Thomas Was Alone Reviews

  • LifeExpectancyLifeExpectancy1,671,909
    12 Feb 2015 18 Aug 2015
    49 10 8
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    Thomas Was Alone, developed and published by Curve Digital and another addition via the ID@Xbox program, is a platformer with light puzzle elements. It eschews completely the approach that we need to be hooked by eye candy. How so? Because the main character is a square.

    No, I don't mean the main character isn't cool, that T-Birds would refuse to let him in and don a black leather jacket on him. I mean he's literally a square, well... more accurately he's a rectangle I suppose, not an actual square. In fact, all of the characters are rectangles of various lengths and heights.

    It is with this brilliant stroke that the developer shows us that character development is, in fact, possible without the artifice of high-fidelity graphics and realistic (or fantastic) characters. With excellent voiceover narration done by humorist Danny Wallace, and an engaging score by David Housden, Thomas Was Alone draws the player into a computer world where multiple AI routines have become uncontrolled, taking on personalities and attempting to do.... something. I won't spoil it for you.

    TWA is a super easy completion, and as with with its kin like Limbo and Unmechanical, it's approachable even for those not skilled in the arts of puzzling and platforming. The narration truly does make the game, though, so if you're one of those kooks that plays games without the audio, I'd suggest turning it up for this one, as all of the character development and story comes from the dulcet tones of the game's narrator.

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    The graphics are, of course, as basic as they come. Your characters are rectangles. The environments are (mostly) rectangles of various shapes and sizes. The colors are minimal and consist of mostly two-tone backgrounds with your many rectangular characters taking center-stage due to their bright colors.

    The gameplay is surprisingly deep for such a brief journey. Different characters have different attributes such as longer or shorter jumps, the ability to 'bounce' their friends like a trampoline, and even a double jump for the smallest of the bunch.

    Achievement perspective - all the achievements in this game are quite simple. With a video guide it should be rather easy to complete the game in around 3 hours or less. Without one you may get stumped for a bit on a few puzzles, but should still easily get the 1k in 4-5 hours. The collectibles are all in rather obvious places, so you should find most of them without trying and can pull up a guide for the one or two you happen to struggle with.

    Not much more can be said about this one other than how enjoyable it is if you're willing to expand your horizons for this type of fair. I absolutely feel like it's worth the $10.99, and am highly anticipating the game's creator, Mike Bithell, as he brings forth his next outing in game creation.
    Showing most recent comments. View all comments.
    bennjjeeAn absolute masterpiece of a game in my view.
    Posted by bennjjee on 21 Mar 16 at 11:12
    NicoleRenee00Nice review! I was skeptical about this game, especially because I don't care for the genre. But I ended up really liking it. The review is spot on.
    Posted by NicoleRenee00 on 16 Dec 18 at 17:53
    Fabulous Game
    Posted on 16 Apr 20 at 05:28
  • Team BretherTeam Brether1,342,686
    21 Oct 2015 21 Oct 2015
    21 0 3
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    I have had Thomas Was Alone on my radar for a while. Looking on this site it looked like a platformer with easy achievements, low ratios, a short completion, and a decent rating from the community, the type of game that I look for in between playing longer retail games for a quick gamerscore boost. How wrong I was to think that was all I would be getting. Instead of a forgetful shameless boost I got an enchanting little game that reminds me why I play all and sundry. It’s these types of games that you can go into with little expectations and come out all warm and fuzzy, that you don’t often get, and definitely not from overhyped triple A titles.

    I actually picked Thomas Was Alone up in a recent sale for £1.80, I’ll pretty much play anything for that price unless it’s a very long completion, even if it’s a genre I dislike. I am actually disappointed I paid that, because it feels unfair for me to have only given the developer and publisher, Curve Digital, that pittance. (However any future releases I will pretty much buy on sight).

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    The game then, is a pretty straightforward platformer with mainly simplistic puzzles. You control one or several different coloured rectangles, of which Thomas is one of them. Each of the rectangles has its own simple clichéd attribute, from a single jump, double jump, or can be bounced on, to one I won’t spoil, and each rectangular character has its own shape and size, from a thin tall one to a horizontal one. So by design, each character has its own strength and ergo its own weakness too. The characters, (I am reluctant to call them rectangles as they have their own personalities, seriously), are planted in an abstract matrix of colour and obstacles, (the levels), and usually have to work together to get to their own personal exit of the level. The horizontal one, Laura, for example doesn’t have much of a jump so you may need to stack others so she can climb obstacles. Or others may need to use her as a trampoline to reach higher points. Teamwork is key. And that is where the brilliant narration comes in, voiced by Danny Wallace, (the annoying Shaun if you remember from Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood onwards), but far from having a distasteful character in this game, voices all the characters in the third person brilliantly. What makes the narration special is that you are effectively listening to each character's thoughts, feelings, and self-talk, such as Laura’s worries that the others were ‘using her’ by bouncing on her, Chris’s hate towards Thomas, and Benjamin’s overconfidence. The thing is, this is how real life is, in fact it’s almost too real for a video game, rather than pretending everyone gets along all the time, the narration lets us hear each individual's foibles, fears, worries, and thoughts on each other, and therefore we get to know each character's personality, forcing us to like them or at least respect them, cheer for our favourites, and perhaps dislike the ones who maybe a bit too close to ourselves or people we dislike. Deep stuff for a bunch of polygons.

