Game Review: Thomas Was Alone

by @edent | #

I’m about a billion years late to this review. But that’s OK, sometimes it is nice to wait until all the bugs have been squashed and all the walkthroughs written up.

TWA is a lovely little puzzler. Move blocks around until they fit in the right holes. It is the sort of game which could have been written for the ZX81 back in the day.

I played it with the Director’s Commentary switched on. How weird that we now have games designers doing that! It was a lovely experience. Mike Bithell gives a masterclass in game design, level layout, and storytelling. His soothing tones are the perfect accompaniment to a relaxing game. It is (mostly) spoiler-free and really helped me appreciate what he was trying to do.

There is, of course, a downside. The story is… well, there is no story. There’s some exposition narrated by Danny Wallace – but it is meaningless to how the game progresses. And it’s hard to hear/read while the commentary is on. That leads to the Director waxing lyrical about how he really wanted to convey an emotion with the way the characters interact, and how they have epic story arcs. They don’t. Sorry. They are blocks moving left and right. But humans will anthropomorphise anything.

There are a couple of levels which are just annoying. Most levels are very forgiving if you don’t get your timings pixel perfect. But a couple made me want to rage-quit. It would greatly help the game if after, say, 10 minutes it popped up saying “Skip this level? Y/N”

The controls are a little finicky. Sometimes jumps just failed to register or didn’t respond quite quickly enough. That may have been the latency of PS Now’s cloud though.

The game was “free” on PlayStation Now. It’ll take you a few hours to complete and is a delight.

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