There are a lot of games with likable, believable characters. Normally these games have tons of detail and dialogue with a lot going on in the plot along with having multiple side plots. Well, Thomas Was Alone attempts to create some of the most likable characters in gaming with only a narrator, some shapes, and puzzles. Does it succeed? Read more to find out!
The story of Thomas Was Alone is about the first group of self-aware AI trying break free of the computer and into what they think is the real world, but is really the internet. The story is all told through quotes from the real world about the AI at the start of each section of levels, and the inner monologue of each AI performed by Danny Wallace. Each AI is given a different personality, color, size, shape, and ability. Through clever writing you grow attached to each one of them as they go on their grand adventure to try and escape .The narration itself is calming and often very funny with the AI commenting on each other, their situation, or even the “real world”.
The art style is very minimalist, meaning that it is nothing but colored quadrilaterals, black platforms, black lines, and water. That doesn’t stop the game from having a very cool clean look that is pleasing to the eye. The soundtrack is also very simplistic, with a very heavy focus on the piano. Though it may be simple, the soundtrack fits the tone of whatever is going on during the game or in the narrative. The story and presentation as a whole is simple and shouldn’t come together as well as it did. The presentation in Thomas Was Alone is truly more than the sum of its parts.
Onto gameplay, Thomas Was Alone is a puzzle platformer where you use multiple different characters, all shaped as quadrilaterals with different abilities, to get past obstacles and portal to the next level. So for instance, one character can jump really high and far so he goes to the top of the level to flip a switch that lets everyone else climb to the top. Once at the top there is water but no one can swim except for the big blue rectangle character; she can float. So everyone must use that character to get past the water to the other side. This is just the basics. By the end of the game you will be using several different characters with different powers to get past multiple parts of the same puzzle. Just like portal at first, it is really simple and grows to the point of solving huge multi-tier puzzles without even realizing it. The only problem I had during my playthrough was in some levels, you can set it up so you are permanently stuck and have to reset the whole level. This is a minor complaint because most levels are pretty short so getting back to the point you were at is not too difficult. That brings me to my other complaint; Thomas Was Alone is pretty short. It lasts only four hours with no real reason to go back and play it again. There is the making of commentary from the developers that you can turn on during a second playthrough which is cool, but for most players it isn’t a big enough incentive to go through the game again. Though considering how much fun the game is, ten dollars seems like a fair price at least.
Thomas Was Alone is a fun puzzle platformer with one of the better stories in an indie game. It also shows that you don’t need a massive budget, huge script, great graphics, or set piece moments to make a fantastic game with great characters. All you need is good gameplay and superb writing. Thomas Was Alone is well worth your ten dollars.
Final Score: 8.5/10