Thimbleweed Park: Unsatisfying-a-boo

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Ron Gilbert is finally back. After many years of obscure blackout of adventure games, it seems like there is a kind of revival, especially following the release of Broken Age and the remastered editions of older LucasArts games. Broken Age by Tim Schaffer was rather disappointing (especially the second act), so I was eagerly waiting for Ron Gilbert’s take on this almost dead genre. The first thing you notice with Thimbleweed park is that it plays on nostalgia, by reusing the typical verb-based system of older graphical adventure games (select a verb, click on an objet to formulate an action), and its presentation based on pixel art.

Before talking about the game and all, I think it’s worth focusing on these two decisions.

The verb-based system was an evolution following the text-only adventure games of old, where you had to type commands word by word to unlock the next paragraph of text. Graphical adventure games introduced visuals, and with the advent of the mouse, pointing and clicking on objects and characters became a thing. Natural evolution led to choosing the verbs that were the most frequently used, and having the gamer combine such verbs with objects on screen.

This system provided a kind of balance between the almost unlimited universe of actions possible in text adventure games, and the games that used only graphics – such as the later iteration on the genre that went much further by removing verbs all together, introducing pull-down actions directly on objects based on the context. The problem with that path is that it reduces the number of actions you can associate to an object, and also hides the choices available until you hover on the said objects. Every system has its pros and cons, but I think the 80s way of mixing verbs and a graphical interface was a good trade-off. LucasArts was especially successful in making use of “irrelevant” choices, by adding humorous remarks and animaions when the player tried something silly.

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Now on to the pixel art thing. I’m not too happy about that deliberate choice. Especially since I experienced the 8bits era myself, I can tell you that nobody made games with pixel art for the purpose of pixel art back in the days – it was simply a means to an end. As soon as better resolution became available on 16 bits, all developers were eager to produce better graphics, use more colors and include more details. Nobody tried to keep making sprites in 8 colors and at the lowest 320×200 pixels resolutions. Pixel art was just the best way to get decent graphics out of specific hardware and software limitations. On top of that, everyone used CRT displays back then and all pixel art was completely blurred by that technology, making colors fade in harmony and individual pixels largely invisible. Now CRTs are almost completely gone and we are left with high resolution LCD that have very high fidelity down to the last individual pixel. Pixel art in 2017 looks nothing like pixel art back in the 80s and the 90s, because such displays are gone.

Yet what do we see ? A resurgence of so-called pixel art, literally producing extremely low resolution graphics on screens capable of much finer, accurate details. This is nonsense. There is no doubt that you could make a sprite look better by using higher pixel precision – instead of making your 2D art look obsolete, you could have gorgeous high resolution 2D art that makes the best use of the screen and hardware capabilities of today’s machines. And that would be exactly in the spirit of the games of the 80s, 90s – Day of Tentacle looked way better than Maniac Mansion precisely because devs wanted to make use of all the tech progress that brought more colors and more resolution on screen. And gamers wanted that, too.

Now, how the devs behind Thimbleweed park justified the visual style by saying “we wanted to make it look like a game from the 80-90s”. Well if that is the intention, why not go ALL the way, and restrict your color palette to 8 colors EGA mode ? Why not render all text in low resolution as well ? (in the game graphics are low resolution but all text is rendered with smoothed fonts). Why not ensure the music uses MIDI or Adlib sounds instead of the perfect, 16 bits CD quality music and voice-overs we get to hear? Why not render the game in actual 320×200 resolution and let the window manager deal with the task of rendering it full screen ? While the overall presentation does look lowres, the movement of sprites and scrolling is not low-res at all and clearly benefits from the increased resolution to make all sprite movement look very smooth.

In other words, it sounds like a good excuse to produce low res assets and get away with it rather than a genuine effort to reproduce something that was really like the 80s. I’d contrast that with a game like Shovel Knight where developers actually tried very hard to make a game just like it looked before, with very similar constraints.

Anyway.

Let’s forget about pixels for now, and let’s talk about the meat of the game: the adventure itself.

The game stats with a murder, in 1987 – you play the role of a german traveler who was told to meet someone under the bridge of Thimbleweed Park, and soon after he gets knocked out and killed by an unknown character. Moments later, two federal agents, Ray and Reyes, come on the scene of the crime and discover the corpse of that guy. You then start by taking control of these two characters, and go on a quest to find out who killed that poor guy. At this point it looks very much like Day of the Tentacle, where you control different characters at the same time to achieve the same objective: solving the case.

