Thomas was Alone, at its core is a puzzle-platformer game revolving around a group of quadrilaterals with varying personalities, shapes, sizes and abilities. However, the game’s greatest achievement is not the gameplay but the story-telling. Despite the minimalist approach, it tells a very moving story about the first self-aware artificial intelligence (A.I) and the events that follows.
The game was developed by Mike Bithell and narrated by Danny Wallace. It was originally released as a flash game back in 2010. In 2012, the game was expanded upon and eventually released for Windows and OS X systems.
The game gently eases you in with easily solved puzzles before slowing increasing the complexity of the puzzles. While the solutions are straightforward, it may bend your mind when other elements come into play such as inverted gravity, paints that change the ‘special’ ability of a block and so forth. Some levels are more tedious compared to others but overall, I did enjoy the game tremendously. Failure does occasionally occur while playing but it is often because you need to be precise with the timing of your jumps.
The game takes place inside a computer mainframe where the A.I perceives the world as 2D and themselves as quadrilaterals. You begin with A.I named Thomas (obviously) but after some unknown event occurs, some of the A.I has become self-aware. Thomas starts out on his own at first, but not for long as other blocks join him in his quest to create a better world for fellow A.Is.
Each ‘chapter’ is divided into a number of levels and upon starting a new chapter, it will begin with a quote with either a quote from fictional characters or newspaper. Over time, more characters brought in and more complex levels come into play as you master the abilities of the new characters.
Did I mention each block has a special ability? Each block has their own ability that is entirely unique to that block which can vary from: floating in water with no ill effects, double jumping, inverted gravity and acting as a bounce pad for other blocks to name a few. Of course, you have to use the unique abilities of each block to navigate through the level to reach the portal.
Danny Wallace did an excellent job narrating the story in Thomas Was Alone. His narration absorbs the player into the story, the writing creates almost a powerful bond between the characters and player giving the game an emotional impact. A fact that is only amplified by the great supporting soundtrack of the game. The story keeps you engaged by motivating you to keep playing to find out what happens to Thomas and his gang of fellow quadrilaterals. There is even humor in the game due to the witty writing and personality given to the block such as Claire, a large blue square who is absolutely convinced she is a superhero (despite a distinct lack of a heroic cape) solely based on the fact she can float in water. There is even a bit of a love story which I admittedly found both amusing and adorable.
In short, I sincerely do recommend you guys try this game out. It has a fantastic story with great gameplay. The puzzles while not overly challenging, still give a sense of satisfaction upon solving them. The quadrilaterals really do not seem like they are just shapes but rather characters that you can connect with. The soundtrack was a complete joy listening too. Even listening to Danny Wallace just narrating was great.
Unfortunately the only downside to this game is that it does not have replay value. Once you are finished with the game, you are really and truly done with the game. Do not let that fact scare you away though as the experience of playing this game is worth it. The game is relatively cheap as well, with the price of $10.50SGD which is equal to about $8-9 USD.
ps: Happy Halloween!