I just finished Thimbleweed Park, the new game from the folks behind Maniac Mansion, the popular adventure video game from 1987 (and the game that probably helped keep my local video store afloat). It had been ages since I’d been genuinely excited for the release of a video game and after exploring the Thimbleweed Park’s Kickstarter, the game seemed to be checking all the right boxes for me. I started playing the moment it released, something I pretty much never do anymore.
Thimbleweed Park is a game very much in the old Lucasarts adventure style– for better or for worse depending on your tolerance for that genre of adventure game. Thimbleweed Park is funny, is richer than you’d expect, and is exactly what it sells itself to be. Just know, it’s not perfect. Some of the puzzles feel like busy work, and like any classic point and click adventure, the solutions for some puzzles are too obtuse. It took me forever to finish the game, in part because of my usual lack of free time, but also because I refused to use a walkthrough. In a weird way I wanted to play the game as I once had, banging my head bloody against a puzzle, taking a break for a few days, and then returning to the game with new clarity. I didn’t readily have access to walkthroughs as a kid and my parents sure as hell weren’t going to let me call a 1-900 hint line, so playing Thimbleweed Park this way felt more true.
There’s some fourth wall-breaking humor in Thimbleweed Park that was rather jarring and it was hard to not personally feel attacked by the shots it takes at Sierra-Online (LucasArts’ main competitor at the time). I know, I know, Sierra’s games were deeply flawed but they’re what I had access to as a kid. A bit of odd sour grapes that mars an otherwise good game. The end of Thimbleweed Park somewhat explains/makes up for some of the other fourth wall stuff.
If you have any nostalgia for Maniac Mansion or its sequel Day of the Tentacle, you really should play this game. The makers of Thimbleweed Park knew exactly who’d be playing and they lean HARD into audience-pleasing references. Over the last few years there’s been a wave of classic adventure game remakes and tributes, and very few have actually been any good. Play a good one, play Thimbleweed Park.