Thomas Was Alone is a game about a red rectangle named Thomas who is quite simply alone, wandering through a world that is unknown to him as he meets other quadrilaterals on the way, it was originally released as a flash game in 2010 but has been revamped and extended for commercial release.
Thomas Was Alone is a puzzle platformer that requires you to work out how to get Thomas and his friends from the start of the level to the portal at the end. There are 100 levels split into ten stages and with each new stage you meet a new character, all with an equally charming personality and back story, which is being told to you by Danny Wallace, who really brings this game to life.
As well as each new character having a unique name and personality, they all have a different ability which is now required to complete that stage. This game really grasps onto teamwork at its core and promotes working together as a necessity. You control any number of characters on any one level and switch between them by using the left and right bumper. And this is where the puzzle element comes in; you have to work out which character you need to do a certain task. For example: there’s a button that needs pressing but it’s high up you may need to make a staircase out of your shapes or you may need to use a flat bouncy shape and a high jumper. It’s up to you to decide which is easiest.
There is no time limit for the levels and you can die as many times as you like. Death is mainly caused by water, however you do get a shape that can float on water and can carry their friends across, and you either go back to the start of the level or to the check point when you die. There is a leaderboard of fastest times, although to me this had no significance because Thomas Was Alone is not a game that really needs to be competitive. It is more a game you would sit and play to relax rather than whizz through levels to try and beat your friends’ scores. The music in the game is very soothing in its plinky plonky background noise kind of way.
The narration in this game is what makes this game come alive, if it wasn’t there then I don’t think Thomas Was Alone would had have so much appeal, Danny Wallace, the narrator of this game was awarded a BAFTA games award for performance for his part in Thomas Was Alone and deservedly so. It would be a game just about moving random shapes around a level but as you listen to the narration you become attached to the shapes as they are brought to life because they are all given names and have different personality traits, this comes across with little stories being told about them throughout the levels. There is even a little love story going along with the main plot. Chris the orange square and Laura the pink bouncy flat rectangle appear to be smitten by each other and Chris gets jealous when the other shapes meet her.
Thomas Was Alone is a very fun and charming title that makes you want to go back for more enchanted stories about the little shapes. It is quite an accessible game as the first few stages are very easy and break you into the game quite comfortably. The narration keeps you entertained and had me giggling throughout. The controls are very simple and makes it easy to grab and go. There are no boss levels to contend with and if you get stuck you can always come back later and try again. I really enjoyed playing this game as it was a different take on the genre. The design is simple bright shapes against a dark background which makes it really easy to see and to recognise who is who as each character is a different colour and size. The one downside to playing this game on a PlayStation Vita is that sometimes the game is quite hard to hear so I would recommend playing this game with headphones if you choose to play it on the handheld device. However it is also available on the PS3, PC and Mac. Thomas Was Alone is retailing at £5.99 on the PlayStation Store and I think it is well worth checking out.
MLG Rating: 8/10 Platform: PlayStation Vita / PlayStation 3 / PC / Mac Release Date: 05/06/13
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer Community Member TeeJ_x downloaded Thomas Was Alone as part of her PlayStation Plus package. The title was reviewed over the course of 1 week on a PlayStation Vita. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.