Also On: PSN, PC
Publisher: Curve Studios
Developer: Curve Studios
I don’t think I can rave enough about how much I loved Thomas Was Alone. If I could get away with it, my review would basically consist of “Buy this game now” repeated a few hundred times, preferably in big block letters. I can’t remember the last time I played a game that left me grinning like a crazy person the entire way through. I also can’t remember the last time I finished a game and immediately wanted to start playing again, just to experience everything I may have missed the first time around.
Basically, what I’m saying is: Thomas Was Alone is awesome.
How awesome? So awesome that it draws you in and makes you feel emotionally invested in what happens to a bunch of bouncing squares and rectangles. So awesome that it not only has arguably the funniest, most well-written script since Portal 2, it also has a commentary track that’s also arguably the best writing since Portal 2 (and as far as I’m concerned, Portal 2 is the absolute pinnacle of video game writing). So awesome that it’s…well, so, so awesome.
Have I mentioned the game is so good it leaves me at a loss for words?
Okay, self: deep breaths. Calm down. Try to explain to others why they need to buy Thomas Was Alone immediately (immediately! right now!), before you devolve into random letters interspersed with links to buy both the PS Vita and PS3 versions. Phew.
Sorry about that, but it’s hard not to feel a little attached to the game. Creator Mike Bithell has done an amazing job of taking a puzzle-platformer where you play as a bunch of shapes with different jumping abilities, and giving each of those squares and rectangles distinct personalities. He does this thanks to writing that’s absolutely top-notch, with a narrator (Danny Wallace) who manages to be cute without cloying, wistful without being maudlin. And not only that, the game’s score is beautiful, capturing the competing feelings of hope and fear and claustrophobia that the shapes (presumably) feel being locked inside mazes they need to escape, but never sounding too dark or heavy.
And, of course, it helps that the gameplay is pretty amazing, too. Each level expects you to think about the solution, but they never cross the line into throw-your-controller/Vita-across-the-room-in-anger impossible. That, obviously, would distract from the story — and as I said, Thomas Was Alone’s story is something that demands your full attention and investment.
As for criticisms…it’s possible, I guess, that some people might be put off by how quickly you can play through the game. I get that. However, I also think that’s not a valid criticism, since Thomas Was Alone really requires at least two playthroughs — once to enjoy the game as it is, and once more with Bithell’s commentary turned on.
All of which is to say: buy Thomas Was Alone. Buy it for yourself. Buy it for your friends. Buy it for random strangers on the street. It’s seriously that good.