Thomas Was Alone

Common Sense Media says

Fun platformer with a lovely story about friendship.

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

Learning(i)

What parents need to know

Positive messages

This game examines human feelings and relationships. The story explores themes of loneliness, friendship, overconfidence, self-doubt, selfishness, and sacrifice. 

Positive role models

The rectangular characters have human-like personalities and loosely conform to their shapes (tall and athletic, plain and unremarkable, etc.). However, they quickly learn to be more than what they at first seem to be. They get to know, love, help, and make sacrifices for each other, finding a greater strength as a group of friends than they ever could alone. 

Ease of play

There are no difficulty levels from which to choose, but the run-and-jump puzzles start out easy and only gradually increase in difficulty. Some challenges require precise timing and a deft touch with the control stick (which can be just a little laggy), but the levels are short, keeping frustration at a minimum.

Violence

Rectangular-shaped characters occasionally fall onto spikes or into water. They disappear and the level resets. There is no blood or gore, but death is implied within the story.

Sex

Dialogue makes it obvious that a couple of the rectangles are in something approaching a loving relationship. There is no hanky-panky.

Language
Not applicable
Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable
Privacy & safety

No privacy or safety concerns.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know Thomas Was Alone is puzzle/platformer that has players controlling little rectangles as they hop around small, two-dimensional environments. More than that, it employs a narrator to tell a story rich with humor and emotion and filled with basic but enduring lessons about friendship and human relationships. It does so innocuously, without resorting to sexual themes, graphic violence, or even harsh language. However, while this game has little that might be considered inappropriate for younger players, some parts of the story may be too abstract or emotionally complex for younger kids to fully grasp.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • storytelling

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • solving puzzles

Emotional Development

  • identifying emotions
  • moving beyond obstacles
  • persevering

Collaboration

  • teamwork
  • cooperation
  • meeting challenges together

Engagement, Approach, Support

Engagement

Thomas Was Alone draws players in from the first sentence of this extraordinarily engaging narrative, compelling players to keep playing just one more level to find out what happens next.

Learning Approach

Everything players learn about the characters, their emotional motivations, and their evolving friendships is baked into the story, which spools out organically.

Support

In-game instructions supply players with everything they need to know to play. There's little in the form of outside support or communities, but little is needed. The game is self-encapsulated.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • storytelling

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • solving puzzles

Emotional Development

  • identifying emotions
  • moving beyond obstacles
  • persevering

Collaboration

  • teamwork
  • cooperation
  • meeting challenges together

Kids can learn about emotions, friendship, and cooperation in this brilliantly written platformer/puzzler. As the story progresses, players listen to a narrator describe the characters' emotions, in the process learning what each one thinks of himself and the others. Kids observe how those perceptions change as the characters encounter and overcome environmental puzzles and obstacles, including helping one another and relying on each other for support. Thomas Was Alone helps kids understand how relationships work and teaches them to celebrate their friends' differences rather than envy or make fun of them.

This Learning Rating review was written by Chad Sapieha

Parents say

Kids say

What's it about?

THOMAS WAS ALONE is a two-dimensional platformer/puzzler about relationships. Its stars -- a cast of rectangles of varying size, shape, and color -- each have their own qualities, such as tallness or shortness, the capacity to float on water or squeeze through narrow gaps. These qualities inform their personalities. The tall one is athletic, a bit conceited, and loves to perform for an audience, while the small, simple square is bitter about how unexceptional he is. However, as the game progresses it becomes evident that each rectangle has unique attributes that the others must rely on in order to bypass obstacles. This helps the group forge a bond of friendship and trust. They realize that by celebrating their diversity they can accomplish far more together than they could alone, and in doing so they come to protect and even make sacrifices for one another -- and others they don't even know.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

There aren't many modern games more rudimentary in design than Thomas Was Alone. Each level is simply a flat landscape of blocks and spikes and pools of water. Even the game's heroes are simple rectangles lacking hands, feet, mouths, or even eyes. And yet thanks to a brilliant script and an impassioned, award-winning narrator, these quadrilaterals somehow have souls. Their thoughts and motivations are simultaneously more complex and more believable than those of just about any blockbuster game around. And the relationships they forge with one another are deep and authentic. You'll come to care about these little quadrangles.

The puzzles they solve (with your help) are fun, too. Switching between them at will, you'll need to make them cooperate to help one another. That could mean climbing on one's back to float across a puddle or stacking them up to let another reach a higher area. The puzzling isn't quite as bold or original as the storytelling, but it fits the tale well, often acting as visual allegory for the emotions and problems the characters face in their friendships. You've likely never played another game like this, and you won't soon forget it.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about friendship. Who are your best friends? How did they come to be your best friends? What events transpired to make them people you could trust and rely upon when needed? What have you done in return to earn this kind of friendship?

  • Families can also discuss puzzle solving. What is it about puzzles that makes people want to solve them? Do you get frustrated easily and lose interest, or are you like a dog worrying about a rawhide bone, unable to let go until it's been unraveled?

Game details

Platforms:Mac, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, Windows
Price:$12.99
Pricing structure:Paid
Available online?Not available online
Developer:Mike Bithell
Release date:April 17, 2013
Genre:Puzzle
Topics:Friendship
ESRB rating:E for Mild Fantasy Violence, Mild Language (Mac, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, Windows)

This review of Thomas Was Alone was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

Find out more

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 13 years old Written bySteempunk July 3, 2013
AGE
8
QUALITY
 

A great game for everybody

This game is a heartwarming tale of some blocks, and their journey through friendship. There is no violence, other than if you consider these blocks hitting spikes and the level restarting, or disintegrating into water. It can be challenging at times, but that is what makes it fun. The only talking is the narrator, who does not curse or say anything only adults or teens should hear; he simply speaks for the blocks.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Teen, 16 years old Written byAlreadyTaken May 14, 2013
AGE
9
QUALITY
 

Thomas Was Not Alone

Thomas was Alone is a beautiful game. Violence is of no concern whatsoever, Mario is worse than this. There is a bit of language, but not much- maybe a d---n and a "hell" or two at most. Only reason I wouldn't recommend this for little kids is it might frustrate them and they wouldn't appreciate its simplicity and depth.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much swearing
Parent of a 10 and 17 year old Written byAngelos Tsiaklis December 12, 2013
AGE
9
QUALITY
 

Ja?

What other families should know
Great role models

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