It’s nigh on impossible to keep up with all the stuff that’s “worth playing” these days, with a seemingly endless stream of quality titles being released for the Xbox, PS3, Vita et al.
One game that passed me by last year was the award-winning Thomas Was Alone, but it pleases me to say that it’s now available on ye olde iPad. If you haven’t played it yet, the question is: WHY NOT, YOU MANIAC?
The gamers among you will at least have heard of Thomas Was Alone – if not played it. What we’re dealing with is an indie platform puzzler with a cast of newly self-aware AIs, represented by quadrilaterals.
That mightn’t sound hugely interesting or unique, but Thomas Was Alone is surprisingly emotive, and only went and picked up a bloomin’ BAFTA for Danny Wallace’s narration.
See, each of Thomas Was Alone’s quadrilaterals has a unique personality; not some half-baked “He’s the hero” or “He’s the silly one” or “She’s the feisty one”, but full-on personalities.
Loneliness, friendship, love, jealousy, paranoia, narcissism, guilt… they’re all explored. Yes, in a game about jumping – sorry, “reverse falling” – quadrilaterals.
Each character has its own unique abilities, too, including John, who loves showing off how high he can jump – much to the chagrin of the cynical and largely unremarkable Chris.
There’s also Claire, the superhero square, who can float in water, and Newton-defying James, who suffers from reverse gravity.
Spanning 100 levels, the goal in each is essentially to get the characters to their respective finishing locations, with teamwork being the name of the proverbial game.
And that’s Thomas Was Alone in a very concise nutshell. I’m obliged to detail both the Pros and Cons; I reckon I’ll start with the latter and end on a high note.
The touch controls are – for the most part – spot on, though I occasionally found myself jumping when what I really wanted to do was change character. That’s particularly irksome if you happen to jump to your death.
The difficulty curve can be quite erratic, too, with Level 5.7 (just over half way through) proving to be an especially memorable nightmare. That was partly due to the touch controls, and partly due to the inability to move the screen around and plan ahead.
It’s also occasionally necessary to restart from the beginning of a level, rendering the notion of a “checkpoint” moot.
But putting those minor gripes aside, Thomas Was Alone is easily one of the best games available for the iPad, and well worth the £5.99 entry fee. I genuinely found myself missing some of the characters on levels where they were absent.
Again, Danny Wallace’s narration is fantastic, and it’s complemented wonderfully by David Housden’s soundtrack, which made me want to whip out my guitar and play delayed/distorted high notes ad nauseam. Amazing stuff.
All in all, Thomas Was Alone is far better than it ought to be. It’s a game about jumping shapes that will likely have you on the verge of tears.
- Danny Wallace’s narration
- David Housden’s soundtrack
- The unique personalities
- Occasionally irksome controls
- The checkpoint thing
- Level 5.7
Summary: Thomas Was Alone is an indie gaming triumph, proving that memorable, moving and thoroughly enjoyable games don’t need to have a blockbuster budget.
Developer: Bossa Studios
Price: £5.99 @ App Store
Compatibility: Requires iOS 6.0 or later. Compatible with iPad.