For the first few hours of Thimbleweed Park, I was having a really good time. While a throwback to LucasArts-era adventure games in tone, design, and aesthetic, it smartly used hindsight to smooth out some of the genre's rougher edges. It's archaic in the right spots. And then, as the map opened up, allowing me to swap between multiple characters and consider a million possibilities, I hit a brick wall.
For whatever reason, the puzzle design in the game just isn't clicking for me at all. I'm enjoying the story, the characters, just about everything about Thimbleweed Park—except the puzzles. I don't know if it's bad design, a parent's lack of sleep, or an inability to realign my head to deal with 90s adventure game puzzle setups, but I was finding myself staring blankly at the screen, watching the cursor idle about.
I started out by by giving myself a few minutes to ruminate over a puzzle before looking for a hint online, but before long, I was explicitly relying on a walkthrough to guide me along. I stopped feeling bad about my choices when I'd read the next step and go "Oh, I never even considered that." When that happened for the fifth time, I gave up on trying to solve anything. Things weren't clicking.
It's a weird way to play the game? On one monitor, I have the game. On another, I'm slowly scrolling through a walkthrough from Games Radar.
Clearly, I'm not above looking for help, but Thimbleweed Park doesn't help its case by having a binary choice when it comes to choosing a difficulty. The game does have an option to throw out most of the puzzles, but that's not what I want to do! I just want the game to give me a small, vague hint. In one of my favorite puzzlers, The Room, you can ask for multiple hints before it outright tells you what to do next. I'd love if there was something similar, so the game could meet me halfway.
Alas, I'm using a walkthrough. I'm almost done, and while I'm missing out on the eureka euphoria from cracking a puzzle, I'm also avoiding a lot of frustration. Anyone thrown up their hands with a game like this before? Tell me I'm not alone.