Thomas was alone was developed by solo developer Mike Bithell, and published by Curve digital. Its a single player puzzle platform game which has been released since November 2012 but came to my attention when it joined the Gamepass collection.
Thomas was alone is set in a computer mainframe, where an unspecified event has caused several A.I routines to run out of control & gain personalities, they perceive their new found world as a 2D space and they themselves are represented as quadrilateral shapes. Each shape is characterised by a unique name, colour, size and shape.
The lead character Thomas who is a red rectangle believes that there is more to life, he wants to explore, he wants to know more about his new found world. On his journey you note he has limited abilities, he like all the characters can move left & right, and jump up & down, this movement can be limited by their size and shapes. Each has a special ability; floating on water, inverted jumping or simply being able to jump higher than the others. As the additional players are unlocked you note very quickly that each of their independent skills are intertwined, and if they wish to succeed they must work together to reach the end goal.
The goal is to move the shapes to a designated area designed only for them, when this is achieved they will all simultaneously exit.
You soon learn to admire each of the rectangles limitations, & ensure that they all work together to achieve their target. If a shape cannot jump to an out of reach platform, then create a staircase, if a body of water blocks your path use the floating shape as a boat.
The game is composed of 12 levels & each level has 10 stages, all are relatively easy to complete. As you progress to each new stage a new character is added, & a new element to the puzzle is implemented.
There is no speech among the characters, the story, emotions, & thoughts are expressed brilliantly by the narration that can be heard throughout the game. The script used for this tale is comical and lighthearted, but is written in such a way that it builds empathy towards the protagonists, and you do feel for the plight of the rectangles as they aim to travel up, up and to the right. The soundtrack is simple and piano music plays in the background allowing you to concentrate on the game play unfolding in front of you.
Controls are simple and easy to pick up. The tasks to complete each stage are relatively simple & the button mapping does reflect this. My only gripe was having to scroll though the whole team of shapes to find the one I needed, as you may only control one shape at a time.
Graphically it's a bunch of colourful quadrilaterals jumping through a simple and uninspiring landscape. The colours used make each character stand out and they are easily identifiable from one another. Like the sound track the developer has allowed its narrator and game play to take center stage, the game concept does not need the graphics to blow you away.
Achievement hunters this game is extremely easy to be awarded the full 1000 gamerscore, and this can be achieved in approximately 4 hours. Though you may be unfortunate as I was and receive several glitches and have to complete the game several times before they all unlock.
A lighthearted affair with a melancholy twist that grips the player almost instantly. The implementation of new characters regularly adds a layer of difficulty which is warmly welcomed. The narration makes this game a joy to return to, & the quirky nature of each of the shapes drives you to help them succeed. As a puzzle game its not overly difficult, but the length of the game ensures that you do not get bored.
The option to replay the game is limited, but if you do find yourself wanting to sit through the tale again you will still find the story line amusing, & Thomas and the gang as refreshing as the first time you played through.