Game Reviews

Thomas Was Alone

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| Thomas Was Alone
Thomas Was Alone
| Thomas Was Alone

*Spoiler alert: The name of this game doesn't really make much sense.*

That's because for about 99 percent of the game, Thomas is most definitely NOT alone.

Unfortunately, this nomenclature 'oversight' isn't the only one on the part of this game's developer.

Despite Thomas Was Alone's inherent loveliness, you see, the simplistic nature of its puzzles can't be ignored. And won't be.

Alone, until you pay it back

You control a rectangle on a quest to jump over coloured shapes and traverse abstract environments. In each level, your objective is to find a way to reach the exit. But Thomas the rectangle can very rarely do this alone.

Alongside Thomas, there are a number of other shapes with names. Some are short and not very nimble, while others are flat and bouncy. By switching between the different blocks and stacking them on top of one another, you can create pathways for each shape to reach its designated exit.

Thomas Was Alone is hugely stylish, with sharp visuals and suitably atmospheric music (quite the feat given that it's essentially a block world filled with abstract shapes).

But it's the narration that ironically gives Thomas its 'voice'. The story is told by British comedian Danny Wallace, who fills you in on precisely what the blocks are pondering and what they think of the others.

You'll be taken aback at just how much a simple voice-driven storyline can make you care so much about a set of shapes. In terms of video game storytelling, you'll have never experienced anything like this before.

What a Wallace

What the game lacks, however, is a series of challenging and engaging puzzles to back the story up.

Thomas Was Alone is always extremely straightforward, and I never once experienced a 'wow' moment that many recent indie games have given me.

You can whittle the majority of puzzles here down to 'stack the blocks in a staircase fashion to enable the shorter blocks to climb up and get the rest of them to follow'. Later on, there's a little more variation, but your breath is never exactly taken away.


Part of this is because there is rarely any urgency to your actions. In a couple of levels, the game designers do throw down some challenging gauntlets, with moving walls and spikes and the sort, but you're left thinking, "I wish the rest of the game was like that."

On top of this, the Vita version has a slight quirk which isn't present in the PC version. It seems like someone has accidentally drowned the narration out by turning the volume up on the music.

It's easily fixable - you jump into the 'options' menu and turn everything bar the voice acting down - but it does make you wonder whether the people porting the game to Vita even realised what the main pull of the title is.

Thomas Was Alone is worth experiencing for the story and the narration alone. Those going into it looking for solid gameplay to back the storyline up, though, may find themselves disappointed.

Thomas Was Alone

If you're looking for some meaningful storytelling in a video game, you will love Thomas Was Alone. If you're after a challenge, though, best to steer clear
Mike Rose
Mike Rose
An expert in the indie games scene, Mike comes to Pocket Gamer as our handheld gaming correspondent. He is the author of 250 Indie Games You Must Play.