Every so often something special stands out within the world of gaming. An industry bogged down by a need to not just make some money but to make all of the money they possibly can. This halts creativity, risk-taking & we end up with a constant stream of un-inspired, boring clones.
An industry seemingly obsessed with micro-transactions, cutting a game up & selling it piece by piece while having total disregard to their customer base.
The big companies (EA/Activision/Ubisoft etc.) have burned their fans so many times now that many gamers are turning to the indie market for their fix of quality, cheap & often inspiring gaming. This is where Thomas Was Alone came to life…
Before I get into the nitty-gritty of the review I just want to say that I think this is one of the best games I have ever played & it makes me proud to be a gamer. Thomas Was Alone is special, buy it.
So, the game is a mix of platforming & puzzle solving. Throughout the game you control simple polygon shapes each with a name & personality. These shapes are out of control AI who have become self-aware. Thomas, a small red rectangle is intent on finding out his purpose & along the way he will meet many other companions who can assist him traversing the world, a computer system.
Later in the game Thomas will learn about the ’fountain of wisdom’ which is basically the link to the Internet & after connecting to it for 12 seconds learns about the world outside. He makes the decision to become an architect & modify the world they are in so they can empower other AI’s to be able to do the same.
Gameplay is simple…each shape has their own unique ability & using these players must guide the AI to exits to complete levels. The different abilities of the shapes can overcome all obstacles & while there aren’t any fiendishly difficult levels, some will force you to really think about the solution.
There are 10 levels with 10 chapters in each…each level introduces a new character with a new ability such as the double jumping Sarah or the bouncy Laura. Each character enriches the game as they are introduced, their stories & personalities explained & expressed by a narrator.
None of the shapes speak so the story & everything that happens is explained by a narrator voiced by Danny Wallace who does an incredible job. His performance in Thomas Was Alone saw him win a BAFTA game award.
His delivery is heart-felt yet amusing, giving detailed personalities to these shapes & making you care for them in ways you never would have thought possible.
Visually the game looks simple, with some nice uses of lighting to create interesting shadows. Some levels standout more than others with some great uses of rain & colours but this is not a game where the look of it matters at all.
Thomas Was Alone is an emotional game, one about friendship & loss. About the greater good & freedom to be anything you want to be. It is a compelling play helped by its stunning soundtrack, one of the best I’ve heard in years (probably since Dust: An Elysian Tale). From the opening titles to the end credits I was mesmerised by what I was hearing & it added some much depth to an already fulfilling game.
If I can find any faults with the game it’s that it is a little bit short & bit too easy at times.
A masterpiece of gaming & something that we as gamers should feel proud of. It puts most triple A titles to shame with its interesting characters & motivations.
Thomas Was Alone