Recommendation: Thomas Was Alone
Windows | Mac | Linux | iOS | Android | PS3 | PS Vita
Bare bone visuals hide many beautiful moments in Thomas Was Alone, a 2010 puzzle-platforming game that de-emphasizes flash and mechanical complexity in favor of an earnest, well-told story. The gameplay basics are simple and easy to learn, just moving left and right and jumping. Like a Mario game without the pressure of time limits or enemy characters.
You play as a rectangle, Thomas, and then as a group of differently-shaped rectangles, each with their own deeply-sketched character and history. It's a strange pitch, asking the audience to invest in primitive shapes, but the story is told well through well-acted voiceover and tricks of good presentation help sell the story without adding unnecessary complexity
Reasons You Might Like This
Thomas Was Alone features simple and familiar platforming controls. The puzzles in the game are light and well-paced, allowing you to push the story forward while still presenting an enjoyable light challenge. The entire experience is only two or three hours long, wrapping up its story nicely without overstaying its welcome in the slightest.
The fantastic music and voiceover work keep you constantly engaged and appreciating the atmosphere and narrative. Surprisingly polished but still spare and simple, Thomas Was Alone is a classic course in how a resourceful solo developer can punch above their weight and deliver a solid experience.
Reasons You Might Not Like This
It's possible that one could bounce off the story entirely, as caring about a bunch of quadrangles is an admittedly strange proposition. And though there is quite a lot of character development, I would say that the story doesn't resolve in a very satisfying way. But those are small niggles for what is a very digestible and interesting experience.
Others may have initial problems with platforming controls, but this game actually serves as a perfect introduction to the genre with a gentle learning environment that focuses more on puzzles and story than action.