Thomas Was Alone – PS3
Platform: PlayStation 3 (PSN)
Developer: Mike Bithell
Publisher: Bossa Studios, Curve Studios
Release Date (NA): April 23, 2013
Nerd Rating: 8 out of 10
Reviewed by Shadow Links
Thomas Was Alone is an indie title that was originally a flash game released on Kongregate before being removed to be revamped for release on PSN, Windows, Mac OSX, and Linux. As with most flash games it has a very simple premise yet separates itself with an eerie experience.
The core plot revolves around an AI called Thomas who is represented by a small red 2×1 vertical rectangle that can move and jump. Due to some “event” Thomas has gained sentience and observes the world around him and his own actions as he writes them down in his journal. Exploring the world, he discovers things such as his exceptional ability to fall, portals, and other sentient AI represented by different shapes, colors, and abilities like jumping higher or floating on water.
Thomas never says a word, nor does anyone else, other than the Narrator, voiced by humorist Danny Wallace, whom some may recognize as Shawn from the Assassins Creed series. He did such a brilliant job that he even earned a BAFTA performance award for the role. He humorously tells the player what every AI is thinking at the start of each level and at various moments during the stage. This gives each AI a personality and unique traits, such as Christopher the small square – a rather moody fellow who has a chip on his shoulder about not being able to jump high.
True to the genre, this puzzle/platformer has you solving puzzles by jumping around a cutout black environment while avoiding various obstacles like water or spikes and utilizing each AI’s ability and shapes to move each further through the levels. A rather odd piano soundtrack by David Housden plays in the background giving a sense of curiosity and emptiness. Each piece for each AI was made to play to the attributes that you feel from each character.
This was a rather enlightening game to play. The decision to not make this a simple platformer, but to give the shapes human attributes and names makes Thomas Was Alone seem like far more than rectangles and squares moving around a level. This changes the feel of the game from something you do to pass the time on your phone, to a game with a story, feelings, and twists normally never present. Graphically I could care less if it looked better or worse, and thus didn’t play into my rating. The only downside to the game was the difficulty since it was extremely easy to finish in a sitting or two. While this partly relates to the length of the game (100 levels), I realized it wasn’t going to be long since I bought it for less than $3 on sale (normally $10), but it still remains that the puzzle design was very straightforward to solve despite the creative design of the levels.
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