Game Pile: Thomas Was Alone

Buy it buy it buy it buy it buy it buy it buy it buy it.

Alright, in case you needed more information: Thomas Was Alone is a smart, funny, endearing story that uses the constraints of videogame development as part of the narrative. In the same way Assassin’s Creed used the animus as a story element that explained the videogame elements in the experience, Thomas Was Alone creates a story about videogame elements. It’s the simplest form of puzzle platformer you will ever see – I cannot imagine a more minimalist take on a game’s elements outside of being monochrome – and its storytelling elements are almost all a matter of a narrator expositing a character’s feelings and thoughts. It’s also not particularly difficult – I found no point the game held me up in order to make me pass a ridiculous skill gate.

The real thing that makes this game so remarkable is the way its characterisation shines through. There are about seven characters (or are there?) in this story, and all seven of them have distinct, interesting, humanised personalities based on the experience of the world they live in and their interaction with one another. Any time someone wants to tell me that characterisation is hard, I think I need to beat them around the head with this game. The game’s super-simple mechanics still created avenues for the storytelling to examin the way the characters behaved – with particular reference to Sarah and Laura.

It’s three hours out of your life, it’s fantastic, atmospheric, and sweet, and costs less than a movie ticket.