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You soon you realize that Thimbleweed park is a very unusual town. The sheriff is the same person as the coroner, while they pretend not to be and try to hide between a slightly different way of speaking. The town itself is full of shops that closed down after the large PillowTron factory fire that led to shutting down the economic center of the city. Everywhere in town, machines using tubes (not transitors!) are here to automate some aspects of the local population’s life, courtesy of the industrialist Chuck Edmund who used to reign over the city.

You play the game very much like the older LucasArts games. Which means, once you see an object on screen, you should try to pick it up. There is no inventory limit. Even if a certain item is not of use at the present time, you should anyway pick it up. You never know.

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Then, you solve puzzles along the way, either by talking to characters or using the right objects at the right place. There’s even a To-Do list that your two characters carry in order to guide you a little bit to ensure you kind of know what to do next.

As you discover the town with your two FBI agents, you progressively hear about folks who have an history around here: Ransome the clown, Delores Edmund, the niece of the industrialist, Franklin Edmund, her father… and such discussions trigger flashbacks with said characters where you get to control them for a short time in the first few chapters. Such flashbacks serve as an introduction to their background and struggles, and are very good and well made. The thing I did not expect, however, is that all of these characters would suddenly become full fledged controllable characters from chapter 2 or so.

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This is where the writing is lacking. That the two FBI agents work together make sense, but beyond that it’s hard to reconcile. The other characters either do not know each other, or have different goals, and there is virtually no reason for them to collaborate and help each other. But suddenly, you can have them work on the same puzzle, pass objects and so on. This feels very, very weird and artificial. At least in Day of the Tentacle, it made sense since there was an established connection between Laverne, Bernard and Hoagie – they were friends and found themselves involved with something bigger than them. Here, for example, you “unlock” Delores just when one of the FBI agents knocks on her door. It’s just not enough to explain why they would suddenly help one another. This is especially disappointing as they did a great job to explain such characters’ backgrounds in flashbacks, but when it comes to reconnecting them to the overarching story, the link is missing, and its feels very awkward.

The writing suffers from numerous other issues. As I said before, the end goal of the game seems to be centered around the murder when you start the game. But after a while (if I remember correctly, in part 3), FBI agents suddenly leave town, and the story continues. On one hand, it’s interesting to keep the player surprised as to what is going to happen next, but on the other hand it feels that we don’t know what the main theme or point of the adventure is. It is not until much later in the game that all characters get the very same, converging objective.

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To make things even worse, while there is a hint of why characters do things, they all start with a to do list in their inventory, guiding you to what they need to complete at some point. I can understand that the feds have such a list, but for the other characters (especially Ransome and Franklin) it just does not fit well with their persona (these guys are not planners), and it seems like an excuse to make the player do things for reasons that they don’t fully comprehend – in other words, a lack of writing. For example, Franklin, as a ghost, has to “go to the penthouse” of the hotel, but it’s never made clear why he should do that, or why it matters at all. Ransome gets an objective “win tickets for thimbleCon 1987” but once again it’s not established why it matters for him. It matters for Delores (for very clear reasons) but it’s in no way transferable to all other characters. It’s a little confusing.

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It’s a shame the writing is so disconnected, because for the most part the overarching story is quite funny and the puzzles quite well thought through. For the first few parts of the game, most puzzles are quite logical and make sense once you think about it a little. Compared to 80s, 90s adventure games, even the “hard” mode of Thimbleweed Park feels like a piece of cake. That’s not to say I was not stuck at all: it did happen a few times, where the devs were clearly stretching it (at some point you need to make ink, and it’s… not straightforward, let me put it this way). Another issue is the cultural assumptions – at one point you are looking for a 5 cents coin (a nickel) and it’s nowhere to be found. Actually, you need to bring an empty glass bottle to a convenience store to get a nickel back from the shop clerk. Maybe this is something typical in the US, but I don’t think it’s relevant for many non-American folks. (note: it’s labeled inside the convenience store, true, but it does not mean everyone will see it).

Puzzles get harder in the later half of the game, but it’s also because of another flaw in writing. There are so many possibilities with 5 characters at hand, numerous locations to visit, that it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. While the game is divided in specific chapters, and while the To Do lists from each character tend to evolve in parallel, some characters are actually going to progress a lot more in a specific chapter, yet you have no way of knowing who is going to lead one chapter forward. Sometimes I was wondering on which character I should focus next. In such situations the To Do lists did not help, and actually made the problem worse.

