Jul 29, 2014
To be frank, I was prepared to write up a review of Thomas Was Alone even before installing it on my tablet. I’ve already completed it on my PC several months ago and been listening to the soundtrack ever since. It’s really tempting to call it a masterpiece in game design even though, in all fairness, the game owes most of its appeal to the supreme soundtrack, writing, and voice acting.
At its core, Thomas Was Alone is a platformer puzzle with a simple premise. There’s a bunch of rectangular characters that have to make their way to their portals through different levels. The characters slightly differ in size, shape, and abilities. Well, “abilities”. They can only move left and right, and jump. One of them jumps higher than the others, one of them can double-jump, one can walk on the ceiling, stuff like that. Each level the player gets some combination of them and has to make them work together to pass it. It’s a compelling puzzle and it has a golden amount of challenge that is exactly difficult enough to not be frustrating, but let’s say, it wouldn’t be named among the best indie games in the world just from that.
The magic happens when you add a majestic story, as told by a talkative englishman and a simple electronic soundtrack that easily beats orchestral arrangements of the modern blockbusters in memorability. Actually, I’m listening to it right now, because it’s always on my playlist. Together, these elements create such a compelling charm that I admit getting rather emotional while playing Thomas Was Alone, even though it doesn’t try to shove any kinds of emotions in your face. The simple square shapes become fully fleshed-out characters, despite not uttering a word, and a simple puzzle becomes a brilliant story about fate, exploration, and free will.
As much as I hate to admit it, there’s a couple of issues with the Android release.of Thomas Was Alone, besides a hefty price tag. First, the character switching on the mobile isn’t that comfortable, although now that I think of it, it wasn’t that comfortable on PC either. Second, it started to stutter on my Samsung Captivate after a while. While it’s understandable that you should play it on something more powerful, and I didn’t have issues with my tablet, it could come as an unfortunate surprise for anyone who purchases it and doesn’t notice issues right away. Basically, just play it on a tablet and there won’t be any issues. Oh, and it’s a bit short, so expect to finish it in about three to four hours, including the additional campaign.