Thomas Was Alone – Review

Thomas Was Alone is a simple platformer with a lot of charm. Watch the review for an idea of what this game is about.

Plus – The Good

  • Short levels do not require a large time commitment.
  • Minimalistic vibe is refreshing and music is excellent.
  • Great cast of “characters” and an interesting story.

Minus – The Bad

  • Not particularly challenging.
  • Somewhat lackluster conclusion.
  • Zero replay value.

Score 8 Large – The Verdict

Thomas Was Alone goes back to the roots of the platforming genre but offers a modern message through its creative storytelling. It’s hard to believe that someone could get attached to a bunch of rectangles as characters, but this game proves that a good narrative can immerse a player in the game world regardless of its physical appearance. While the ending did leave something to be desired (in my opinion),  and the game didn’t really stress me out with its overly simple platforming mechanics, Thomas Was Alone still stands out as a must-play game for all ages.


 Extra Discussion by Mike

Here we are with another extended review for Thomas Was Alone. Nick previously reviewed this game back in April 2014 for the PlayStation Vita and PlayStation 3 platforms while I will be discussing my playthrough of the PC/Windows specific release. The game remains the same on both platforms with the PC release receiving two extra chapters that were originally a timed exclusive for the PlayStation platforms. We both share very similar opinions overall of this game so if you previously watched the video review you can skip to the PC specifics near the ending of this extra discussion.

The game starts off with some mentions of artificial intelligence solutions being tested and some sort of failure has made them self aware. Following that you are immediately put in control of an AI called Thomas. His capabilities are average in every sense and he is also very observant by nature. As you move through various levels you begin meeting other AIs who have varying capabilities and equally unique personalities which are all wonderfully voiced by some great voice acting. While there is a backing story about this company testing various AI solutions, the characters and their thoughts and personality is the true story here. Despite every AI being some sort of coloured rectangle the game is able to characterize them in such a way that you can easily connect to them. This is pretty impressive considering these are faceless characters and it just goes to show how far good and strong storytelling will go in games.

Every level in the game has some sort of platforming puzzle which makes use of each character’s unique shape and abilities. The stages tend to be easy to solve as the challenges are designed with a single and obvious solution in mind. This point is further demonstrated with the completion requirements for that level as well, every AI present on the stage has a silhouette it must occupy before moving onto the next one. This can often give you some hints where each character should go on larger levels which only leaves you with the task of figuring what order they should be arriving in. While some puzzles are clever you are never really challenged as you simply need to figure out the ordering before moving onto the next one.

Before wrapping up there are a few PC specific worth noting. The first is that the game will ‘end’ and start rolling the credits at the end of Chapter 9. You will need to go back to the mission select to play the extra two chapters which were later added to the game. I also had some input lag issues throughout my first 2 hours but it was never an issue. In the later stages where the platforming timings became significantly tighter this became rather annoying, a quick search revealed that reducing the graphics preset by 1 setting rectified the issue. It wasn’t a massive issue but losing the anti-aliasing setting from this was a bit distracting, it would have been nice to have manual/custom settings in the game for us power users.

Overall Thomas Was Alone is a wonderful example for strong character building and storytelling. The clean and simple graphics are very nice and so is the appropriate soundtrack for every situation. Unfortunately I never felt challenged by the platforming and puzzle solving as the solutions always felt extremely obvious. But despite that my 3 hour playthrough of the 110 levels found in the game was very enjoyable and definitely worthwhile at that.


 

Full disclosure

  • Play time: Roughly 2 hours.

  • Completion: All levels completed.

  • Last played:  March 29th, 2014

  • Version: 1.01

  • Platform: PlayStation Vita

  • Acquisition: Free via PS+ subscription