The game features numerous buildings and locations that can be found on a large map (that looks utterly crap in pixel-art). Once a character obtains a map, that character can move freely from one location to another by clicking on it. But there’s only one map, and you need to use multiple characters to solve puzzles so most of the time you need to move them one by one, from one location to another. Since some places are far from the others, and since there is a lot of back and forth involved, it becomes really tedious when you have to move around the whole time. They should have made it easy for every character to jump from one location to another, as it serves no specific purpose not to. In the last chapter suddenly every character gets a map in their inventory. That should have been done much earlier in the game.

Oh my god this map. The aliasing! You need to open it full screen to see what I mean.

Oh my god this map. The aliasing! You need to open it full screen to see what I mean.

Despite all that, the game succeeds in building upon its characters. Delores, Franklin and especially Ransome are very memorable and fun to deal with. Even non playable characters are quite entertaining, like the Sheriff, the Pigeon Brothers, and the various shop owners in town. You can see there is definitely a lot of thinking that was put in to make characters believable and life-like, and that’s by far the strongest aspect of Thimbleweed Park, along with its voice-over work-a-reno. I am a little torn about the two FBI agents, who have a similar dynamic as Scully/Mulder in X files, and are rather weak and superficial (even in the later chapters) – there is not much opportunity to get to relate to them.

While I did complain about the “pixel art” in the first place, if you can go beyond the fact that everything looks low-res, you will find a certain charm to it. The use of colors, the shades, and the parallax scrolling effect gives a lot of depth to the 2D graphics. I did notice some weird choices though, where some locations are depicted at night, while some others at sunset (while the game takes place at the same time everywhere).

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I had an overall positive impression of the game. Sure there are times where I thought the game was overdoing things a little. Like, breaking the fourth wall for the sake of it. Or the gratuitous jokes at Sierra adventure games (famous in the 80s-90s), as if LucasFilm games were exempt of defects. Or… the continuous references to the future (2017, 30 years in the future for the characters in the game) that are not really funny. Well, at least Ransome the clown was funny, by being the jerk who insults everyone and everything and hates himself above all.

I kept going, and I reached the final part of the game. At some point, chapters started to become shorter and shorter, and things accelerated. It felt rushed. And it probably was, as many story plots were left unresolved by the time you reach the end credits (and important ones at that) – it reminded me of Lost, in a way.

The ending is abrupt, unsatisfying and unoriginal. I was like “oh no, couldn’t they come up with something better than that? Not again…”. I will avoid spoilers, but the trope used to end things has been seen over and over again in many other stories and media. It’s almost kind of cheap to do that in this context, after building up plots for 5 characters… just to end there after 12-13 hours. Did they run out of ideas, out of time?

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So… I am a little torn. I did really think they had some great situational ideas, some vibrant characters, but overall the writing is a let down in too many ways. It’s probably still better than Broken Age if the comparison makes any sense, but it’s still far from rivaling with the best adventure games of the 80s-90s.

It’s a shame, really.

But at least, it proves one thing. Judging from the interest all around, there is definitely space for more adventure games on the market. I hope we see more experiments in that area. I don’t miss puzzles that much, but anything that’s focused on telling longer, larger stories is a good thing in my book.

Oh, I did not mention anything about the Linux version. Well, it was released on day 1 (great!) and it worked perfectly. No crash, no bugs, nothing to report. And it works also on an old laptop. So. all green-a-reno.


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6 Comments

  1. Don’t think it’s a fair representation of the game, for starters there isn’t only one map, all characters can collect one from the shop after the first is found. And the pixel art is a stylistic choice, not a downside, it’s done for the feel and for the sake of it, like borderlands cell shading, and not done to be show of graphics intentionally – and it doesn’t diminish the game quality at all.

  2. I actually played the game and for some reasons I had quite a different experience to the described here. I’m sorry OP missed most of the game he played. Not liking pixel art will not help when playing a pixel art based game for sure but the problem mentioned about the writing are simply not there.
    The game starts with a quick intro hinting that a resident of thimbleweed park has been killed.
    Part 1 is the tutorial where you learn the game mechanics which include being having a piece of paper in the inventory giving you hints of what you have to do to progress in the story. So you play a stranger that comes for a meeting and ends up dead.

    Part 1 ends with a cutscene showing two sentences: “none of us were prepared for what we’d find that night” “or how much it would change us all”.

