Sometimes the simpler the premise of a game, the more vast and expansive it can be made for the player. This is the case for the 2012 indie puzzle game “Thomas Was Alone.” The foundation of the game is about as simple as it gets; you play as a block and the aim is to go through the ‘door.’ The game is simple and minimalistic but it rises above the sum of its parts.
You begin as an orange rectangular block, called Thomas. The controls are very simple in that you just use arrow buttons to move and jump, with no worries of fall damage. Anytime you die, your character is reset at the start of the level or at your latest checkpoint. Not long after learning the ropes of the game, you’re introduced to new blocks, all with different skill sets. For example, Chris is a short block that can’t jump very high, but can fit into smaller spaces. Claire is large square block which can float in the water that every other block will sink in. Each skillset is necessary to move through the level and you must switch between blocks in order to get through their respective doors.
What makes this game truly unique is the personification of the blocks by the narrator. The narration is voiced by Danny Wallace, who you may know as the voice of Shaun Hastings from Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed franchise. Wallace won a “Performance” category British Academy Video Game Award for his role, where the game itself was nominated for the “Story” category. You may wonder how a game based completely on rectangular blocks could be nominated for having the best story, and that’s what really draws you into the world of “Thomas Was Alone.”
The narration is humorous and distinctive in that it gives each block a developed personality, features and thoughts. Relationships and motivations develop between these characters. The narration is reminiscent of another indie game, “The Stanley Parable.” Every level may have two or three portions of dialogue triggered by reaching a certain point. The snippets are always so entertaining that I stop mid-level just so that I don’t miss any part. It can get annoying if you move on too quickly or die in the same spot multiple times, the dialogue may get skipped or continuously repeated.
“Thomas Was Alone” is selling on Steam for $9.99 but you may find it in Steam sales or Humble Bundles for cheaper like I did. It includes over 10 playable characters, 100 levels and 35 achievements that are not that difficult to obtain. The story is engaging and helped along with the narration of a personal favorite voice actor. It is definitely a light and funny game that is for any type of gamer and will not take up a large amount of space on your computer. “Thomas Was Alone” is good for your five to 10 minute study break increments, or to immerse yourself in for an hour. I would recommend it and give it an 8/10.