesn't make sense that the five main characters would be swapping items between themselves since they hardly have lines of dialogue together, but that gameplay mechanic trumps the flavor.
The game (spoiler!) gets a little meta at the end, but I tend to like that. There was one moment that literally made me jump - and I even knew it was coming. But it was a lovely homage.
I doubt Thimbleweed Park will bring back the adventure genre. It’s (spoiler!) clearly not designed for a sequel, but I sure hope the people behind it get a chance to make some more games. I’m itching for them.