    Part 2 starts with two federal agents lying to each other and hiding their true motives for being in thimbleweed park pretending to be here to investigate the dead body eager to solve the case to get rid of the other one. Literally the intro cutscene of Part 2 is this. And if you had missed this as soon as you get into town the sheriffs greets them by being surprised they’re even here because he had not called them. Have I mentioned that there’s short cutscene right before entering town which replays the main action you just did but on a black and white sort of screen with video noise as if the feds were being watched and this cutscene happens right after you meet the pigeon brothers who are actually sisters, two adults dressed in pigeon costumes rambling to you about signals being strong that night.

    Basically 10 minutes into the game we’ve had two murders, one of a resident which is the starting point of the plot and one of a stranger followed by two federal agents bumping into each other and pretending to be here to solve the murder and are eager to solve to get rid of the other agent while being watched on a background of weird paranoid locals paranoidly talking of signals. With a narrator from the future hinting at some major life changing event happening to a group of people.

    To say that player would have figured out the point of the adventure or be surprised that the game doesn’t end at Part 3 is quite the stretch, unless maybe if you did not pay any attention to anything or are thickly oblivious. During part 2 you are made to play two different characters during flashbacks, both being pushed as suspects by locals or relatives. One is supposed to arrive in town soon as she is a relative of the guy who died during the intro and comes for the reading of the will and the other one lives in the county under a curse, county that you are prevented from entering by the sheriff until you get a map (which he sneakily removed himself, yeah the sheriff is annoyed by the investigation and tries to impedes the feds and get rid of them). How can not expect to play those character in the next part ? If you didn’t get the hint that you would play them later in the game I don’t know what could have made it more obvious than actually playing them in a flashback in the very first part of the game following the tutorial.

    Arguing that those new characters should have the same mechanics established during tutorial because it doesn’t fit persona is weird feels like OP missed the point of each character starting with this inventory item. I wanted to get Ransome in Thimblecon because I knew there was a Ransome the clown look a like context in there and it was obvious he had to participate to that (ghosts can go through doors, so you can enter the Con without tickets and you probably did to get the ghost cake that’s next to the look a like contest queue), Franklin has to go to the penthouse because when you played the franklin flashback (before he was made playable) you were told by the hotel manager that you can use the penthouse that your brother has available at all times but you were prevented to by a malfunctioning lift. The intro cutscene to franklin being playable as a ghost makes it clear there’s a ghost operating the lift to preventing people to go to the penthouse where you can find the chief of ghosts that prevents you from leaving the hotel and has knowledge you need (stuff you learn by talking to the other ghosts).

    Making ink is quite obvious as you only have limited options at this points: a log goes into a fireplace, to burn, when it leaves black sooth and you happen to be looking for a black pigment to make ink. Once again you have to pay attention in adventure games, there a sign that reads “redeem bottles here 5cts” and I happen to have read another sign that say “5cts” next to the copytron3000 I want to use, well.

    I did get stuck a couple times during my play of the game such finding a way to follow the trail of people that goes into the forest, but this is a minor stretch and was partly my fault because I had overlooked an item (had looked at it but somehow did not pick it up which prevented me from even considering the right solution, I got a case of thinking in the box). There are indeed a number of characters, locations and possibilities in the game but with a infinite inventory you can just pick everything up to avoid having to go back looking for an item you may have overlooked at first.

    I also don’t get the part with characters “leading” parts, there’s only a few actions that are limited to a specific characters such as the clown being the only one able to climb the radio tower supposedly because he had a circus career or Delores being the only to squeeze through the factory door. I would not say that counts as “leading the part”.

    I didn’t know the game was kind enough to give every characters a maps in the last chapter, it’s nice to help those who had somehow managed to miss that part 2 revolved around finding an original map because the sheriff had removed them from quickie pal, and that part 2 ends with the sheriff saying that now the feds had found a map anyway there was no point holding onto them and he was returning them to the shop. So I started part 3 by backtracking to quickie pal and getting myself extra maps, conveniently one for each character.

    I’m not sure what were the unresolved story plots mentioned in the article, I actually finished the last chapter with every character in order and all story arcs resolve nicely (though if you finish with Delores you lock yourself out of the other character stories and missed the hint again that she is supposed to end the game and as such should be done last).

    It’s true that the game uses the fourth wall around the theme of adventure game but it does because it plays a significant part of the story plot, which is made obvious at the very end, and by very end I mean the end of the end credits where the story wraps itself in a well delivered manner, but you do have to watch the end credits till the end to know that. This final wrapping makes it clear that the core target audience of the is people who enjoyed playing adventure games at the time, those who know to wait till the end of end credits to get their “I finished this game” reward in the first place.

