Thomas Was Alone Review (PS3/PS Vita)
We also reviewed Thomas Was alone recently on PC. For Ryan’s thoughts go here.
After a critically acclaimed release on PC last year, Mike Bithell’s Thomas Was Alone has reached the PlayStation Network (playable on both PS3 and PS Vita) thanks to Sony’s continued support of the indie gaming scene. A minimalist, geometric, puzzle-platformer – Thomas Was Alone tells us the story of the first sentient artificial intelligence as he seeks for understanding of what he is and why.
Thomas Was Alone’s biggest asset is its (literally) colourful cast of characters. Each have their own quirks, insecurities, flaws and strengths. For example – Thomas is naïve, Chris can be a bit grumpy and John loves to show off. All of these characters are lovable in their own ways and you really begin to care for them as the game progresses. And, I almost forgot to mention, they’re a bunch of coloured rectangles. Somehow, Thomas Was Alone can humanise these quadrilaterals and give them more personality than you would have thought possible. It’s an unbelievable feat that is achieved through some wonderfully written narration that is delivered, to perfection, by Danny Wallace.
The game plays as a puzzle-platformer and players begin with just Thomas – a red rectangle – who simply slides and jumps through the 2D environments. As the game progresses, players are given new characters of different shapes, sizes and abilities. One character can float in water, one exists in an inverted gravity plane while the rest all have their own unique advantages and disadvantages. The aim of the game is to lead each rectangle to their corresponding portal, switching between characters along the way and helping each other out, then you proceed to the next level once all are in position. The constant injection of new characters keeps Thomas Was Alone from becoming stale and, as the game advances, levels become more challenging without ever becoming frustrating.
Sadly, some control issues exist on the Vita version of the game. For no apparent reason, the game switches between characters all by itself. At first I feared that this was the dreaded, accidental back touch but the rear touch pad isn’t responsible for any controls in the game. Therefore these sudden switches appear to be random. This issue isn’t only frustrating but can cause you to fail a level if it occurs in the middle of a vital jump. Thankfully, it doesn’t seem to happen on the PS3 version.
Thomas Was Alone features cross play and does it the right way. Buy the game on one system and you have it on both. Even better is the fact that you can easily sync your save to the cloud, enabling you to pick up on the Vita where you left off on PS3 (or vice versa). It’s effortless.
A special mention must be made for the beautiful soundtrack provided by David Housden. It adds so much to the experience of Thomas Was Alone, constantly providing the feeling that the game is ramping up to something spectacular. The music lies perfectly in the middle of orchestral and bleeps ‘n’ bloops.
Pacing is another strength of the game as things never drag, dip or slow down. Thomas Was Alone shouldn’t take you any more than 3 or 4 hours to finish but that’s a good thing. It never exploits any of its features and you’re never allowed to become bored of any of the characters as they’re all given their own time to shine – both alone and with the others. Some levels are more tedious than others but these are few and far between. The game is short but it’s consistent, consistently good and well worth the £5.99 price tag.
Thomas Was Alone is the definition of ‘the full package.’ It takes simple, yet effective, gameplay and couples it with beautiful music and an inventive narrative to make something truly special. Each facet of the game is a success and it’s an experience that you really shouldn’t miss. And, I can guarantee that you’ll never care for a rectangle like you’ll care for Thomas.Thomas Was Alone Review (PS3/PS Vita),