Sunday, September 21, 2014

Thomas Was Alone (PS Vita)

Thomas Was Alone is not a new game.

Well, "not new" in the sense of "we've-already-forgotten-this-summer's-memes-and-world-events-and-summer's-not-even-over" not new.

It started as Flash-based game in 2010, but really started building momentum as a PC and Mac title in 2010, and notoriety among a broader audience in it's content-enhanced Sony PS3 and PS Vita versions in 2013.

I hesitate to write something about the game, because I want you to experience it on your own. And I'm not going to be able to say anything that adds to it.

But I feel compelled to say something about it.

So go play it, avoid the Wikipedia spoilerific entry about it, then come back.

Good to go? Right, then.

The PS Vita version (the first time I've played it on the platform) is fantastic. Not just because the platform lends itself to this kind of game (whatever "this kind of game" is, but more on that later) -- No, it's great on the Vita because it makes subtle use of the Vita.

You can use the touchscreen to select your avatar, and skip cycling through all of it. Or, touch the icon avatars in the lower right corner, and scroll to the one you want, (when that one's not visible in the larger screen).

Simple. Clean. Appropriate )and not over-done) use of the hardware.

What about the game itself?

To say Thoms Was Alone is a "puzzle platformer" is kind of like calling Portal is a "puzzle game" or The Last of Us a "survival horror" game (I can't believe I never wrote anything about either of those, but especially that latter amazing title).

No, Thomas Was Alone is a puzzle platformer witty humanist allegory exploring the unconquerable, indomitable complexity of emotions and wants and will of the heroic and the tragic and the just existing ... us.

And yes, that's with the whole thing being presented in geometric shapes and bold colors.

Just ... play the game.

Enjoy the gameplay for what it is -- Tight, well-thought-out, consumable, replayable good design that makes you better at playing the game for having played the game.

Maybe enjoy it for it's clever wit, great musical score, and occasionally deep homilies.

Maybe be moved by something deeper being said about the human condition, and how special and flawed and amazing and petty and elevated and fallible and ever-changing we all are.

But I do recommend you play it.