Thomas Was Alone review
We all have fears and obstacles we can't conquer by ourselves. We're fragile, vulnerable beings who sometimes need a helping hand to get through the day. We're creatures of habit, creatures who want to be left alone at times and desperately need companionship others. Thomas Was Alone is a story that looks at all of these tropes of human nature, and it expresses them. This is a story that makes you look at yourself and the vulnerabilities inside of you while telling an incredible tale of companionship, friendship, and self-exploration.
You start off as the titular Thomas, a lone red rectangle stuck in a not-so-complex space with walls and roadblocks that aren't all that difficult to get through. Soon, however, Thomas encounters an orange square named Chris. This stocky little guy is a bit unpleasant, and his cynical demeanor doesn't make him all that likable. But it's his vulnerabilities — his inability to jump high and his slow movement — that make him easy to relate to, because we all have weaknesses. The weaknesses within Chris make him rely on Thomas, and as levels get more complex and more difficult, the weaknesses within Thomas make him rely on Chris.
The duo then encounter other rectangles, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Claire, for example, is a large blue square and the only one who can float on water. Because of this, she feels the need to help the rest of the gang. She feels like she's a superhero, and she may very well be ... at least in her own mind. But even with this offbeat delusion, Claire is definitely heroic, and she helps out every single time that an opportunity to do so is presented to her. Then there's John, the tall, lanky fellow who can jump incredibly high and isn't afraid to brag about it. But even when he's being a cocky rectangle, he's always willing to flip a hard-to-reach switch to help open a new path for his comrades. He's that guy — the confident egomaniac who still means well and is always there for his pals.
These are just a few of the characters and personalities that Thomas Was Alone follows, but there are many, many more, each with their own stories to tell, strengths to utilize, and weaknesses to make them stronger (because that's exactly what your weakness do). The story of Thomas quickly becomes the story of Chris, Claire, John, Grey, Paul, and the rest of the cast in this tale about fears, perseverance, and triumph. And to top it all off, the entire story — every single level — features remarkable and uplifting voiced narration that's a sheer joy to listen to.
But Thomas Was Alone isn't just a story; it's also a video game, and an excellent one at that. The puzzle platforming that builds the gameplay foundation for this story is slick, challenging, and rewarding. To call it enjoyable would be an understatement. The gameplay in Thomas Was Alone is triumphant. Every new challenge and its respective solution; every fiendish level layout and the characters forced to conquer it; every imposing hazard and the required teamwork to clear it — there's brilliant, shining triumph in everything that Thomas Was Alone has you set out to accomplish. And when you finally figure out that solution, when you realize how to solve a puzzle, and when you see exactly the type of challenge the game is throwing your way, you can't help but feel the utmost satisfaction, with yourself and with the game's characters.
The visual look of Thomas Was Alone is pleasingly minimalistic. Like an abstract painting, shapes are used to represent beings, obstacles, and problems. Throw in some beautiful bold backgrounds and foregrounds, and you've got a magnificent and elegant aesthetic masterpiece. The soundtrack in Thomas Was Alone is also a shining example of the care put into this game. From start to finish, you're treated to a moving harmony of sound. Composer David Housden may have created the most riveting video game soundtrack of the year.
To be fair, there are a few things in Thomas Was Alone that are gripe-worthy. For starters, the controls can be a bit finicky at times. Additionally, some folks may not be too happy about the lack of native controller support. A few minor hitches such as characters getting stuck on moving platforms and occasional sound glitches are also present. Honestly, though, it's easy to overlook these issues when you get that rewarding feeling of satisfaction whenever you clear a stage, and as you draw closer and closer to the game's end.
Thomas Was Alone is a story about relationships. It's a story about trusting others and helping others out when you can do something they can't. It's a story about judging others before you even know them, and then realizing you were wrong about them. It's a story about infatuation and affection. It's a story about having fears and conquering them. In a nutshell, Thomas Was Alone is a story about not being alone, and having the comfort of knowing that there are others in your life willing to help you out, willing to let you help them, and just being there because that's what matters.
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