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    The personalising of the characters is backed up by the emotive music that matches the mood and story perfectly. (I’m not one to gush and dish out that sort of compliment lightly either). The music definitely strikes a chord for want of a better expression, and mirrors what’s going on indescribably well. What I also liked about the music is that I noticed in the sets of 10 levels, (x12 for 120 total levels), the music continued through the end of one level to the next thus keeping continuation. A good conscious choice, it also keeps you playing. I played through the game in 3 sittings and it's not a difficult game at all. There is a modicum of difficulty, it isn’t for children, but it is never pull-your-hair-out platforming. You may through trial and error have to restart a level, or a checkpoint, but it is geared so you make a mistake and by doing so you then know what to do, so it never gets overly difficult. Die hard platformers may want a more taxing challenge, but it would be folly to swerve this game due to, well any reason really, but it being easy is definitely one. I think it took a shade under 5 hours to complete. You can effectively skip the last 20 levels but why would anyone do that?! Most achievements are for finding the 2 collectibles ‘hidden’ in each set of 10 levels. And when I say hidden, they are never really hidden, just off the beaten track. I missed the odd one but found them all in the end through level select.

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    Overall when you realise Thomas Was Alone was basically made by one man, plus the narrator and composer, you can’t help but feel a little awed that in a World of big-budget gaming, a simple game of shifting a bunch of rectangles around a level can resonate with you so well. You take the narration, story, and music away you have nothing really, but everything fits together harmoniously and leaves you feeling a little happier about yourself, and the World in general. For what it is, which is an ID@Xbox game, it deserves no less than full marks.
  • AlertCat WeaselAlertCat Weasel392,322
    04 Nov 2019
    3 0 0
    Thomas was alone was developed by solo developer Mike Bithell, and published by Curve digital. Its a single player puzzle platform game which has been released since November 2014 but came to my attention when it joined the Gamepass collection.

    Thomas was alone is set in a computer mainframe, where an unspecified event has caused several A.I routines to run out of control & gain personalities, they perceive their new found world as a 2D space and they themselves are represented as quadrilateral shapes. Each shape is characterised by a unique name, colour, size and shape.
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    The lead character Thomas who is a red rectangle believes that there is more to life, he wants to explore, he wants to know more about his new found world. On his journey you note he has limited abilities, he like all the characters can move left & right, and jump up & down, this movement can be limited by their size and shapes. Each has a special ability; floating on water, inverted jumping or simply being able to jump higher than the others. As the additional players are unlocked you note very quickly that each of their independent skills are intertwined, and if they wish to succeed they must work together to reach the end goal.

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    The goal is to move the shapes to a designated area designed only for them, when this is achieved they will all simultaneously exit.

    You soon learn to admire each of the rectangles limitations, & ensure that they all work together to achieve their target. If a shape cannot jump to an out of reach platform, then create a staircase, if a body of water blocks your path use the floating shape as a boat.

    The game is composed of 12 levels & each level has 10 stages, all are relatively easy to complete. As you progress to each new stage a new character is added, & a new element to the puzzle is implemented.

    There is no speech among the characters, the story, emotions, & thoughts are expressed brilliantly by the narration that can be heard throughout the game. The script used for this tale is comical and lighthearted, but is written in such a way that it builds empathy towards the protagonists, and you do feel for the plight of the rectangles as they aim to travel up, up and to the right. The soundtrack is simple and piano music plays in the background allowing you to concentrate on the game play unfolding in front of you.

    Controls are simple and easy to pick up. The tasks to complete each stage are relatively simple & the button mapping does reflect this. My only gripe was having to scroll though the whole team of shapes to find the one I needed, as you may only control one shape at a time.

    Graphically it's a bunch of colourful quadrilaterals jumping through a simple and uninspiring landscape. The colours used make each character stand out and they are easily identifiable from one another. Like the sound track the developer has allowed its narrator and game play to take center stage, the game concept does not need the graphics to blow you away.

    Achievement hunters this game is extremely easy to be awarded the full 1000 gamerscore, and this can be achieved in approximately 4 hours. Though you may be unfortunate as I was and receive several glitches and have to complete the game several times before they all unlock.

    A lighthearted affair with a melancholy twist that grips the player almost instantly. The implementation of new characters regularly adds a layer of difficulty which is warmly welcomed. The narration makes this game a joy to return to, & the quirky nature of each of the shapes drives you to help them succeed. As a puzzle game its not overly difficult, but the length of the game ensures that you do not get bored. The option to replay the game is limited, but if you do find yourself wanting to sit through the tale again you will still find the story line amusing, & Thomas and the gang as refreshing as the first time you played through.