Thomas was Alone

I just played "Thomas was Alone" for PS Vita, and I am glad I did. Recently my Vita has been used for 2D platforms, but even in the currently crowded market, Thomas's elegant platform and refreshing story stand alone.

Perhaps the best reason for the game's title is the irony of it, as Thomas does not remain alone for long. Throughout the game Thomas, a little red rectangle, meets other four sided geometric shapes, each with a new facet to add to the gameplay. From large blue squares to skinny pink rectangles, each new 'character' exhibits a unique world view (expressed through an omnipresent narrator's observations) and their own specific powers and handicaps. Laura, the aforementioned skinny pink rectangle, allows other shapes to jump on her like a trampoline. In turn, Laura feels she is always being used. The unique personalities lead many, including myself, to really enjoy the new characters themselves over the main storyline.

The story itself is inoffensive and un-extraordinary, lacking the depth and purpose needed to outshine the cast of characters. It is a story of AI becoming self-aware, but that is only conveyed through a quote before each stage (which consists of 10 levels each).  In the end it seems the arch is ultimately a means to end the game, which is perfectly acceptable. Speaking more to the games overall quality, I could not put my Vita down. The game is easy enough to grasp in seconds, yet so complex in its systems that by the end of the game you feel as if you have just barely gotten a grasp on them.

The real challenge to the game is not traversing the world, but it is deciding what you will be listening to while doing so. The soundtrack itself is inspired, playing some of the best pseudo electronic music in gaming, comparable soundtracks being Super Hexagon, Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon. It is also very reminiscent of many a Mega Man soundtrack. The second option, as previously mentioned, is the narration of UK based humorist Danny Wallace. He does a spectacular job of emphasizing the parts which matter and, those which do not, he makes flippant and sarcastic. This may seem off putting, but it is done so subtly that overall it demonstrates what is functionally important about each character. Sure, one of them may be jealous from time to time, but it is that same character's drive to discover more that really defines him. While the previous two options could conceivably be listened to simultaneously (although I recommend separately), the third option needs to stand on its own. My favorite audio option is the commentary, in which game creator Mike Bithell talks about his experience with the game. This really gives the player insight into not just this game but indie development in general. From level design to Q&A, Mike walks you through the decisions he made and why he made them, and I would personally buy this commentary for the price of the game itself.

Thomas was Alone is a fantastic game for the price tag of $10. The world is intriguing, the gameplay satisfying, and the visuals imaginative. Mike Bithell obviously put a lot of time and effort into making such a great product and the messages of friendship and family shine through.   The game is perfect on the go, which is why it has a slight edge on the Vita, but Vita or not, this is one game you will want to experience.