The Talos Principle: Complete Edition Review
What is the meaning of life? I mean, existence, what is the point of it? Are we here to abide by the rules of someone, or something in the hope of attaining a promised eternal life, lived out in bliss? What is consciousness, is it the one thing that separates human beings from other living creatures, or are we in fact no different to any living being on the planet? Does the soul really exist, if so what is its purpose, and what happens to it after our life vessel in our body finally dies? These are questions that have been forever asked and in some part answered, only in many conflicting ways. These are the topic of the game The Talos Principle.
The Talos Principle was released in December 2014 for PC but now finds itself being released on console, on the PS4 thanks to the fine folk at Devolver Digital. As you can tell from my intro, the subject matter here is quite heavy, what will surprise you is how this subject is handled and what this game actually involves in the sense of game play.
You awaken without memory in an ancient Greek garden that lies in ruin. You are not human yet have all of the capabilities of a fully grown adult. A voice bellows at you from nowhere, yet all around. A voice that claims to be all, know all and control all. A voice that we would presume belong to God. He informs you that you have been bought here with a purpose. You must find his Sigils that have been scattered around the land. Find all of these Sigils and the most wanted reward awaits you, life eternal. However, you must not stray into the dark tower, for if you do you will surely die.
The game plays out as a first person puzzler. Each Sigil, which are different tetrominoes, is placed within its own puzzle room. All you have to do is obtain each one, lying in your way are obstacles and the tools of which to overcome them. The obstacles range from doors, gates, auto death patrolling robot suicide orbs (that’s my name for them) and auto gun turrets. The tools that aid your progression are jammers, fans, recorders, boxes and connectors. All of these tools interact with elements to bypass the obstacles, the only problem being to work out how. Each puzzle room is unique and there is a huge amount of them to work through. Some are really easy, some are complicated and extremely difficult but all give satisfaction upon completion, leaving you feeling quite brilliant about your intelligence within the logical solutions. There are times where I struggled with a room and moved on leaving it incomplete, however returning later with a fresh perspective and new thought plan usually grants success.
As you collect the Sigils they are added to sets, when a set is complete you are granted access to new abilities or unlock new areas by placing the tetronimoes together to complete a puzzle. It becomes crazily addictive, I found myself needing to complete everything, including finding a solution to collect stars which are placed in extremely tricky places with some puzzle rooms. It becomes quite an obsession, and due to the nature of the subject matter here, perhaps I needed to prove my worth and confirm my thought that I am an intelligent being. If you do get stuck there is the ability to leave help requests on walls, the answers can be as cryptic as the puzzles and often give minimal aid.
The subject matter is provided through the words of the apparent god, through voice time capsules left by an unidentified woman, through QR codes left on walls and with some interaction with the library assistant, an old computer program found on PCs scattered throughout the world. The program starts as a simple plain speak system designed to aid you with information but soon becomes quite conversational. You find yourself answering questions to the program, arguing with it over logic, physics and beliefs, and eventually questioning your own rational as it points out the conflict within your own beliefs. It is quite excellent in how this works and how it makes you feel, I found myself having less answers and more questions about existence than before I played the game.
As this is the complete addition the expansion, Road to Gehanna comes packaged. This gives you a huge amount of puzzles to work your way through, but no new tools or obstacles. One would assume that having such limited variety in the way of elements that the game would get tedious and boring. However, the level design within The Talos Principle is superb. Being that most puzzles take between one minute and (I will be honest) twenty minutes depending on your logic skills, there is also the ability to jump in and knock out a number of rooms with small game time opportunities. The best bit is it never gets old, yes you are basically getting from point a to point b, to find a puzzle piece to complete a puzzle that gains access to more puzzles, but each feels surprisingly fresh.
Graphically the game is quite good, with nice environments in which to navigate. There are a couple of frame rate issues but these are minimal and don’t detract from your experience at all, this could also be fixed via patch. The sound it quite good, not that there is a lot here, a few voices and some music but it is all done well. This game really is all about the puzzles and excellent level design, the looks just add to the overall experience.
Overall there is little to fault with The Talos Principle: The Complete Edition. It is quite lengthy and a challenging and thoroughly enjoyable experience. Combining the subject matter with puzzles in brilliant level design makes it a clever journey that can frustrate and also question some of your own thoughts and beliefs. If you want a change of pace and the chance to use your gray matter than I strongly recommend it!
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