Review – Thomas Was Alone (Switch)

I have always heard good things about Thomas Was Alone by Mike Bithell, the same developer behind John Wick Hex, but for some weird reason, I had never actually played it prior to tackling this Switch version. I’m going to be honest with you: at first I thought this was going to be yet another highly acclaimed indie that pushed artistic boundaries… but wasn’t exactly very fun to play, like The Witness, Gone Home, or Braid. Thankfully, I was wrong. This is actually a pretty good title that holds up not only artistically, but also gameplay-wise.

Thomas Was Alone Claire

Meet Claire. She’s big and bulky, but deep down all she wants is to be loved for who she is.

Thomas Was Alone is a well-crafted puzzle platformer in which you control a handful of different colorful rectangles, each with its own attributes such as speed, jumping height, and weight. You’re objective is to take all of them to a designated spot at the end of the level. You might have to carry a small cube on top of a larger one because the latter can float on water, or you might have to create a ladder with your available rectangles in order to make the smaller one overcome an obstacle.

It sounds simple because it is. In any other game, this would have been considered the dumbest and least interesting game of all time. “Making a dull shape go from A to B? What’s this, a game design student’s first project?” This is not the case in here. Not only are the levels well-designed, featuring thought-provoking puzzles with a gradual difficulty curve, but this game also knocks it out of the park where you would least expect it to: story-wise.

Thomas Was Alone Story

All of this philosophy and thoughtful writing in a game about rectangles. Take that, Kafka.

Believe it or not, this game is story-driven. You would also expect for the plot to be pure nonsense, something completely dumb and impossible to connect with. But somehow, Mike Bithell managed to craft a lighthearted and funny story with a somewhat somber background. None of the rectangles you’ll meet throughout the story will talk, but they all have names, attributes, and most incredibly of all, personalities.

The big blue square just wants to fit in and pretend she’s a superhero. The tall and slim yellow rectangle is easy-going and chill. The heavy orange square is grumpy as hell, but still helps out when needed. The story is narrated by BAFTA Award-winning Danny Wallace, who also voices Shaun Hastings in the Assassin’s Creed games. Wallace delivers his lines with the perfect balance of humor and believability. To top things off, the piano-heavy soundtrack is incredible, fitting perfectly with the game’s overall vibe.

Thomas Was Alone Chris

Chris is the orange one. He is kind of a douche, as you can clearly see.

I thought Thomas Was Alone was just going to be yet another pretentious indie darling, but I’m glad to know I was dead wrong. It’s not only a well-designed puzzle platformer with good controls, but also a story-driven treat for the eyes and ears, a game that will make you care about a bunch of moving rectangles, somehow. It might not be very replayable (actually, let’s double down on this: it’s devoid of replayability), but it’s still pretty fun while it lasts. No matter where you decide to play it – and believe me, there are tons of platforms to choose – this game is worth experiencing at least once.


Graphics: 7.0

It’s as simplistic as moving rectangles can be, but somehow, it still manages to be stupidly charming. It also runs at 60fps.

Gameplay: 8.5

Simple but responsive platforming controls, even if the button assignment is a bit weird. Each “playable character” has different attributes and physics, resulting in some smart puzzles.

Sound: 9.0

Top notch music and fantastic voice acting in a game about rectangles. Definitely wasn’t expecting for that.

Fun Factor: 7.5

It’s well-designed puzzle platformer with nice gimmicks, and weirdly enough, a well-crafted story about sentient rectangles. It’s a really fun experience, but it’s completely devoid of replayability.

Final Verdict: 8.0

Thomas Was Alone is available now on PS3, PS4, PS Vita, Xbox One, PC, Wii U, and Switch.

Reviewed on Switch.

A copy of Thomas Was Alone was provided by the publisher.