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Spotlight on Indie: Thomas Was Alone

by: David Sanchez ; edited by: Michael Hartman ; updated: 5/25/2012 • Leave a comment

Welcome to Spotlight on Indie, a feature where we look at indie games that are inventive, unique, meaningful, or just plain fun. In this entry, we take a look at Thomas Was Alone, a minimalist puzzle platformer created in a span of 24 hours across two days.

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    A 24-Hour Project

    The moment you begin playing Thomas Was Alone, you immediately get a feeling of loneliness and isolation. 

    Indie games may not have a lot of financial backing, mass marketing, or large development teams behind them. But what they do have a lot of is heart. Ikachan proved that a game didn’t need to be created by more than one person to provide a memorable, worthwhile gaming experience. Fancy Pants Adventures also provided a great deal of fun without relying on a huge budget. Now there’s another great game (playable on Kongregate.com) that will likely go down as an amazing indie title that may not be massive, but certainly has a lot of heart and meaning.

    Mike Bithell of Blitz Games set out to create something truly special over a two-day period; something that doubles as both an artsy video game and a nice story. Thomas Was Alone is what happens when a creative mind dedicates himself to something and decides to turn boredom into an awesome project.

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    A Look at Thomas Was Alone

    The game features platforming and puzzle-solving, which are simple and fun, across a handful of minimalist levels. 

    When you play Thomas Was Alone, you immediately get a feeling of loneliness. There’s no music in the game and the levels look pretty barren. As you play, though, you can’t help but feel that there’s something more to this game than just accessible platforming and simple puzzles. There’s a story here, and it unfolds without the use of words or complex imagery.

    Thomas Was Alone tells a tale of loneliness that soon unfolds and becomes something deeper. And as this story is being told, you can engage in some platforming and puzzle-solving, both of which are pretty simple but a lot of fun. This isn’t a game that will consume hours of your time. Realistically, you can get through the game in under 10 minutes. But its design and short completion time make it even more appealing, because this minimalist game tells a touching story in a matter of minutes.

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    Minimalism, Platforming, and Storytelling

    As you progress through Thomas Was Alone, a story begins unfolding without the use of words. 

    Two days, five hours of sleep, and Red Bull. These were the active ingredients in the creation of Thomas Was Alone, a title that definitely stands out among the other free games on Kongregate. Mike Bithell took this project and turned it into something that’s full of meaning. To some, this game likely plays the part of lunch break distraction. To others, however, there is a story. Thomas Was Alone is a very special indie game. It doesn’t have a complex gameplay system; the controls aren’t perfect; and there aren’t conventional features seen in other titles. Still, this game proves that heart is the definitive driving force when it comes to game creation.