"It is fitting that the first act of sentient AI was an act of selflessness."
Thomas Was Alone is a puzzle platforming game for the PC by Mike Bithell about getting coloured blocks to walk into doors. Also, heartwarming friendship, and the awakening of AI, narrated by Danny Wallace.Thomas Was Alone is a story about a group of Artificial Intelligences who meet up in their respective test instances thanks to an error in the coding of how each chamber is generated. It starts with Thomas finding himself alone, but after traversing through the first couple test instances (see: Tutorial) he finds himself in an instance with Chris, who doesn't much care for Thomas, or his ability to jump much higher than he can. This goes on, showcasing each new character and their special ability in the world until we have our band of seven: Thomas the Friendly, John the Proud, Claire the Superhero, Laura the Helpful, James the Self Conscious, Sarah the Adventurer, and Chris the Insecure.Additional content to the game, entitled Benjamin's Flight, tells a story that takes place prior to Thomas's adventure. Inspired by the picnics taken with his father, the young Benjamin steals his dad's new jet pack and sets off to reach the Fountain, joined by the moody Anna and familiar face...purple rectangle Sarah.
The main game provides examples of:
Adam and Eve Plot: At the end of the game, Sam and Jo are the two AIs who manage to escape the system into the real world, and apparently become parents to a new AI race. See The Singularity below.
Advancing Wall of Doom: Several, mainly in the form of rising water. At one point you get them twice in succession, one from the left, and another from below.
A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Most of the AI rectangles are very sweet, but Chris is a little abrasive, Sarah and John suffer from superiority complexes and Grey is downright evil. The Pixel Clouds are also shown to be intelligent, and are treated as Eldritch AbominationHero Killer monsters.
And Now for Someone Completely Different: Several times when a new character is introduced. Most obvious is the start of 'Generation' when Thomas and the gang are replaced as Player Characters by Paul, Sam and Jo, Team Jump and Grey; this section is very different in both gameplay and tone from the rest of the game and seems to have been the internal design for a sequel that was scrapped. This is lampshaded when 'Generation' is reached as the achievement for that section is "Electric Boogaloo"
Benevolent A.I.: Thomas is certainly a friendly and curious little fellow, and most of the others, while a bit eccentric, are pleasant enough. Heavily implied to be the result when Sam and Jo ascend at the end to create a new race of artificial intelligences.
Benevolent Architecture: Early on, Thomas notes that the world seems to be designed to push his abilities, not actually stop him.
Cool Old Lady: Sarah, the fearless adventurer of the group, is said to have a "wizened old head" despite being a little purple rectangle.
Cool Old Guy: Paul, the grey rectangle in the final chapters.
Curious as a Monkey: Thomas likes to observe how things work. He's nearly bowled over when he connects to the internet.
Despair Event Horizon: John appears to cross this during Purge, when all his friends are eaten by the pixel cloud.
Narrator: For the first time in a while, John didn't have an audience. He was alone. Leaping from black square to black square didn't seem nearly as exciting now. It just seemed empty....John gulped. He knew he'd never escape. He knew it was waiting for him. He decided to jump the massive scary gaps, just for old time's sake.
Does This Remind You of Anything?: James' narration could be taken as a parallel to that of a young man struggling with his sexuality. He describes himself as "weird", "different" and "inverted" (the term "invert" used to refer to a gay man, though in this case it simply means that gravity affects him in the opposite way to his teammates) and he is worried that, although Thomas accepts him for who he is, the others won't be quite so understanding.
Laura is tentative about forming a relationship with Chris because everyone else she allowed to bounce on top of her used her and then abandoned her. In her case, "bounce" is perfectly innocent - she's a springboard - but still...
Heroic Sacrifice: Thomas and rest of the original crew disperse themselves into the datastream in order to awaken all the other AIs.
Paul leads the villainous Grey to the final Pixel Cloud, trapping them both forever.
Hive Mind: Team Jump are five identical squares that speak and think in unison.
Jumped at the Call: Claire, on discovering that she has Super Not-Drowning Skills, instantly concludes that she's a superhero and ponders getting a cape. John also engages in heroic behavior, but mostly because he likes the ego boost.
Minimalism: All of the player characters are simple flat blocks, distinguishable only by their differing sizes and colours. The gameplay itself is platforming at its most bare-bones.
My God, What Have I Done?: The programmers and staff who are quoted from time to time. When Thomas and co. dissolve themselves into the data stream, they lock up the company and walk away, having no idea what's going to happen next. It's also played with too; some discuss the events clinically and historically while one grumbles that if they had done things properly, he wouldn't be out of a job.
The achievement for starting the level that introduces James is "Viridian".
After connecting to the Internet and before he and his friend disperse themselves into the datastream, Thomas ruefully muses that he'll never get to meet Nathan Fillion.
The Singularity: From the blurbs written at the beginning of the chapters, the narrative can be gleaned that Thomas and Co. gave the other AIs in their system the chance to escape it and awaken in the real world. In fact, one of the narrations is from an AI who's a rights activist and cites Thomas's sacrifice as the beginning of their existence.
What Happened to the Mouse?: The fates of Benjamin's father after Benjamin leaves him, and of Anna after she leaves Benjamin and Sarah, are left unknown. Additionally, as Benjamin is not mentioned in the main story, his own fate is ultimately unknown.