GAME NAME: Thomas Was Alone
DEVELOPER(S): Curve Studios/Mike Bithell
PUBLISHER(S): Curve Digital
PLATFORM(S): Nintendo Wii U
RELEASE DATE(S): November 25th, 2014
Curve Digital has done some of the best work that I’ve seen from any indie publisher on the Wii U. They are the closest thing you can get to a AAA publisher on the indie scene, secure such hits as Lone Survivor, Stealth Inc, The Swapper and now from Mike Bithell, Thomas Was Alone. Right before I started this review it was also announced that they would be bringing Olli Olli over to Nintendo’s home console as well, just another sign of their dedication to the platform.
I wasn’t sure what to expect of Thomas Was Alone when I first received it. I looked at a few screen shots and didn’t quite get what the concept might be. After having the chance to sit down and jump into the world though, it is quite a fantastic journey. I have to be careful not to call this title a puzzle game, because even though their are puzzle elements, at it’s heart is a platforming experience.
You start off as a block named Thomas and well, you are alone. But all this changes as you meet fellow companions Chris, Claire or other blocks that are defined by being a different shape and color. These other blocks also have special abilities such as the ability to float or defy gravity that makes the platforming have an added level of difficulty. The narrative is told from the perspective of Thomas and is voiced over by Danny Wallace who does a wonderful job. The story is simple but elegant and actually quite engaging considering the heroes are just different shaped rectangles.
Gamers gain control of the one of the 15 different playable characters using the left analog stick. Either A or B will allow you to jump and L and R are used for cycling between the heroes and heroines. You can also use the touch screen to select the character by simply tapping on the color square in the bottom right. Thomas was Alone can be played completely on screen or exclusively off screen.
The main objective in each of the game’s 150 levels is to navigate through the level by using the blocks abilities and characteristics to overcome obstacles and position them over their corresponding white silhouette. This works extremely well in how the levels have been constructed. They are designed for play sessions that only last in few minute burst but at the same time you feel like you are accomplishing something, which is what keeps you coming back for more. I was disappointed that there wasn’t a co-op mode where friends could help you by playing as the other blocks. While this doesn’t break the game, it would have been a really cool option.
Graphically, Thomas Was Alone takes a very simplistic approach but that’s what makes the game feel like it has it’s own style. The physics are spot on with the water and anti gravity and I feel that the dark and blocky art style actual gives this title a unique feel. The Soundtrack by David Housden is very well done and accompanies the gameplay perfectly. Again, the voice acting job by Danny Wallace is wonderful and the narration keeps the pace of the levels flowing.
I know this game has been out a while, but if you haven’t had a chance to play it on a different platform, then this is a great time to pickup and play Thomas Was Alone. It’s a great platformer that manages to stand out even with the stiff competition from the genre on Nintendo’s Wii U. It blends together a simple yet elegant story with a unique style and excellent platforming puzzles. Plus it will look great in your Curve Digital folder on your Wii U menu.