Thomas Was Alone Review
Thomas Was Alone is an Indie puzzle-platformer developed by British game developer, Mike Bithell, available for PC, Mac, PS3, PS Vita and as of it’s participation the ‘Humble Bundle’, Linux. The protagonist of which takes the shape of a simple square, Thomas, amongst other charming shapes that manage to uphold more personality in their faceless, mute, four-sided selves than certain AAA games have failed so miserably at doing, seemingly mistakingly believing that high polygon counts and detailed shaders are a substitute for a well written story and any form of significant character development.
The simple objective of the game is to navigate the correct shape into the corresponding white outlines, an objective that begins simple enough and gets progressively more difficult as more ‘characters’ are added, as to be expected. The difficulty curve of this game is nicely balanced and provides a challenging experience in levels whilst not being so frustrating that the game is shut down, never to be relaunched. Each character has a slightly different attribute to benefit your progression through the levels which creates interesting gameplay and puzzles that remain entertaining throughout. The characters all have the ability to jump at various different heights due to their various different sizes, whilst another character is given the special ability to be the only one able to navigate through water, occasionally making it necessary to use her to navigate other across large bodies of water. Bithell does well to prevent the gameplay from becoming tedious or too repetitive. These simple ideas of varying character abilities work exceptionally well in this platformer, more so than any most other class-based game I have played, including a particular favourite of mine, Trine.
The gameplay is complimented well by the simplistic but charming art style, utilising simple black areas as platforms alongside coloured backgrounds and lighting that produces smooth, simple shadows within the levels. Along with this, the music and story truly add to what very quickly became one of my favourite Indie games, credits go to David Housden for his brilliant soundtrack for this game. The story is narrated by British actor Danny Wallace, describing the thoughts and personality traits of the mute characters as you progress through the levels, unveiling a story and characters that you actually enjoy hearing about. I have rarely found myself waiting at the end of level for the narration or characters to finish talking in any game but Thomas Was Alone certainly achieved this time and time again.
It’s rare that I find myself enjoying platform games, but this title certainly holds it’s own against some of my recent favourites in Trine and Battleblock Theater, potentially even surpassing them. In short, Thomas Was Alone is certainly one of my favourite Indie titles, and I genuinely struggle to find fault in this game, particularly as it was a primarily one man project. After grabbing this as part of a ‘Humble Bundle’, I would certainly recommend this game, even at it’s full price of £5.99 (Steam). I myself have nothing but plaudits for Bithell and look forward to his next development.