Almost nine years after he first came on the scene, Thomas Was Alone is still a reference in narrative that uses as few resources as possible. If I told you that, a decade ago, a game about a red block that had more character development than a tragic hero in a Shakespeare play would have a big impact on the game industry, you would have laughed nervously, stepped back and called the nearest insane asylum.
And yet here we are. It’s 2021 and Thomas Was Alone easily stood the test of time. Mike Bithell’s hit game lives again, this time as a Switch port that developer Ant Workshop intervened in to help, add a ton of extras to the mix and create what is arguably the definitive version of Thomas Was Alone. Although in a format that stays at home on your TV or on the streets.
Narrated by Danny Wallace, Thomas’s journey is still as fascinating as ever. A platform game that is told in several chapters, Thomas jumps and jumps his way through challenging stages while gathering a cast of friends along the way that will help the adorable red block on their journey.
Each shape comes with a unique feature that makes them perfect for solving certain puzzles. One block can be used as an improvised springboard due to its inherent jump, another can float in the water and one of your other friends is extremely moody. It is these peculiarities, personalities that are revealed along the way, and how the story is told with surgical precision, that still contribute to an impressive experience.
Of course, some levels scratch your head as you figure out how to assemble the gang and take them to the exit point, properly tortuous road blocks that will make you scratch bloody pieces of your scalp while trying to figure out the right order of actions to take taken, but Thomas Was Alone never feels malicious or spiteful in building these puzzles.
Its elegant simplicity, its intriguing story and the idea of having a helping hand in the birth of artificial intelligence are still an addictive game, even if the whole journey can be completed in a few hours. Along with the Benjamin’s Flight add-on level pack – which follows Benjamin as he discovers his father’s innovative invention – and a director’s comment by Bithell, Thomas Was Alone’s Switch port is a beautiful puzzle and heart pack.