Thomas Was Alone, Then He Met The Church

by M. Joshua

Thomas met the church

Thomas Was Alone brings us an emotionally-compelling experience by having a savvy Brit for a narrator. He tells us in humorous elocution how the titular character, Thomas, was feeling.

Thomas was alone. Then he met the church.

Okay, it wasn’t exactly the church. The narrator never calls it that. But Thomas’ friends are like a church – a diverse community of gifted folks on a mission to bless the world. They certainly had all of the problems like a church: personality conflicts, divergent ambitions, and a clear lack of leadership. But that’s where the player comes in.

Welcome, pastor!

A Pastor Sim?

Thomas‘ gameplay is going to look foreign at first glance. Yet, as you pick it up, it will feel familiar. Imagine if Super Mario 2 had you play as all four characters at once. You control Luigi at one time while others stand by idly waiting for your input. And you have to get them all to the goal at the same time. You have to use each of their unique skills to work together.

Pastors in real life are called as such because sheep are known to wander. But Thomas puts you in direct control of each member of your flock, switching between characters with a simple button. They won’t wander, fortunately.

Some characters are overtly better than others. John is an athlete. Chris, on the other hand, is short and stocky. He can’t jump very high. Not to mention that Chris seems to hate everybody. Claire is introduced when she’s in a very sad state, but soon discovers that she has a super power. Her vanity blinds her a tiny bit to the fact that everybody in their pack has a power. Some folks’ powers make them feel insecure, like Laura. At first, she’s afraid that if anybody discovers it, they will leave her, just like the last people who discovered it.

Since the player is the “perfect” pastor, everything works out perfectly (not at all like real life). Yet, if this game is a glimpse of what the church is supposed to be like, the ending will leave you greatly satisfied.

Thomas is a square

That’s actually not true. Thomas is a rectangle. A red one in fact. All of the characters in the game are rectangles (I say that in case you didn’t decipher that for yourself). This is why Danny Wallace’s narration is so important. You can’t convey emotion with something as simple as a colored rectangle without it. It’s fascinating that we as people can relate to just about anything if you give it a name. And if you give that thing a name, an adventure, and a direct connection to the things that matter most in life? Well, I’ll leave it to you to figure out what that is.

Thomas Was Alone is $9.99 on steam and it might be my favorite PC game of 2012.