My earliest video game memory is watching my dad play this weird and creepy game on the original NES called Maniac Mansion. As Lucasfilm’s first game, it told the story of a high school student named Dave trying to rescue his kidnapped girlfriend, Sandy, with the help of his friends. The game is beatable in multiple ways, depending on the cast of characters you pick to help Dave.
Inside the mansion, the Edison family have been corrupted by a meteor, making the entire family like some comical output of an 80’s horror B-movie. Fans of the game, like myself, have solid, terrifying memories of walking into the kitchen too early – discovering Edna at the fridge and running for your life. And we remember the frantic energy of switching to the character we left outside once the doorbell rang to steal the package before Ed reached the door.
Fast forward 30 years, and lead Maniac Mansion designers Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick have poured themselves into Thimbleweed Park, a new point and click adventure in the same vein. The game launched in March 2017 after a successful Kickstarter campaign.
The story follows several characters and the events surrounding a dead body that turned up just outside of town. Agents Ray and Reyes attempt to solve the murder with their own hidden agendas in mind. You will also meet characters like Ransome the insult clown, whose career went belly-up on a fateful day, and Delores, a video game developer who returned to her hometown of Thimbleweed Park to tie up loose ends.
If Maniac Mansion tickles your nostalgia bone, you need to pick up Thimbleweed Park. It maintains the same weird, creepy, and hilarious charm that remained true for Maniac Mansion. The characters are memorable, the writing is funny, and the settings are as diverse as the rooms of the Mansion. It gets very meta at times, making fun of its own genre.
It took me roughly 13 hours to beat the game on Hard mode. If you don’t have the time to play the long game or find the puzzles way too challenging, there is a Casual mode.
I felt some of the puzzles were crazy difficult, often being a solution so simple I overlooked trying it. The plot itself was a great mystery, and it held that air of suspense through most of the game. I, personally, was not a fan of the ending. I liked the direction the ending went, but not the final execution. Regardless, the game is worth a play for anyone who enjoys a good point and click adventure.