Thomas was (not) alone

I bought the Humble Indie Bundle 8 and played Thomas Was Alone, which was included in the bundle. At first I had little expectations on the game, it was kind of pretty, but I didn’t know of its potential. This is not a review of the game, as there are plenty of them on the Internet, but rather some things I found interesting.

There are two things I really loved in the game. The first one is its narrator, it had the tone of the Narrator in Bastion and the humour of Wheatley, from Portal 2. In fact, I haven’t laugh in a game since Portal 2. Not only does the writing is funny by nature but it also make nods to other popular games and movies. Thomas Was Alone is an example of how you don’t need top-notch 3D graphics (heck, even decent sprites) to convey a great story or experience.

The second thing is regarding the mechanics. The game is built upon one simple idea, jump, which has variations according to each character from the game. And that’s where the game shines; by only tweaking little things about that simple idea of jumping, you get a whole array of submechanics that make the game more interesting. Even if the characters have no interesting physical representation or even voices of they own, the mechanics bond into the narrative so well that by playing we know what kind of personality does each character have. Just by playing. Now, that’s amazing.

While playing TWA, I was reminded of one particular movie from last year, which I love but still think it has a major flaw.

Both Wreck-it Ralph and Thomas Was Alone tell us that our differences are what makes us special, and that we should embrace ourselves and accept each one of us has something positive to provide. In the game, this is shown through the mechanics; in the movie, through the story. In Wreck-it Ralph, we’re presented with Vanellope, a glitch of a videogame, and Ralph, the villain of another. By the end of the movie, both accept it’s OK to be different, but Vanellope ends up truly being a princess, not an error. The whole point of the movie was ruined thanks to that. I know it is a Disney movie, but I think that accepting everyone for whom they truly are is much more powerful than just saying it and then showing that the one that was most different was not like that, at all.

Thomas Was Alone is a wonderful game that gives us a great message: Being different is not wrong, everyone has its pros and cons. Only by working together can we be whole.

Thomas, in fact, was not alone.

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