Thomas Was Alone, the iPad adaptation of the hit PC and console platformer, proves that you don't need flashy graphics to create an emotional attachment between a player and a character. You see, Thomas is nothing more than a small red block, but by the end of the game's epic story you'll probably like him more than most fully rendered 3D game protagonists.
At its heart, Thomas Was Alone is a pretty straightforward platform puzzle game. You guide Thomas and a number of other blocky characters through increasingly complex levels that require inventive solutions. Your goal is to make it to the portals at the end of each stage, but getting there isn't as simple as it usually appears to be.
Each block has different properties, like the ability to jump higher than the rest or float on water where the others will sink, and you'll need to use all of them in order to navigate to the exit. This often means a good deal of trial and error -- but mostly error -- as you'll miss jumps, fall in deadly liquid-filled pits, and get stuck in areas where you don't belong.
If you pay attention to the story sequences between levels you'll learn the background of how Thomas and his friends came to be. It involves an artificial intelligence experiment gone wrong, and the self-aware AIs that resulted are the blocks you meet along the way. It's a very strange concept, but it helps give purpose to your actions and adds a good bit of geeky humor as well.
The game is quite long, spanning a solid 100 levels in the core game as well as an additional 20 levels in the included expansion adventure called "Benjamin's Flight." The bonus levels add a jetpack to the mix, which creates a whole new way to play, and you can start this standalone quest right from the main menu without having to beat the original adventure first.
Thomas Was Alone is currently on sale for US$5.99, down from the regular price of $8.99. Those are both pretty high for iOS games these days, but the quality of the gameplay, story, and original twist on the platforming formula is definitely worth the asking price.