    To me the story is well written and delivered, in a way that fooled me trying to guess the plot and where it was going until the very end. The bigger lines are easily perceptible but I had not expected the game to use stuff that I had noticed but not given any importance, stuff from the game environment and details that were in my face all along game play to be spun out to me in such a way.

    TL;DR: OP had a bad experience probably because OP did not pay attention while playing. This game requires a bit of observation, paying attention and reading to fully enjoy (also wait till the end of the end credits.)

    • First, thanks for the long answer. Let me try to reply to all your points.

      > How can not expect to play those character in the next part ?

      This is not my problem with the game. My problem is that when they become playable characters, they have no incentive to collaborate with the other playable characters in the game. Why would you suddenly trust working with Ransome the clown and 2 fed agents if you are Dolores?

      > I wanted to get Ransome in Thimblecon because I knew there was a Ransome the clown look a like context in there and it was obvious he had to participate to that

      It was obvious for Franklin but not to anyone else who could not manage to get in the convention. There were no posters or no other ads indicating that such a contest would take place, therefore Ransome has no way to know about it. That’s bad writing.

      > The intro cutscene to franklin being playable as a ghost makes it clear there’s a ghost operating the lift to preventing people to go to the penthouse where you can find the chief of ghosts that prevents you from leaving the hotel and has knowledge you need (stuff you learn by talking to the other ghosts).

      OK, I agree with you on that one. But then, why does it make sense that you can’t challenge to boss clown until very last chapter, even though you already have the knowledge that it’s the thing Franklin has to do? Again, bad writing, to my point.

      > Once again you have to pay attention in adventure games, there a sign that reads “redeem bottles here 5cts” and I happen to have read another sign that say “5cts” next to the copytron3000 I want to use, well.

      I know it was indicated in the convenience store, but it’s still a cultural aspect that one may not familiar with if you are US-based. I have never seen in any other country anyone getting a refund for bringing back a bottle in a convenience store. In that sense it does not make intuitive sense.

      > I also don’t get the part with characters “leading” parts,

      What I mean is that you have no way of knowing in which order the to-do list of each character should be completed. Sometimes I was trying very hard to progress with the feds until I realized I had to focus on a totally different character to “unlock” the next chapter. That’s my problem.

      > I’m not sure what were the unresolved story plots mentioned in the article, I actually finished the last chapter with every character in order and all story arcs resolve nicely

      Like, why was the boris guy killed in the intro of the game? By who ? Why do we see the Sheriff in cutscenes with one of the fed agents, unconscious ? Why couldn’t Ransome give is “sorry for being a dick” card to the woman he made fun of and who cursed him instead? That would have been an appropriate ending for him to have his curse lifted. And who killed Franklin and why ? That’s just the few I can remember of not being clearly explained, and there are others…

      > but you do have to watch the end credits till the end to know that

      I did. Did not change my opinion of the game.

      > probably because OP did not pay attention while playing

      I did pay attention, but that’s why I noticed the holes in the writing. I note that you did not comment on one of my main quibbles with the game, which is why Ransome, Franklin, the 2 feds and Delores work together in the first place. There is no motivation for them to do so.

      • My reply is againg leaning on the longer side of things and may contains spoilers for those who have not yet finished the game.

        > Why would you suddenly trust working with Ransome the clown and 2 fed agents if you are Dolores?

        Though I do agree there is no background story to explain why those would work together when new characters become playable, I don’t know where you got that idea in the first place. When I played the game, each set of characters had their own objectives and barely required interactions between them. It’s only as the story progressed that the story line and personal objective converged. I have not played the game as if all characters were part of a same group working together until the last chapters. I suppose different players and play style make for different experience.

        > Thimblecon tickets and Ransom the clown.
        It’s not obvious to Franklin, it’s obvious to me the player. But once again the to do list is an optional tool for players who are accustomed to adventure games or may get confused but the amount of possible actions in the game. Just don’t use it and suddenly there’s no basis for this bad writing claim anymore. And even then it would call for a claim of “not perfect writing”, something I can agree with but certainly not “bad writing”.

        > Franklin unable to challenge Xavier in the penthouse
        If you follow Franklin story from the Dolores flashback he is depicted as being unable to stand for himself, this is a recurring theme and this trait of his stays with him even as a ghost. If you went through the dialogue between Franklin and Xavier there is an option to challenge Xavier early on, but when you click on it Franklin on his own accord decide to say something else and not challenge him. Both a behavior we encounter a couple times from characters during the game and a major hint that the player has to find a way for Franklin to overcome himself and learn to stand for himself. At least that was my own experience when playing the game.

