Look at sanity
My very first interaction in Thimbleweed Park [official site], and most likely anyone else’s, was to “Look at Willie.” I don’t know who I’m playing yet, nor who Willie might be, but my German accented chap has appeared on a screen with two interactive items: a gate, and a slumped drunken man called Willie. So I looked at him, he being potentially more interesting than a gate, presuming that my character would inform me that either he knew this man and needed to speak to him, or that he did not. I got neither. Because “Look at Willie” speaks to him. Read the rest of this entry »
Secrets and curses. No monkeys.
In Thimbleweed Park [official site], few things are what they appear to be. The game, which reunites Ron Gilbert with his Maniac Mansion co-designer Gary Winnick, is a point and click comedy-mystery that looks like a relic from the past. Or, more accurately, like memories of the past; it has handsome lighting and a level of visual detail that actually fills in the blanks that memory often papers over.
Attractive as it is, should such pixels please your eye, it’s the quality of the story and the puzzles that really count. On one of those fronts, Thimbleweed eventually finds a way to go above and beyond anything I expected from it, but the combination of broad jokes and mystery-thriller sometimes creates confusion and frustration in both the narrative and the puzzling along the road.
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Casual modes should be more casual
This week I’ve been tinkering with a preview build of Thimbleweed Park which is the point and click murder mystery from Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick (them off Maniac Mansion). I used to love playing point and click games when I was little – my siblings and I would play them together over weeks and weeks – but for me they feel so rooted in that time’s technology and gamescape that I don’t think I’ve found any of the modern revamps/revisits/reworks/riffs of interest. Thimbleweed Park’s recent trailers did trigger a little frisson of curiosity though, and I’ve also been tasked with booting up The Dig by John for a new Game Swap. The result of all of this was an unexpected 2am conclusion about what point and clicks can learn from hidden object adventures. Read the rest of this entry »