A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Thimbleweed Park is a downloadable adventure game. It's clearly an homage to old-school point-and-click adventure games created by two people who helped popularize the genre back in the 1980s. Although the game centers on a murder investigation, there's only minimal violence that's cartoonishly shown in the game. There are some mature comments within the game, such as some profanity and a focus on lewd dialogue related to sex. There's also a regular amount of drug and alcohol references, as well as a mission to track down psychedelic mushrooms.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's it about?
THIMBLEWEED PARK centers on a murder investigation being conducted by two FBI agents in a town where seemingly everyone is a suspect. Intended as a spoof of Twin Peaks, The X-Files, and True Detective, the game adheres thoroughly to the structure of a police investigation. Most of your time is spent trying to piece together what happened and why and then making an arrest. As this spoof comes from the co-creators of Maniac Mansion, a classic point-and-click adventure game, the investigation also necessitates a fair amount of roundabout, abstract, or obtuse puzzles -- also part of the charm and appeal.
Is it any good?
In many ways, this point-and-click adventure both does and doesn't feel like a fresh experience. The game is most enjoyable when it doesn't make winking reference to games that came out in the 1980s and frees itself from the proverbial fourth wall. But the deeper you get in, the more the DNA of its creators shines through: small moments that don't deserve or even merit funny writing (like looking at a toilet lid) unexpectedly provoke a chuckle, and puzzles that seemed aggravating before suddenly prove deceptively simple. That has always been the appeal of this genre, and thankfully that spirit perseveres here.
That said, the only other deterrent to being fully onboard here is the markedly fluctuating voice acting. The game lets you play as five characters (thankfully, each of them carries a to-do list so you don't have to struggle to remember what you should be doing), and at least one of them is so cringingly bad you may want to give all their items to another character to carry out their tasks so you don't have to hear their voice. Other than that, the game is paced very well and is enjoyable in small bursts. You won't run across any puzzles that will stop you completely dead in your tracks for a few weeks at a time, but you will definitely feel challenged more than a few times as you make your way to the end. It's worth hanging with, if only because it's obvious that the people who helped popularize this genre still have more to say, more to do, and more they can dazzle us with.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why nostalgia is so popular in every medium today. Is this a new phenomenon? Or have people always had a fondness for the past and a desire to consume and buy products that allow them to recapture feelings they had long ago? Why do you think that is? Can you think of any exceptions?
Would you want to investigate a real crime? Why, or why not? What aspects of investigating do you think you would be good at, even if you wouldn't want it to be your career?
- Platforms: Linux, Mac, Windows, Xbox One
- Price: $19.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Terrible Toybox
- Release date: March 30, 2017
- Genre: Adventure
- Topics: Adventures, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- ESRB rating: T for Fantasy Violence, Language, Use of Alcohol and Tobacco, Crude Humor, Drug Reference, Sexual Themes
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.