Make a racket in Mike Bithell’s Thomas Was Alone follow-up: Volume


Thomas Was Alone was a nice game of logistics in which the player directed a gaggle of regular quadrilaterals one-by-one to an exit. It was lifted above its puzzle-platforming peers by two things: a brave narrative about friendship, and 2D environments that owed as much to magazine design as Mario.

For a good portion of Volume’s announcement trailer, I found myself fretting that Bithell had deserted his forte in graphic design for clumsy 3D. But in its natural top-down habitat, it features just enough geometric abstraction to look like a real-time Frozen Synapse.

No Rainbow Six antics here, though. Instead, fast-paced stealth (distr)action.

Volume’s as-yet-unnamed protagonist navigates blocky player-generated environments and the armed assailants that patrol them. He cannot kill, and so must use blackjacks, bugles, thunderclaps and his Ricochet – an arm-mounted distraction and retrieval tool – to control enemies and steal the loot scattered about the game’s levels.

Ah: those levels. They’ll mostly be provided by players, using the editing tools you’ll find demonstrated at length here:

“The game will be released with hundreds of challenging and exciting environments, but that is only the beginning,” writes Bithell. “Every area of the game can be remixed, added to and expanded upon. The community are free to take the game in any direction they want, even releasing their own takes on the core levels.”

Cor. It’s all the work of Bithell and a few friends, listed on the Volume site, with another accomplished (if from the sound of it, slightly mushy) score from “annoyingly young” TWA veteran David Housden.

The developer is planning to stream the game at 9pm BST tonight – though you should watch his Twitter account for further details. Volume will also make itself known at Eurogamer Expo in London, and GameCity in Nottingham – where the game’s story and cast will be first divulged.

Thomas Was Alone featured a spirited turn from English journalist and media personality Danny Wallace. Who’s in Volume’s cast, do you reckon?