Review – The Talos Principle
The Talos Principle kind of threw me off guard. I had originally picked up the game based off the notion of Croteam and Devolver Digital. Being the creators of Serious Sam, I was expecting an off the wall ode to the original shooter as waves upon waves of enemies came careening down on the player. However, I was given something very different. I was given something thoughtful, and psychologically engrossing.
The Talos Principle starts off in a very ominous nature. You begin rising from the hard concrete surface of bed in an old Roman ruin. Not much is explained apart from Elohim, who introduces himself as the god to this particular world. You must learn and strive to progress through the trials in which he has lain out before you. There is one caveat though. You must never enter and attempt to reach the top of the tower, although the tower remains unclear for the first hour.
The Talos Principle is a First Person puzzle platformer, although the simple platforming makes an appearance a few hours down the road. While solving puzzles, you are introduced and later required to use many new mechanics to help you progress. At first, I was introduced to an electrical disruptor which disabled force fields or shut down turrets. Later, more complex puzzles would start to use boxes, laser refractors and fans. However, these items are locked behind puzzles, which can only be completed by collecting enough pieces throughout the world. While many of the main puzzles can be easily completed, they do become quite difficult near the end game.
Surprisingly, it’s a pretty big game. By no means does it have large expansive worlds, but it makes up in size by both the complexity of the puzzles and the use of hubs. I’ve found the best way to describe these levels through a letter-number system (shown in-game as well) such as A3, where the world is ‘A’ and the subsequent number is the level within the world. Outside of these worlds though, you are introduced to the tower; the one place you should never go according to Elohim. For those who crave danger, the tower is comprised of multiple levels all locked until certain goals are met in the game. Behind each of the walls is a more moderate puzzle with a computer terminal at the end.
The computer terminals act as the main conduit for story. Elohim speaks to you as you progress, but it is these terminals that really carry what I consider to be the meant and potato of the story. Each level contains a terminal (sometimes two). Within these terminals, you are given some backstory to the world. Through small files, you are exposed to both textbook reading but also emails from society before the wall essentially fell apart. Playing devils advocate, there appears to be another being on the other end of these terminals that will start up conversation every other terminal. While most of the conversation revolves around philosophy and self-awareness, the other voice hints at other story elements as you progress as well.
As a philosophical puzzler, I would recommend this to anyone who has enjoyed titles in the vain of Portal, although I can admit that I grew bored near the end. In the last few levels, the story kind slowed and disappeared for a bit. Apart from that, I ran into monotony and grew a little bored in the end. However, don’t let this ruin an excellent experience as you progress to end. Not being what I originally expected, I was still vey pleased and will most likely pick up the newer DLC content just released. Until then though, I will be pushing to unlock the final two endings that I had missed and will find the true ending behind the experiment of The Talos Principle.