Many developers have been going darker with the tones of stories lately. It's time we stop asking definitively if this is a good or bad thing and consider the artistic value at hand.
Thomas Was Alone Review: It’s Amazing What You Can Do With Blocks
To be honest, when I first heard about the downloadable game Thomas Was Alone I wasn’t completely sold on it. A game about various sized and shaped blocks? Why would I want to play that? It sounded like something I would find in the app store for my cellphone or on a flash game website, which it ironically was first. Here’s the thing though; it is awesome. There was no wool pulled over my eyes, no false information given to me. This really is a game about blocks, each just ever so slightly distinct from the last. So you may ask just as I did, why would I want to play that? Well, the answer can be summarized pretty quickly. You get emotionally involved. Yes that is correct, if you play this Thomas Was Alone you will start caring, attributing personalities, and falling in love with these single color coded various lengths of block.
The whole idea behind the game is pretty simple and, at the start, is something that anyone would be able to pick up and start playing. The objective is to get from point A to point B, and that proves easy enough while Thomas is, as you have probably guessed, alone. Very soon however, the game forsakes its own title and plops another block alongside Thomas. He is Chris, and quite frankly he is a tad grumpy from the get-go. He seems upset that Thomas moves faster, jumps higher, and finds enjoyment at analyzing his surroundings, so naturally he harbors anger towards Thomas from the moment the two meet. From there you’ll run into a whole medley of different colored and shaped blocks each with their own unique abilities and personalities. There is a large block that can float in the water that serves up a swift death to any other block, so naturally she believes she is a super hero. There is also a long and slim block that can jump higher than any other, which leads him to think he is better than all of the others. So, let me take a moment here and just let everyone know that this game has no cut scenes or dialogue other than a narrator.
The game progresses as a puzzle platformer. The player is tasked with moving the motley crew to the designated areas. You’ll overcome countless obstacles set before you by stacking the blocks to reach new heights or utilizing certain character’s abilities, such as Claire’s ability to safely submerge in water. As the game goes on, the puzzles get intensely more fun and intricate as things such as timing or moving hazards come into play.
Thomas Was Alone gives players subtle storytelling throughout the whole game and it’s one of the best features about the game. The blocks, or should I say characters, themselves don’t talk or have any dialogue. Instead, a very nice British chap tends to narrate the thought and conscience of the block you’re controlling. This is the only form of story that exists in Thomas Was Alone, and you’d be amazed at how well it works. As you play, you begin to get a feel for how each of these blocks feels and will react to the other ones. You know that the small block, Chris, doesn’t like Thomas, but you also learn in time that he has a crush on one of the others. All the while Claire, the large buoyant block, is contemplating who her arch nemesis could be now that she is a superhero. As you play this game, and hear more and more about the characters from the narrator, you begin to grow attached to these characters. Suddenly you’re emotionally invested in Chris’ crush or you’re finding yourself thinking John is a decent guy, but thinks too much of himself. You’ll suddenly realize that all of these intricate plots and personalities are about assorted blocks, and that’s when the true beauty of the game sets in.
All of these things on top of a really cool mellow soundtrack that plays throughout the game make it something you can pick up and play at leisure, or binge out on for a day or two. Thomas Was Alone is an excellent choice for anyone who is looking for a downloadable game to play. It is available on both the PC/Mac as well as on the PSN.