vogon's Thomas Was Alone (PC) review

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A square deal.

Thomas Was Alone is an intriguing platformer with good writing and storytelling and an excellent soundtrack; however, some flaws in the execution of the mechanics left me feeling like the game could use some more detail work.

The core mechanics are simple yet creative. A cast of twelve or so rectangles with different physics properties go "up and to the right" across ten worlds of ten levels each and their properties interact to give the player a wide array of interesting building blocks for platforming. But the level designs too often force the player to return to those building blocks which require finicky manipulation of the player characters and their environment, often resulting in a long trek back through a completed portion of the level after a poorly-judged move makes things fall apart. Jumps are sometimes difficult to judge because the game's camera is always skewed at an angle; some characters fall upwards, making it even harder to figure out how they will behave. The camera is automated and fixed to the active character at all times, and also has an annoying habit of being either too tight, making it difficult to see where the end of the level is; or too wide, making it difficult to see what you're manipulating.

The story is interesting and told well, and largely focuses around the interactions of the characters themselves, their thoughts, feelings, and motivations; the descriptions of the outside world are spare, largely confined to fictional quotations which appear at the beginning of each chapter. The writing is clever and charming but not often laugh-out-loud funny, and touching at times but not a tear-jerker; it's conveyed quite well through emotive, friendly voice work on the part of Danny Wallace.

All in all, it is a very enjoyable game, well worth the $10 asking price, and a great way to spend a few hours. Just be prepared to walk away from it if the camera and controls start to give you grief.

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