In a time where graphics are constantly becoming clearer, crisper and more detailed with an emphasis on realism, Thomas Was Alone reminds us that you don’t need any of that for a great game. What looks like a regular platformer with the most basic of graphics is a moving story of friendship.
It was originally developed as a browser game before being expanded and released on PCs. Luckily for us it was then developed by Curve Studios and brought to the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita on 24th April as a Cross-Buy title. There are no complaints for the Cross-Buy and Cross-Save systems here. Transferring your save data between your PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita is simple and convenient. I mainly played the PlayStation 3 version but this is a game that loses none of its appeal moving to the Vita. There are no control issues and the images remain bright and clear. In fact it may even be better to play on the Vita, though that will be down to personal choice. For example I found Soundshapes to suit my Vita better. This was another minimalist styled game, though even this has much more visual detail than Thomas Was Alone. It is €7.49 to buy or PS Plus subscribers can download it for free.
The main hero is Thomas, a red rectangle. Thomas isn’t a red rectangle representing a human in some throwback to old video game visuals, he is actually just a red rectangle. As you lead him through simple platforming levels you meet other squares and rectangles who join your group. Each of these are totally unique with their own name, personality and ability. Their thoughts are described by an unseen narrator. Listening to their opinions on each other and how they feel about their predicaments is what motivates you through each level; you want to hear more about them and what they’re doing. At the beginning I did not expect to be rooting for Claire (a large blue square) or caring about a pink rectangle’s worries about others using and leaving her. Each character grows as the game progresses, they understand each other better and some change their views on life. This is a testament to what talented writing can do for a game; here is a compelling story with featureless rectangles as characters. Not only that but it proves again how important voice acting is, the narration throughout is excellently performed by Danny Wallace. Personally I found the soundtrack a bit grating but at points it too added to the mood and suspense.
There are 100 levels to play through. They begin very basic and gradually add more elements to the mix. Very few of these offer any challenge though, once you work out the simple puzzles there is little you will have trouble with. Due to the ease with which you will go through these levels and their size, the game is pretty short. Considering the cheap price this isn’t a bad thing, even though I was left wanting more, it was a satisfying ending. DLC is available which introduces you to a new character with a new ability. There is no multiplayer but for players who want 100% completion there is replayability in finding and reaching certain items in each section.
For PS Plus Subscribers, trying this game is a no brainer. If an interesting and well written story is what piques your interest in games then I would recommend regular players to buy a copy of Thomas Was Alone too.