Thomas Was Alone, and then, Well, he Wasn't.
Thomas Was Alone is an indie minimalist 2D platformer about friendship and jumping and floating and anti-gravity. Guide a group of rectangles through a series of obstacles, using their different skills together to get to the end of each environment.
Listen to awesome music by David Housden. Jump over rectangles meticulously placed by Mike Bithell. Listen to voiceover read wistfully and a bit amusingly by Danny Wallace.
Thomas Was Alone tells the story of the world's first sentient AIs, and how they worked together to, well, not escape: Escape is a strong word. 'Emerge' might be better. 'Emerge' has an air of importance about it, while keeping the myriad plot twists and superhero origin stories you'll discover under wraps. We didn't even mention the bouncing. That'd be overkill.
All the way back in November 2104 back when Nintendo Miiverse was still a thing my timeline was full of friends posting screenshots and encouraging words about a little red (ish) rectangle called Thomas.
I have to be honest it didn’t look all that appealing to me a few coloured squares and rectangles in addition to game play elements that looked little more than a simple platforming at best.
I never judge a game on graphics regardless how simple or ultra realistic they are, game play has and always will be the most important thing to me.
If the game play doesn't connect with me at least on some level then what i looks like will make absolutely no difference.
At no point looking at all the screenshots did I believe Thomas would connect with me.
But I was still being told over and over again I have to buy this game and give Thomas a chance.
And finally on my birthday in 2015 I did.
Jump forward to today and not only do I own Thomas was alone on the Wii U but also on PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita, Android and Steam and Xbox One.
Thomas was alone isn’t only one of my favourite indie games of all time despite its simplicity in terms of looks and game play it will forever be one of my favourite games of all time period!
The aim of the game is rather simple get a shape (or shapes on many levels) from their starting point to their finishing point)
To keep things just about varied enough by adding new elements and puzzles.
As well as each of the shapes having their own unique characteristics and abilities to mix up the game play depending on the level layout and the shapes you have available to you.
I hope as time moves on more companies and in particular players will come to realise that it's not the development time or the budget that makes a great game, but a great idea, well executed can be just as good and just as fun.
Danny Wallace provides in my opinion the best voice overs in a video game ever recorded.
Every single level features a well written script that offers witty and charming quotes throughout.
If commentary is more your thing you can turn off the voice overs and listen to commentary on every level by the games creator Mike Bithell.
And of course you also have the option to turn off both and play the game without any voices at all if you'd prefer to play that way.
Every level also has an online leaderboard for the time taken to complete but for the most part this appears to be largely ignored and not always loading times as it should (across multiple systems) but it's still a nice little addition all the same.
Despite my early hesitation and eventual love for the game Thomas and his friends still won't be for everyone.
I personally know a number of people and read the comments online of many others who will only play games based on the gaming genre and budget or company involved in creating the product.
No matter what I or any other fan of the game (including some of the critic reviews included here) are going to win them over.
The game also isn't difficult and the 120 levels will be beat by most in well under 5 hours.
Of course some will find a quick short burst game exactly what they are looking for while many others like a much more fleshed out affair.
Thomas Was Alone released in 2012 and as I write this in January 2019 it's fair to say that the majority of players who had any real desire to play the game would have probably done so by now.
However every year more and more potential players are introduced to new games or new systems.
Maybe you're looking for a game to introduce some light puzzling / platforming to a newer gamer.
Maybe you're an experienced gamer who is just looking to expand their collection with a game you over looked in the past.
Regardless what your reason or motivation if you're looking for a new, relatively cheap game to play you could do far far worse than Thomas Was Alone.
Thomas Was Alone has been around for a good while, yet its impressive achievement of marrying simplicity with a detailed narrative remains as a stand-out. It's an experience that should be accessible for all Wii U owners, as it focuses on simple puzzles, clever twists and — above all — storytelling; it's never an overly difficult or challenging title. It seems strange to be immersed in the tale of geometric shapes, yet we formed a bond with each character. The Wii U eShop has a number of top-notch download games produced with care and passion; this belongs right up there in that elite group.
Thomas Was Alone was a top title when it originally released, and it remains so today. Aside from some touchpad features, virtually nothing has changed in this PS4 port – but that’s fine considering that it’s fully cross-buy compatible. If you’ve played the indie before, then you’ll need to decide whether you want it to keep you company again. Newcomers are encouraged to give it a go, too, if only to examine the way in which it manages to bring personality to two-dimensional shapes.
Thomas Was Alone sells itself as “a minimalist game about jumping and friendship” – and unlike most slogans, this one doesn’t overstate itself. I can say with reasonable confidence that it is the most endearingly characterful game about jumping rectangles that you will ever play. The understated aesthetic design and unusual co-op puzzles will absorb you for the game’s duration – the wit and personality of the writing, though, will stay with you for much longer.
Meet Thomas, a curious rectangle, and help him unravel the mysteries of his existence in a wonderfully strange world.
If you're looking for some meaningful storytelling in a video game, you will love Thomas Was Alone. If you're after a challenge, though, best to steer clear
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