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Thomas Was Alone


Alan Stock
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RLLMUK, Y U NO LOVE THOMAS?!

If you haven't heard of Thomas Was Alone, it's a game about rectangles. "How droll, let me go back to taking arrows in the knee and watching Extended Cut Endings". No. You see, although it's a simple platformer puzzler with rectangles, the rectangles have personality. In fact you grow attached to the little blighters thanks to the excellent narration by comedian Danny Wallace. "Oh god that twat from Assassin's Creed". Yes, that one. But he's really good in this. The writing's great too, it's funny and light-hearted and paints each rectangle as an evolving AI with its own personality, and looks at their story in their simple world of platforms and unique abilities. The gameplay is enjoyable but really what drives you is to advance the story and hear more from the rectangles. You actually care about them. Even subtle differences like the tone of their jumping sound helps to add personality to a coloured block.

You control one rectangle at a time and can switch between them at will. All you have to do is get all the rectangles to the exits, combining their unique "abilities" - some are thinner, some can jump higher, some have a few unexpected abilities! They need each other to get to the end and the narration plays on this brilliantly.

The platforming does get quite tricky or this is a game I'd recommend your casual gaming buddies should play - in everything else it's very accessible, simple controls, simple premise, entertaining story, characters and nice ambience. The puzzling ramps up in difficulty but you'll never hit a complete roadblock, the difficulty is nicely judged here - and there are a few unexpected and clever twists to the puzzling too.

The graphics are very simple but beautiful in their own way - light often shining from a direction, casting long shadows as your little quadrilaterals bounce around. Special mention has to go to the atmospheric soundtrack too.

Charming, fun and different, Thomas really should not be alone. He needs you!

Get it on PC or Mac here: http://www.thomaswasalone.com/

Anyone here played it, what did you think?

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  • 3 months later...
  • 1 month later...

This is bound to polarise opinion, but Danny Wallace is not great in this. Buying it unaware that he had any involvement with the game, before I'd spotted his name in the credits I'd found myself wondering at the choice of such an insincere, smug narrator. I'm really into experimental indie stuff with hints of pretension but this is a bit too close to being a faux-minimalist pretender for my tastes - it strikes me that Thomas Was Alone and Dear Esther are two sides of the same coin. With any luck I've articulated my point and it doesn't appear that I'm just trashing what you guys have enjoyed.

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What was up with him, and why didn't it fit/work as it was? He annoyed the shit out of me in Assassin's Creed, but it seemed fitting here and worked well describing the characters, and it's only a brief sentence here and there in each level anyway. If you're saying he's not great in this, is that implying he's great somewhere or can you just not stand him in general?

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I didn't know it was him in Assassin's Creed for a while either, on account of him looking like a burns victim. He's not my cup of tea generally, but I have no strong feelings on him either way. I dunno, the tone is a little too smooth, a little flippant. I got the impression that the game's style and tone was striving for something a bit 'warmer'. I think the right voice would have done wonders for a game essentially built around its narration - unless anyone played it for the platforming? The Stanley Parable is game narration done right. Bastion too, of course.

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I couldn't bring myself to play a game devoid of character design. It's not hideous, just empty and boring. Anyone who thinks the game wouldn't be massively improved with actual character design (not to mention proper environments) is kidding themselves. It's lazy design rationalised as minimalism.

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Bastion too, of course.

Now you mention it, a British equivalent of the Bastion type tone of voice would've been pretty damn good. Actually, not quite that but maybe Stephen Fry would've been good too. Or Hugh Laurie. But then I like both of them so maybe that'd be just me.

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I couldn't bring myself to play a game devoid of character design. It's not hideous, just empty and boring. Anyone who thinks the game wouldn't be massively improved with actual character design (not to mention proper environments) is kidding themselves. It's lazy design rationalised as minimalism.

Wouldn't it be a totally different game with those changes though? I thought the game had a lot more character than a lot I've played, even if much of the character came from the audio description of the personalities. Although saying that, the implied personalities fit perfectly with how each block handled too, so it's not like it all fell together by accident with no thought.

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  • 3 months later...

I got this through PS Plus and finished it in one sitting this evening, thought it was excellent although ever so slightly too long - I didn't find Wallace annoying either despite normally hating the guy. Has anyone bought the DLC? It's Sony exclusive apparently.

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I'm not sure how this is going to pan out yet. I just picked it up via PS Plus, and I'm enjoying it, but it's devolving a little too often to stacking tasks which are just a little too dull. I'm just being introduced to Laura, so maybe it'll not rely on that the whole way through.

I really love the 'characters' and tone and design otherwise though. It's lovely.

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Yeah, going through this on Vita and I'm finding it a lovely little distraction. I agree with Uncle Mike though, that now and again it can become a little laboursome, but on the whole it's a clever and charming little title. I personally find the story and narration one of the games most endearing features, no annoyance at all.

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I thought this was a lovely game. It's amazing what a bit of emotive music and a bit of storytelling can do, to change a game from a place-holder-art programming exercise into a full-fledged journey including a cast of characters.

Totally agree. At first sight I thought this was going to be a really low rent experience, but the soundtrack and narration give it an air of quality. I can't believe I'm actually invested in the relationship struggles of two rectangles, but I guess as clever as many of the puzzles are, that's where the game's true genius lies.

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There's a lot to like. Puzzles are cleverly designed and I don't mind the visuals at all. It just feels like work. And it often repeats the same puzzle (or it feels like it).

I got as far as getting a big square that can float on water.

I generally hate character swapping in games. I lasted about 10 minutes with The Cave because of all the faffing about.

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Picked this up on PS Plus and think it's an ace little game. Knew I recognised the voice but didn't realise it was Danny Wallace. I think he does a pretty good job, keeps it low key, and for me, it works.

Can see why people might not like it, and I'm not sure I would have paid for it after playing a demo, but as a PS+ title it's a nice little game that provides a respite from the world of hurt, pain and frustration that is Dark Souls.

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Played a load more levels out of curiosity. Did the floating square and the bouncy flat rectangle ones. Mostly really clever designs but it still felt like work. Quite a few sections involve getting up a long staircase essentially repeating the same or similar puzzle over and over.

Not sure what to think really. Some proper clever design but very little fun. None of the puzzles take long to work out or anything so it isn't satisfying in the way Braid is.

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I don't think any of it is supposed to be particularly tricky or puzzley, I'd say it's more about playing through to have the characters and story presented to you in a couple of sessions and I enjoyed the way it did that - I cared a lot more about some rectangles than I ever really did about anything in Braid, much as I enjoyed that. There's a little bit more challenge in getting some of the achievement pickups, but there's no reason to other than to see if you can.

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