If there was a "Hall Of Fame" for the most influential personalities of the gaming world, I am sure that Ron Gilbert would be part of it with full merits. It could not be otherwise for the man who revolutionized the world of graphic adventures, with the creation of the SCUMM engine and who collaborated on classics such as Maniac Mansion and Zak McKracken, and then left an even more indelible mark with the first two. , legendary chapters of Monkey Island. Gilbert's merit is also that of never having rested on his laurels and of having always dared with different genres, we remember for example Total Annihilation, Deathspank and The Cave.
We arrive at 2014 and, between a chat and the other about the good old days, Gary Winnick (collaborator of Gilbert for Maniac Mansion) manages to convince the latter to take up the graphic adventures again and from there a Kickstarter starts to finance the development by Thimbleweed Park. We are in August 2017 and, after collecting enthusiastic opinions on Steam, the latest creature of the duo is ready to entertain the PlayStation 4 users.
As the title suggests, we are in Thimbleweed Park, a tiny town known for the production of Pillowtronics pillows and where the most influential person seems to be Chuck Edward, head of Pillowtronics and great technology enthusiast, whose disappearance has shocked the citizens of the small town. The quiet of Thimbleweed Park is shaken by the discovery of a corpse of which initially no one knows anything; It will be up to the dynamic duo of agents Ray and Reyes to understand the dynamics of the accident and discover the culprit. Ray and Reyes will not be the only protagonists of the plot, during the game we will meet three other characters: the clown Ransome, comedian with an easy swear word, but hated by the community, Delores, nephew of Chuck Edward whose dream is to become a video game programmer and her father Franklin. Each of these characters has their own personal narrative background and, as we progress with the plot, we will discover that their paths will cross with those of Ray and Reyes ... There will certainly be surprises as you can imagine!
The care reserved for the narrative sector is commendable, as engaging as any investigative should be and capable of mediating more serious tones with lighter moments imbued with that humor that made the graphic adventures of dear old LucasArts legendary.
While not making use of SCUMM, Gilbert has developed an engine whose bases are based on an all-Italian scripting language (for those who do not know what he is talking about, in short, a scripting language is a programming language that allows interaction with a more complex system) and which, in a completely similar way to direct inspiration, makes use of verbs and a convenient grid of objects to interact with people and settings. Being a graphic adventure, our task will be to continue from puzzle to puzzle and the freedom of interaction is literally total, it will be very important to examine the scenarios in detail and test all the possible dialogue options, in general it is good to pay attention in every moment as the clues needed to continue are often more in sight than one might think. But Thimbleweed Park is not just a mere succession of puzzles, Ron Gilbert has created a credible and intriguing game world to visit even out of pure curiosity: you have no idea of the surprise in seeing how the telephone directory was a real telephone directory. with all (but absolutely all) the inhabitants of the town, entering a bookstore and recognizing that even the smallest and most insignificant book has its own title (and what a title ...), completing apparently meaningless lines of dialogue and then notice the effects only later, probably for many gamers all this matters little or the right but for myself this meticulousness denotes a unique love for the product and for the end user. The last creature of Gilbert and Winnick must be lived calmly, you have to take your time to enjoy this wonderful microcosm to the fullest, it would be a huge mistake to think only of completing the puzzles, losing an outline to best characterize NPC and the historical background. of the town.
Although this is an old-fashioned graphic adventure, the attention paid to introducing this genre to the youngest and / or less experienced is remarkable, before starting the game we will be able to choose whether to play in Random mode (puzzles in a reduced number and less laborious) o Hard (all the puzzles available with all the steps to perform) so that we can enjoy an experience tailored to our abilities. The only critical point common to the two modes is the ability to switch from one character to another using the backbones, it will not always be clear when it is time to switch to the command of another protagonist and this could cause frustration in the long run; Fortunately for us, the game has been designed in such a way as to have no points of no return or permanent deaths so, by putting in the right effort, it is always possible to get out of a thorny situation and continue.
Technically speaking, the pixelart used is a clear reference to the productions of the past, Maniac Mansion in the first place, while not offering who knows what level of detail the reproduction of the settings and characters manages to be convincing and equally convincing is the English dubbing with Italian subtitles of everything. respect (edited by our Fabio Bortolotti) both for the dialogues and for the writings on flyers, shop windows, billboards and so on.
Longevity is highly dependent on both the chosen mode and the skill in the genre, in Random mode in 5-6 hours it can be easily completed while in Hard mode it goes for 10 hours.
Ron Gilbert has given dreams to many videogame enthusiasts over the years and Thimbleweed Park is just one of the many jewels born from his brilliant mind, a splendid old-fashioned graphic adventure curated, engaging and suitable for everyone; buying this little masterpiece means finding yourself in your hands a piece of history, a video game of great depth that can be serious, irreverent, sometimes even frustrating to be honest but especially it can be intelligent and educational.