Monday, July 14, 2014

Second Impressions: Thomas Was Alone (PC)

I probably should not have used the "Second Impressions" in my last post and I didn't actually mean to use it as that was a title for another post I was writing when I accidentally "published" the article before I realized that I hadn't changed the title yet.  Dr. Potts and I had talked about doing articles titled "Second Impressions" when one of us writes an article about a game that the other had already played/written about.  Now that that's out of the way:

I pretty much concur nearly everything that Dr. Potts talked about last year is his First Impressions of Thomas Was Alone, so there is not a whole lot that I can expand upon.  So, why then write another article about a two year old game that has already been written about and not just by us, but by 250+ other sites?  Because the simplicity of the game, the beautifulness of the soundtrack,  the writing of the characters and the delivery of the narration cannot be stated enough.  Which is why that I am stating it here.  Again.

I just finished the main storyline and I honestly sat slack-jawed upon the end of the story with characters that I had spent the last five hours getting to know.  Although that is a bit of an overstatement as various characters are introduced throughout the entire game and not all are playable in every level.

Yes, the game is simple and it could have very well been created for the Atari 2600 or even the Intellivision without narration.  The narration could have been included in the instruction manual, to be read when you reach the appropriate level.  But really, the narration voiced by British comedian Danny Wallace was able to install emotion and character depth to otherwise two dimensional polygon .  For a short time, both Conklederp and I considered that the narrator could have been Martin Freeman and even after finding out that it was not, I still have Martin Freeman in my head.

The music, the music, the music.  The music was composed by David Housden.  Even Conklederp commented on how soothing and relaxing the music is, considering it is background to colorful rectangles jumping on and off each other.  I was pleasantly surprised that the soundtrack was included with the Humble Indie Bundle that it was um, bundled with last year, otherwise there was a good chance that I would have mosied over to Mr. Housden's bandcamp page and purchased the thing for the measly sum of £3.99, or $6.83.  With the exception of track five "Divided We Fall," all the tracks are very mellow and simple, yet emotionally moving with the characters in-game.

Based on Dr. Potts' review, it sounds like he used a controller to play the game where as I ended up just using the keyboard.  Now, I am not one to normally use a keyboard when playing a platformer as the controls just do not feel as intuitive and I often feel clumsy (Super Meat Boy, FEZ, Deadlight).  For whatever reason, I decided that I was able to manipulate the characters well enough with the WASD to move and Spacebar to jump.  The game was not about dexterity, but about puzzle solving at your own pace.  I like that I did not feel rushed and only one time did I feel frustrated, but that was on a later level when I had to cycle through characters trying to select the one or two I wanted to alternatingly move after I already had everyone else in position.  That was on me.

As previously stated, I just finished Thomas Was Alone no more than 30 minutes ago and I just found out that there was a free DLC called "Benjamin's Flight" that is accessible by going to the stage select option and selecting 10.1.  I think I will give the DLC a go after I have some time to process the entirety of the main game, so look forward to that post in the coming weeks.

I'd Like To Leave The World As A Better Place

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