        > Returning bottle to the store / cultural thing
        I’m from western Europe and as a kid I spent some of my free time collecting used glass bottle from the street to make some change by returning them to convenience store. This may be a cultural thing but it is not a US thing. What annoys me more is that the sign is part of the graphics which are not translated in the localized version (I assume so, haven’t actually checked).

        > The leading character thing.
        Ah now I get what you are saying. I was confused because it does not seem to me that there was a leading character for certain chapters. It can happen that you may actually be running in a circle and should be playing with another character instead and the game does not tell you (except when only a specific character can do one specific action). Somehow this is something I expect and want, I would dislike if the game taking my hand and leading me to the solution. I want some challenge, i want to come up with ideas, try them and fail and again. I suppose we have different expectations here, because I experience the same and my take is that *I* got myself stuck, not that the game design was at fault.

        > Unresolved story plot
        Sorry I had misunderstodd you, to me the story plots were actually about the playable character wrapping at the end while what you were talking about includes minor characters and stuff that’s not related to the ending. Boris was killed by the same killers from the toy factory that killed Franklin (This is not directly pointed out but is explained when we learn how Reyes was killed by the toy factory). both were killed for the same reason: to prevent the plush toy contract from being made a reality which would have uncovered what’s happening in the pillow factory (This is told to you all along in the backstory of Franklin and confirmed at the end). The cutscenes as seen through a screen are something I’m not 100% I’ve cracked but it seems to me this from the point of view of the upper world (if this is explained I’ve missed it, I think this is intently made for the player to interpret, the specific cutscene you mention did a fantastic job of sending me off course as I thought Ray had been replaced by a robot like the sheriff and coroner and hotel manager were, have you noticed that right after this very cutscene Ray disappear from the playable character for a little while ?) Ransome’s dream is to go on stage once again before the reboot, how would giving the card to Madame Morena help with that ? Entering the dinner with Ransome earlier during the game and Sandy makes it clear Ransome has been a jerk to her to the point that he is not welcome here. Sandy being the character that initiated the Ransome flashback where he gets on stage it seems logical that she is the character to talk to. If you remember some other plots you have unresolved, I’d be happy to shine some light on them.

        > watching till the end.
        Well each is entitled to his own opinion and my intent was not to change your opinion but to share that my experience of the game was radically different. Maybe my appreciation of the ending is different because by the time it was delivered I thought the story was about some computer-controlled robot factory who replaced humans with robots, I thought the sheriff, the coroner and the hotel manager were three differents robots, that cake had gone out of fashion and replaced by tubes because robots eat tubes and not cakes, this also explained why the town was mostly abandoned while it is supposed to have 80 people in it, and the proof of previous and recent existence of these people is demonstrated by their name and phone number being in the phone book, the signals were somehow involved in the process of replacing humans, the seckrit meeting that I had not expected because I had missed the radio announcements and other hints (I only noticed people going into the forest and found a way to follow them), there I found those I thought were the remaining humans getting a hint that something was wrong but exploring the wrong path. So when the last piece of the story reveals itself I had not expected it which made it even more enjoyable, it fit with all the previous pieces of the puzzle and the writers managed to fool me even though I thought I had followed the story line closely. Even though this is not something new, as you said, it brings a new take on this from the viewpoint of both the game developer and the game at the same time, it goes one a step further by showing us what actually happens after the the game is deleted and the characters won the game, also it wraps nicely by blending the ending with the beginning and closing the loop. The ending got me questioning myself about about the change of viewpoint, artificial life among a couple other things. To me this is what makes good writing. That the game had an item artifically added to make the game easier for the players who are not familiar with them or that the game doesn’t explain every gameplay element with a well thought backstory is putting the focus at the wrong place IMHO.

  3. As soon as you get the first map the store gets a load more in stock so all the other characters have to do is go pick them up

  4. Hi, I agree on most of what you said, but not on the problems with the puzzles: one of the characters in the game tells you the bases how to put obtain the ink; to know you have to return the bottle to get the coin, as you say, is clearly displayed on the screen; and as soon as you get out of town with the first map, there are free maps available for every character. Thimbleweed Park has a story problems, indeed, and some in-jokes that are just confusing (the navigator’s head), but I think the puzzles are well thought and satisfying.

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