One of my goals this year is to play more games and extract some tips on good game design along the way. This is my eight and ninth review in this series called “50 games”.
One of the game highlights from last year for me was Thimbleweed Park. It features beautiful pixels by Octavi Navarro, who has since released a couple of shorter, but equally beautiful, point-and-click games: Midnight Scenes and The Librarian.
I finally got around to playing them and figured I could write down some thoughts.
First of all, pixel-art can be great, and I loved the way it was combined with modern light effects in Thimbleweed Park, and here we have some of the same tricks. Both games look great and the enlarged pixels makes it almost more expressive, if that makes sense.
Octavi also made the music and together with the sound effects it creates moody, even suspenseful scenes that makes you want to investigate more while also keeping you on the edge of your seat. The music is fairly limited and minimalistic - but I think it works really well.
In a point-and-click game, the story is really important, as that is ultimately what will grab (or fail to grab) your attention. In both these games I was instantly hooked, and felt that “need to know” urge throughout. I like that there is less pixel-hunting and superfluous random objects, instead it’s like a linked series of puzzles that also expand on the story bit by bit.
So what lessons can I take from this game from a gamedev and game design point of view?
- Minimalistic music can create excellent moods
- Story-telling is super important in point-and-click games, and you need that shocking scene in the intro to grab the player’s attention - and then try to keep it up!
- Puzzles should be something you can figure out without resorting to brute force
- Too many objects to pick up can be fun but ultimately also quite frustrating - less is definitely more
- A good idea is to make objects “used up” to avoid re-trying useless objects on everything
- Pixels are awesome