Thimbleweed Park, a point-and-click adventure by famed ex-LucasArts duo Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick, rides a thin line between nostalgia and reinvention, balancing its remembrances for the time-honored genre with a sliver of modern sensibilities. It’s a picturesque window into the past that’s more than it appears to be. But at the same time, its adherence to the genre’s long-held tenets is a firm reminder why adventure games alienated even their most diehard fans in the late ’90s. Despite this, Thimbleweed Park is a journey well worth taking for experienced adventure game fans eager to solve its myriad puzzles and uncover its secrets.
The story begins with a murder in the small town of Thimbleweed Park, and two FBI detectives, Antonio Reyes and Angela Ray, are tasked with investigating the killing. The trail to the culprit leads them down a path of intrigue that has them unearthing dark secrets concerning the town’s history and inhabitants.
Thimbleweed Park’s premise screams Twin Peaks, though its quirky tone and hammy dialogue drive it more towards supernatural comedy than surreal, psychological thriller. It constantly breaks the fourth wall by reminding players of its pixelated art style and its idiosyncrasies as a point-and-click adventure–there’s even a character whose primary motivation is to get a job making text adventures for a company analogous to LucasArts. These stylistic and charming touches enrich the narrative, giving the storytelling an air of lighthearted self-awareness that rides through up until its cataclysmic conclusion.
Further complementing the narrative is an eccentric cast of characters who, at each twist and turn, contribute a wealth of witty remarks and general ridiculousness to the proceedings. For instance, the town’s sheriff attaches the phrase “a-reno” at the end of a random word in his sentences. The town’s coroner shares this habit but affixes “a-hoo” to the ends of phrases instead. It’s made obvious in the beginning that these two characters are in fact the same person, yet everyone in town seems to believe they’re separate individuals purely based on the fact that they each use different end phrases.