Well, of course I played Thimbleweed Park. It’s probably the most anticipated adventure game to come out since Double Fine’s Broken Age. It made a lot of promises, none of which seemed unreasonable, while managing to keep the actual story and mystery a secret right up until its launch.
With a name like Ron Gilbert at the helm — even most gamers who don’t give a shit about adventure games know what Monkey Island is — expectations were, unsurprisingly, high. Here are my thoughts on whether these expectations were warranted, and if the game lives up to them.
Whether or not I liked the game, though, is only a small part of this review. There is a deeper discussion about the game’s design (particularly the multi-protagonist design) and the story itself that I think warrants some exploration.
Therefore, a stern warning: The following review contains spoilers. It is a review written for people who have already played the game. If you have not played Thimbleweed Park and just want to know whether you should or should not, then my answer is: Yes. If you like classic adventure games, and I do mean classic, then absolutely. Go play it.
There is a lot to love in Kathy Rain. The story has all the makings of an adventure game classic: You’ve got a family mystery, sprinklings of the supernatural, a plucky protagonist who don’t take no shit, and a cast of characters with depth and unique personalities.
You’ve also got an absolutely gorgeous presentation — everything from the amazing pixel-art graphics and the moody, evocative music to the superbly streamlined interface.
So what’s not to like?
This is a game that wears its influences loud and proud, like DIY patches on the back of a well-worn denim jacket. Particularly evident is its infatuation with the first Gabriel Knight game, Sins of the Fathers.
This is not necessarily a bad thing. Sins of the Fathers was a great game. It had all the things that Kathy Rain aspires to, and, for the most part, Kathy Rain does an admirable job of tapping into the things that made Sins of the Fathers so memorable.
It does, however, play up this inspiration to an almost pathological degree.
Let's see. We've got family secrets, grandma, tape recorder, and we ride a motorcycle. What does this remind me of? pic.twitter.com/qPEvqWkzKV
Sometimes a game comes along that just speaks to you. A game that taps into that core essence of your being; that seems to know exactly what you are (or were, at one point) thinking.
I’m not saying MechaNika is that game, exactly. But it’s definitely close.
Introducing: Nika Allen, a 7 year old girl who is intelligent, a reader, good with mechanical things, and despises everything that isn’t awesome. That includes school, her family, and almost everyone around her.
Her goal is to build a giant robot that can lay waste to everything she disagrees with — which, I reiterate, is almost everything in the world.
What would you do if you were trapped as the last survivor of a nuclear fallout inside a surprisingly spacious bunker with a head full of neuroses and anxiety?
Well, shit, let’s find out. You play as John, a man born and raised inside the confines of this nuclear bunker, in an alternate reality where a nuclear strike happened sometime in the 1990’s and decimated the world’s population.
John spends his days checking for radiation levels, reading books to his dead mother (!), eating canned foods on the can (I couldn’t make this up), and fretting like a badger caught in a bear trap about the prospect of venturing out of his comfort zone. Because something in his past is haunting him; something he is not ready to remember.