Review: Thomas Was Alone

Gaming, as you might have noticed, is undergoing something of a transformation. As an antidote to the big budget games, things are getting simpler and, dare I say it, back to basics. That's why Sony is so into its indies I guess, especially with so few big-name-games coming to the Vita.

Few of these titles look as primitive as Thomas Was Alone. Yet, when you see it moving in all its hi-res glory, with the comic book shadows and little background touches, with a placid soundtrack, it is rather appealing.

The gameplay too is simple, yet mildly fiendish. Thomas isn't alone for long and he and his fellow shapes must use their varying size, bounce-ability and other properties to work together to get through the big leaps, narrow gaps and across obstacles. Team work is the order of the day, with the shoulder buttons tabbing between your blocky chums.

Each section has a little intro, suggesting some AI experiment gone awry, and each level a little narration, provided by Danny Wallace (I was thinking Danny John Jules for some reason, but DW does a fine job of not being Stephen Fry). This gives the shapes a little personality and some frisson while adding a definite British charm and calm, which comes as a relief after the recent Latin-American overdose of Guacamelee and the poultry-laced insanity of Rocketbirds.

Along the way you have to watch out for Tiny squares that trigger trophy rewards (that bit is a lot easier on the PS3), with cloud saving allowing you to switch between the two formats. If you can't see an obvious solution move the right stick around to view the level and you'll likely find something you missed.

Offering a reasoned challenge, without having you screaming at the Vita or throwing it out the window, Thomas Was Alone is a charming puzzler that sticks to its core ambitions rigidly, so don't expect radical variations later on in the game. Enjoy it for what it is (a clever idea expressed in a minimalist manner) and you have a good few hours gaming to conquer. 

Price: £5.99 (PSN), free on PS+
Score: 7/10
Progress: Complete
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