Platforming is one of the oldest video game genres and has permeated throughout the ages and is present in many games as recent and prominent such as the Uncharted series. Thomas Was Alone is a minimally designed game purely based on platforming released on PC in 2010 but was further refined and re-released in 2012.
The story follows a cast of ‘programs’ depicted by differently sized and coloured squares and rectangles conveying their perceptions of the world, their own existences and each other. Thomas, the nominal character, is new to existence and exhibits a natural curiosity and friendly personality and is the first of many charming characters introduced such as Chris, a small, grumpy square and Laura, an insecure rectangle. These personalities are well written and establish a connection, encouraging players to see Thomas and friends safely through the levels and away from the dark, ominous presence that follows them.
The gameplay is unsurprisingly simple with controls only to move and jump. Each of the different characters have quirks about them that have to be utilized in combination with the others in order to finish each level for example, one square is able to survive and stay afloat in water allowing her to act as a ferry for the others. While the games have classic platforming elements such as buttons, moving platforms and even pointy moving platforms, the level designs are all interesting and unique, utilizing and making the most of every ability and interesting elements like anti-gravity. The difficulty curve is nothing too punishing but does steadily increase throughout the game. Thomas Was Alone’s overall aesthetic is very minimalistic, the dark and bland tones doing well to emphasize the vibrant characters, coupled with a soothing soundtrack.
For a game solely based on a bunch of coloured shapes jumping around, it’s an engaging and well-designed game which will have you smiling more often than not.