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'Thomas Was Alone' is the iPad's most charming game

'Thomas Was Alone' is the iPad's most charming game


Get ready to fall in love with some blocks

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You've probably never felt an emotional connection to simple geometric shapes before, but that will change when you play Thomas Was Alone. What at first appears to be little more than a simple platform game, where you control plain-looking squares and rectangles, turns into a surprisingly touching tale of friendship and loneliness — and it's a story told entirely through narration.

The basic structure of Thomas Was Alone is similar to countless other games. You'll navigate through increasingly tricky levels, and your only really skill is the ability to jump. Eventually you'll be controlling multiple little blocks at once. Each has different characteristics — some are tall, some can jump high, some can float in water — and you'll need to swap between them constantly in order to get to the exits at the end of each stage. While it has the mechanics of a platform game, each level in Thomas Was Alone is more like a puzzle, where you have to figure out how the blocks can work together.

The writing is both funny and heartfelt

You'll want to keep pushing through not because solving these puzzles is so satisfying (though it can be), but in order to find out what happens next. Each level features a brief snippet of charmingly acted dialog, voicing the innermost thoughts and fears of what on the surface are just blocks of color. It sounds like a gimmick, and maybe it is, but the writing is so good that it doesn't matter. John the rectangle's relentless optimism made me smile every time, while Thomas' naivety makes him instantly loveable. The writing is both funny and heartfelt, and it makes it hard to put the game down.

Thomas Was Alone first launched in 2012, and is already available on Windows, Mac, PlayStation 3, and Vita. If you missed those versions, today you can check it out on iPad. Platform games are notoriously awful on a touchscreen, but the game works surprisingly well, and actually features a much-improved mechanic for switching between characters. The focus on audio storytelling also makes it perfect for curling up with some headphones on, so the iPad version is close to ideal. You can grab it at the link below for $8.99.