It’s no secret that I loved Thomas Was Alone. It stands alongside Fire Emblem: Awakening as one of my favorite games of 2013. Like FE:A, I have also been playing the Thomas Was Alone DLC – Benjamin’s Flight. This additional add-on, which launched alongside the PS3 and Vita release, is a $3.49 bundle of extra love and instead of doing a full critical review, I’m going to go ahead and rave about it until you’re convinced you need it in your life.
Benjamin’s Flight does exactly what you would expect Thomas Was Alone DLC to do. You get an additional story that is again equal parts touching and funny, while again making you care about quadrilaterals. This time, however, you’re finding love for a new star named Benjamin. Benjamin is the son of a scientist, and the two often make journeys to look at the majestic fountain of light. However, looking isn’t enough for them. Their goal is to one day reach it.
It’s a dream that is on the cusp of being realized. Benjamin’s father has just perfected a new device known as a jetpack and, shortly after Benjamin’s Flight begins, our new hero gets to test it out. He puts the invention through its paces, finds it worthy and promptly proceeds to sneak out of his father’s lab to journey towards the fountain.
What really helps enhance the story is the addition of two supplemental characters. Benjamin is shortly joined by fellow new character Anne and our favorite double-jumper, Sarah. Visually, Anne’s a bit like Laura, but lacks the bouncing ability. Her personality is much different, of course. Since Benjamin’s Flight is a prequel, we’re getting to see a younger, more idealistic, naive and enthusiastic version of Sarah. I prefer to think of them as the angel and devil sitting on Benjamin’s shoulder. Anne is the voice of reason and caution, while Sarah’s natural exuberance makes her support and push Benjamin forward, consequences be damned. It’s an interesting dynamic, especially considering how this episode plays out.
Then there are the levels itself. Any good Thomas Was Alone DLC has to build upon the existing framework to provide a more substantial challenge than we saw towards the end of the original game. Benjamin’s Flight more than met my expectations. Since Benjamin can pretty much go everywhere, the challenge isn’t so much about reaching new heights. Instead, it’s about finesse. The journey to the fountain is frought with perils. There are water hazards and spikey walls, and it becomes more about managing jetpack usage so Benjamin safely moves through each area without running into a hazard. In some cases, he must accomplish this while also ferrying Anne and Sarah.
I don’t want to spoil anything, but there’s one kind of challenge that comes up in the Thomas Was Alone DLC that I have to mention and shows why the new challenges are so satisfying. There are moments in a few levels where Benjamin must ferry Anne up to a location, but must have exact accuracy to sort-of slide Anne into a crevace, so she balances there. That way, when a player switches to her, she can glide on through a space that’s just her size. I admit, the first time I had to do this was frustrating, but I also felt so skilled and smart when I did manage to align Benjamin perfectly so I could shove her into the gap.
Benjamin’s Flight is pretty much everything you could want from Thomas Was Alone DLC. Players are getting another AI story that is just as interesting as the tales in the full game. You’ll root for Benjamin just as you did Thomas as you go through his 20 levels. More importantly, the scenario is in line with the difficulty level of the final acts of the full game, perhaps even more so, meaning you’ll have to work even harder to prove your platforming prowess.