Remember the old cliche that games will one day be like Pixar movies? Despite its simple appearance Thomas Was Alone is that game. I’m not talking about fancy graphics with individually rendered hair. I mean that Pixar can take an inanimate object like a [url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cdtHSyfcSDs]small lamp[/url] and give it life. So it seems, can Mike Bithell (creator of Thomas Was Alone).
In fact, the personalities are so fleshed out and the narration so well acted you find yourself actually rooting for the little squares. You want them to succeed and genuinely feel sad when something goes wrong. It just goes to show that even the crudest shadow puppet show can capture your imagination if it is well written and acted. Don’t get me wrong though, while the art design is simple the game is very attractive. For example the use of directional light is fantastic and helps guide you through certain sections or subtlety alerts you to your next task.You play as Thomas, an extremely observant, cheerful but above all lonely AI. He might just be represented in game by coloured quadrilateral but Thomas (and the other characters) have fleshed out personalities. This is achieved through the addition of inspired narration by UK filmmaker/comedian/smartassdudeinAssassinsCreed Danny Wallace.
The goal of each level is to get each character to their corresponding shaped portals. All the AI’s have their unique ability which are integral to beating the level in a puzzle like fashion. For example, some AI’s have immunity to otherwise lethal environments but cannot jump very high so they may need a boost up a small step. It’s a system that melds very well with the narrative, you find yourself constantly working as a cohesive team to the point that when you see the players together you imagine them as a digital X-men despite them being crude shapes.
Mechanically this game is surprisingly sound. Platforming can go horribly wrong and getting ‘the jump’ right is extremely important. Thankfully the controls are just right, you have great control of your character mid air and i rarely found myself missing platforms because of dodgy gravity.
I’m not going to lie, the game isn’t particularly difficult. I never really got stumped on any of the puzzles but i rarely cared because my reward for finishing the level was an extra bit of story, which is nothing short of delightful. According to Steam i beat the game in 94 minutes, but the game is currently half price on Steam and i really felt like i got my moneys worth.
It’s hard to convey but when I finished the game I just felt nice. The same feeling you’d get after seeing Monsters Inc or The Muppet Movie. I used the word delightful earlier, and it really is the best word to describe this game. I wholeheartedly recommend taking a break from shooting stuff or stabbing arrows in people’s faces and go enjoy a feel good adventure.
The game is also free on Vita next month for EU Playstation Plus members, so you really have no excuse.