Thomas Was Alone is an independently made puzzle-platformer created by Mike Bithell. TWA is hard to write about, for the simple fact of how different the game becomes through it’s course, but there are some things that are fairly easy to mention without talking about major plot points and specific levels. So here we go; Thomas Was Alone, a puzzle game that will have you actually invested with the game.
The story behind TWA takes place in a computer mainframe where the AI develops their own personalities and seek out escape from their digital confines. There is no actual main character, even though thomas is the only one mentioned in the title, but there are seven colored polygons who you control as they develop their personalities. One of the games this reminds me of is portal 2 in that the story is good and the puzzles are ok but combined they work together to make a really good game. It’s only problem, is in it’s puzzles. The puzzles start out rather slow and monotonous, very slowly building on the levels before. They act like a train and just like a train, it starts to pick up speed and becomes actually pretty fun and difficult. That does get in the way of the story, though, when you die and restart the level and have to listen to the dialogue a second,third, or eighth time. The game does stay interesting, and there were very few times where i got tired of hearing the story that torturous ninth time. But maybe that’s because I’m bad at platformers, who knows.
The level design is fairly monotonous and nothing special. Mostly black platforms and grey water that kills you when you touch it. They could have easily added some kind of design or background to make it more interesting to look at. This wouldn’t have been that big of an issue, but when you are playing the game for a long period of time, the levels begin to blend together and you have trouble knowing how much you have actually done. The design, in my opinion, actually brought down the quality of the game for me but it made sense to the games “simple” nature.
The music was nice and airy, occasionally turning to more sour tones, is really good and is not hard to listen to. That is, until you begin to progress farther into the game and hear the songs over and over again. The music is a great way to break the monotony, but only until it becomes monotonous as well.
The narration is to this game as GlaDos was to portal, a great addition and a greater contribution to the game’s success. This narrator never gets tiring and has actually won a BAFTA for this amazing performance. He was really the only part I didn’t mind hearing the thousand times I was replaying levels. He adds a new light to the story, and presents it that makes it a much more entertaining of a story.
The game can only be easily described as simple. The game’s story was simple, but it pulled me in somehow and made me actually care about a set of polygons trying to redesign their universe.
A special thanks to Stu/StealthStickman for the game.