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The Talos Principle

By Doubleplus09-02-2015
The Talos Principle

The Defence

Devolver Digital
Adventure, Indie, Puzzle
Release Date:

The Prosecution

Intel Core i5 3.0 GHz
AMD equivalent
Nvidia GeForce 480 GTX
AMD Radeon HD 5870
4 GB
8 GB

The Case

I’m certainly not the first to say this, but the premise of The Talos Principle surprised me heavily, being that it’s a first person puzzler with a heavy emphasis on philosophy coming from Croteam, the Croatia-based developers behind Serious Sam, one of the greatest and most faced paced intense hoard-based first person shooter series ever. As you can probably guess, this is a massive change of tone to their previous works. Will this step outside of Croteam’s comfort zone, be a step in the right direction, or should they stick to making games where you shoot tons of aliens and screaming, exploding headless men?

The Trial

In The Talos Principle, you take the role of a humanoid android that wakes up in a mysterious garden with an even more mysterious god-like voice calling itself “Elohim” telling you that you must undergo a series of trials before you obtain eternal life.The whole thing is a simulation. That may sound like spoiler, but it’s not. It establishes fairly early on, from the random intentional “visual glitch”, to logs, both of the written and audio variety, to the Milton Library Assistant who you argue the philosophy of sentience with while he advises you ascend the large dark tower that looms over the overworld, which Elohim constantly reminds you that you will die if you do so. Its also fairly clear that you are in the aftermath of the human extinction as you find what can only be described as the remnants of the internet, such as emails to friends and family, random documents and loads of other stuff you’d expect to find on a post-apocalyptic hard drive.

It’s never a good idea to get close to something that’s red and beeping, is it?

It’s never a good idea to get close to something that’s red and beeping, is it?

As you probably already guessed, these “trials” are the various puzzles you must complete to obtain “Sigils” which are Tetromino used as puzzle pieces to unlock doors and puzzle elements. The puzzles themselves start out mostly based around the “Jammer” which is used to deactivate barriers, floating mines, or the minigun turrets from Serious Sam: BFE (that’s right, Croteam, you are not able to reuse assets without me noticing). Eventually, you unlock the connector, a device used to solve the various laser puzzles, as well as crates, fans, a recording device that lets you record your actions and then play it back for the self co-op angle, as well as a platform your recorded self can use to carry you.

This may not sound like anything really ground-breaking gameplay-wise, because it isn’t. It’s pretty much what you’d expect from reading what the elements are. Lasers can’t cross lasers, use the fans to elevate stuff, etc. Also, as I mentioned on Team Indie review, self co-op really doesn’t work well as a mechanic and it’s no difference here. Most of the time, puzzles that involve it is mostly spent waiting. (This has been fixed in a recent beta update that allows you to bind a key to “Fast forward” which has the side effect of allowing you to sprint around at the speed of sound, which is fucking awesome).

If a rocket launching bipedal alien mech comes out of there, I'm gonna be upset.

If a rocket launching bipedal alien mech comes out of there, I'm gonna be upset.

The game is gorgeous. Just about every screenshot is desktop wallpaper worthy. If you played Serious Sam: BFE, you probably remember the absolutely MASSIVE list of graphical options and that’s carried over to The Talos Principle. I mean seriously, Borderlands 2 had a tooltip about how many graphical options it has, but SS:BFE/TTP’s options menu would eat BL2’s options menu for an afternoon snack. I mean, holy shit, I feel like I need to take an 8-week seminar on what the hell each thing does.

The Verdict

Game, gameplay-wise, isn’t really ground-breaking. However it does its job well enough to be interesting. However, in the field of atmosphere, subject-matter, graphics, and general feel, it smashes it out of the ballpark. The logs you find actually do feel like they were written by a human and not some random throwaway character that was barely given any thought. Elohim’s soothing, yet commanding voice really does make him out to feel like a fatherly, god-like being that could either be protecting and watching over you or holding you back and keeping you docile. Also, need I really mention the fact that you argue philosophy and what it means to be with a goddamned AI meant for managing archives?

Case Review

  • So Pretty: Graphically pleasing and tons of options, including in-depth color options.
  • Good World Crafting: The world of The Talos Principle is atmospheric and interesting to spend time.
  • Gonna be busy: Tons of content, including optional stars which are hidden behind some really clever puzzles.
  • On the Hunt: Lots of really fun Easter Eggs that are out of the way enough to not only be fun to get to, but won’t get on your nerves.
  • Do it again and again: Bit repetitive and unoriginal mechanic-wise, but not enough to harm the experience.
Score: 5/5
You argue philosophy with Milton Library Assistant. That’s all you need to know.
Comments (1)
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Posts: 1548

So is it actually Portal without portals?