The Talos Principle is a game that genuinely made me feel stupid. I consider myself a pretty smart and clever guy but the philosophical slant of this game went well over my head; leaving me scratching it in confusion. You would have thought that the challenging puzzles would be the thing to make me feel dumb, but I found those to be satisfyingly challenging, even if they made no sense initially.
The game takes place inside (what I believe to be) a virtual reality. You play as a robot who has to complete puzzles for an enigmatic, disembodied voice. Your goal is to prove yourself worthy of ascending to a higher plane of existence. Along the way, you interact with a program inside of the computer terminals which is trying to convince you that everything around you is wrong and that you have to try to escape.
At least, that is what I think is going on. The game is littered with notes and computer files which speak about what it means to be human, the nature of reality, and what makes something/someone a conscious being. Each of the three worlds, Ancient Greece, Ancient Egypt, and Medieval Europe, pose these type of questions based on their particular belief system. Though some of it was pretty heady, I did enjoy reading the files and seeing how the different societies tackled these matters.
The heart and soul of the game lie with its puzzles, which have a very steady difficulty curve as you progress. Each level has a number of doors which in turn have a variety of rooms within that each contain one puzzle piece. Getting them isn’t easy as you must overcome certain challenges. Things start simple enough with you just having to avoid automated defenses to get the puzzle piece. As the game goes on, you will have to re-direct lazer beams, use boxes and fans, and even manipulate time in order to meet your goal. Things become more complicated when you have to use all of these things together in the latter puzzle rooms. When you collect enough puzzle pieces, you can then use them to unlock new abilities and other areas.
There is more to the game than the three main worlds however. A large and imposing tower sits in the middle of the world and you can ascend it by collecting red puzzle pieces. Since this tower isn’t a place the disembodied voice wishes you to visit, it looks completely different from the other puzzle rooms. There are also hidden realms within the main worlds. These areas are lush gardens that are inviting and provide a nice break from some of the bleaker looking locales. As you may have guessed, these two areas offer the most difficult puzzles in the game; ones that left me beating my head against a wall due to how hard they were.
For the most part the game is pretty laid back and you can take your time with the puzzles. This is good since you don’t really want to rush things. However, there are certain parts where you have to act quickly in order to not be killed by sentry robots and automated turrets. Though sections like these are few and far between, they do a good job of kicking you out of your comfort zone.
Graphically speaking, The Talos Principle is decent looking enough. It doesn’t offer anything that will blow you away, but it also isn’t a bad looking game either. The graphics aren’t exactly an important aspect of the title so they don’t have to be overly impressive. The environments look like what they are supposed to represent and that’s all that is needed.
While this game may be a bit on the challenging side, both from a gameplay and story standpoint, it is one that I can’t help but continue playing. It’s evident that the developers put a lot of effort into making this a truly unique and interesting puzzle game and it succeeds at what it tries to accomplish. The game has a sizable amount of content in it, and with the added DLC, “The Road to Gehenna,” it gives players even more band for their buck. The Talos Principle is a game that people need to play.
This review of The Talos Principle is based off a digital copy for the PlayStation 4 which was provided by Devolver Digital.