Saturday, March 23, 2013

First Impressions: Thomas was Alone

In one sentence, my first impression of Thomas was Alone: 

"What if Winnie the Pooh author A.A. Milne had raised his son Christopher Robin playing on an early 1980s computer instead of wandering their country home in East Sussex?"  

Thanks to Destructoid for this image.

Thomas was Alone is adorable, to say the least.  The soundtrack is lush.  The narrator is entertaining.  And the graphics are simply beautiful.  

I have an affection for minimalist game design, as my love of games like VVVVVV, Proteus and even Angry Birds can attest.  Thomas was Alone is fantastically minimalist and yet contains plenty of heart.  The main characters are a series of rectangles, each with slightly different abilities; helping them to work together to overcome obstacles, solve puzzles and complete levels.  The controls are a very basic: left, right, jump and switch character.  Each level is accompanied by a narrator, describing the inner monologues of the characters involved.

This narration does a lot to drive the action forward.  I played through to level 3.6 on my first play, and had to make a conscious effort to put the controller down.  The narrative, graphics and game mechanics are all tied together, as the different quadrangles' personalities are informed by their shape and their abilities.  At this point in the game, I'm particularly fond of Chris and Thomas' relationship; as Chris is frequently dependent on Thomas to get around, and that flies in the face of his general bitterness and resentment.  Adorable.  

Other Notes:  
I originally thought that the soundtrack was a little overbearing, but that subsided after passing the initial practice stages.  Also, turning the BGM down to 0.9 volume.  Now I think it is perfect. 

The gameplay is straightforward platforming.  The only issue I ran into was switching between characters, but I will easily resolve that issue with practice, and by reprogramming my controller.  

I'm already full of goofy ideas to improve this game - which is how you know I really love it.  Multiplayer option and level editor for starters.  Great for a sequel or expansion... =D

In honor of Jaconian's Birthday, Thomas was Alone, Proteus and a whole slew of indie games are on sale at Steam.  If you're a Steam user, you probably already know this, but if not, this may be a good week to become one.  Sale Ends 3/29.  


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