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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Thomas Was Alone PC Review - 9.8/10

Is it possible to make a perfect game? Logic tells me this is impossible. But my inner child, my gamer, looks to the future with a brightly lit sense of self esteem. Often I see games take the route most run (aka using amazing graphics and little else). While amazing graphics aren't bad, as I've said before, they do little to heighten the game. I predict Watch Dogs will be one of the most amazing games to come out this year. But what to say of the story? Or the characters? Sure the gameplay will be the most unique I've ever seen, especially in a triple A title, but in the end it's the story, the ending and the characters that really make me remember a game. This game comes as close to perfection as I've seen yet.

The Good:
'Thomas... was alone.' These first three words spoken in the game set the whole piece out. You start off by looking at Thomas, who is a red rectangle. He is not our main character, but one of a few others. You won't hear much in the game other than a bit of music and a lone man (voiced by Danny Wallace who I think was the best choice for a narrator). With his British accent and the writing given to him, Mr. Wallace does an amazing job of replicating human feelings and attitudes when all we see are colors and shapes. The characters are well played out. Thomas is an observant sort who is afraid of being left alone. John is a slender, taller rectangle than Thomas, can jump higher and is proud of said fact. Claire is a large blue rectangle, depressed until she finds out she can do something the others can't and vows to be a superhero. It may seem weird, but all these characters (including more) did more for me than any triple A game ever did. Writing is somewhat of a lost art in gaming. If the writing is bad, who cares as long as the gameplay is good. If the gameplay sucks but the writing is amazing, it's unplayable. Its how I find myself when I'm playing The Old Republic: I play it just to see how every story plays out.
Do you like puzzles? Well there's puzzles galore! You've got simple puzzles, complicated puzzles and all in between. I personally don't like puzzles. I find them irritating because they're usually there simple to pad out a game. When it's puzzle-centric, I find it difficult because I play games to unwind rather than a brain teaser. However, the puzzles here are helped along very simply. Claire can jump in water without being killed as well as carry others across it, however, she can only jump so high. Thomas can jump fairly far and high as well as has a smaller frame, which makes him able to slide through certain areas. John is the best jumper and can jump large clearings, however, he is far too tall for certain situations. By a simple 'Q' or 'E' button press, I can switch between either of them at any given time to get them to their goal. With a simple waiting, patience and observation just about any puzzle can be overcome. Simply put, each character has a specific ability and its easy to see what and remember when puzzles get trickier.
The overall tone is very nice. Wallace does an excellent job of narrating as I've said, and the writing coupled with him and the visuals really lay out how things are going. When something is ominous, Wallace's voice changes moods to show that. The music takes a darker turn and the writing reflects how things are going. The story does get a bit ominous and it really takes this lighthearted game with a splash of dry humor nicely, showing more depths than just having geometrical shapes in peril (such words will never be spoken again I assure you).

The Bad:
This is most definitely a puzzle game. Don't like puzzles like me? Then you'll have the same experience I have with The Old Republic. Sure there's always Youtube, but that just feels like cheating to me.

Perfect? No. Amazing experience I won't soon forget? Most definitely. I want to see more games like this. Put the writing first and craft an exceptional gameplay to compliment it. Games like Grand Theft Auto or Saints Row don't have much in writing, but they sure are a joy to play. Work on the atmosphere to make it mirror the game's themes and you've got a good game. What we as gamers want most is to be enthralled. Whenever someone belittles me for playing games, I use this argument: "I play video games because I am disconnected from this world. With all the horrible things going on, the only escape I have is into my own mind. Within a video game I can be the hero, the villain, the protagonist or even just a simple person. I've fought countless fiends, traversed vast plains, rescued prince and princess alike, gained god-like powers and saved the world and reality more times than I can count. You have only one world. I have a billion, and a billion more roles to fill."

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