There is a fine line between brilliance and mediocrity and Thomas Was Alone straddles this line throughout its relatively short campaign. On the one hand it is a marvel of modern indie game development, smart, funny, well written and simple but addictive gameplay. On the other hand the games lack of challenge is a huge stumbling block.
The Thomas that the games title refers to is a polygonal shape that represents an AI entity who has to find his way from one side of a level to another. As the title suggests Thomas ‘was’ Alone and he is soon joined by a cast of different shaped polygonal AI all with differing abilities and personalities. The blocks don’t speak but their thoughts are wonderfully conveyed by humour writer and occasional actor Danny Wallace whom you may know as Shaun Hastings from the Assassin’s Creed games. His lines are brilliantly delivered and superbly written with more than a hint of Glados from Portal in the tone and delivery of the narration.
That’s not the only similarity to Valve’s masterpiece, the gameplay feel almost like a 2D Portal with the basic premise of each level being to get from point A to point B by solving puzzles that get relatively tougher and more convoluted as the game progresses. The various different shapes need to help each other (some reluctantly) to complete the level, a gameplay tactic that really adds depth to the game.
For anyone familiar with the Playstation Minis brand you may recall a game called Where Is My Heart, a game that used a very similar mechanic to very similar effect and its when I realised this that I started picking at the threads of this game. To be fair the platforming physics feel great and as a simple game its great but, and I hate to say this; it feels like an iPhone game. Now please don’t get me wrong I love iPhone gaming but its a rear day when I would pay anything close to £8 for an iOS game. This brings up an important argument, is it fair to judge a game by how much it costs. Should a games worth really be measured by its hours to pounds ratio and the answer is of course not, but that doesn’t detract from the basic fact that Thomas Was Alone is a brilliant but extremely simple game that feels like it belongs in the Playstation Mobile section of the Vita store than the main store itself.
Having played the game on Vita and PS3 I have to say the game feels right at home on the Vita, the gameplay lending itself perfectly to handheld gaming, although the urge to finish one more level can have you reaching for the charger rather that doing anything productive. I guess the main criticism I can level at Thomas Was Alone then is that its all over too soon, the game has so many great ideas that it feels like the possibilities for this game were almost infinite so when the game finished I couldn’t help but be disappointed.
In summary could I recommend you part with your hard earned to play Thomas Was Alone, well yes I could, if you’ve read through this review and like what you hear then go for it. If however you are merely curious about it please wait for a price drop or sale.
+Super simple to pick up.
-Some might say too simple.
+Crisp, clear and concise.
-Not much variety.