The Talos Principle: Deluxe Edition – Review
The Talos Principle’s November 2014 release was preceded by murmurings that we could be on the verge of witnessing one of the great puzzle games. Following the game’s release, those claims proved to be founded with The Talos Principle sweeping up numerous end of year awards from a wide number of publications. The game up until now had only ever been released on the PC platform, but following the release of August’s ‘Road to Gehenna’ DLC, console (more specifically PS4) owners can now experience the multi award winning genius that is The Talos Principle.
The Talos Principle, both in terms of its puzzles and themes is not for the simple minded or impatient. You’ll be questioning yourself regularly as you beat your head against a wall trying to solve a puzzle or as you’re pondering your outlook on the world with the game throwing deeply philosophical questions at your feet that demand thought. From an either first person, or over the shoulder perspective players will need to complete a series of puzzles within each zone to unlock tools that allow you to complete more puzzles – approximately 120 in total across multiple zones.
Despite there being some seriously perplexing puzzles, there is a natural line of progression present. Though you may feel the need being there to skip some puzzles, you’ll always have enough simpler solutions so you can collect enough sigils to unlock the next item. With each item you unlock for use, more puzzles can then be completed. While some fans and critics were quick to draw parallels between The Talos Principle and Portal, the reality is that the two games couldn’t be more different. Where Portal required players to be constantly on the move, The Talos Principle requires a far more methodical, slower approach. Getting your ducks in a row before the grand execution of a plan is important, but the pay-off is immense when that plan finally comes together, and you unlock the sigil. In tougher levels an added star is thrown into the mix for extra challenge, and the reward for getting it is even more satisfaction.
The Talos Principle doesn’t bring anything particularly revolutionary to the table, blocks for climbing on, signal jammers, laser connectors and turrets are among the tools at your disposal to complete the game’s many challenges – each of these tools are relatively stock standard, it’s the clever combination of them that makes the game so special.
What is unfortunate though is that the games superb design and puzzles never seem to synchronize with the games higher order ideology. The Talos Principle is an incredibly philosophical game. Taking on the role of a nameless robot that operates with near human consciousness, you’re on a journey to determine whether or not you actually considered to be a “person”. From terminals located in each sub-zone players will read through numerous emails, and listen to a number of different audio logs that all expand the narrative further. I recognised the names of a few referenced authors, though there were a number of other names I felt may have been created for the sake of the plot. No matter though because these additions all made the narrative feel more weighty and genuine.
The biggest issue with The Talos Principle is that both the gameplay and the plot run parallel to one another. With no intersection between these two elements the game can at times feel a little disjointed. It’s quite easy for players to progress through all the puzzles and have no idea what the story encompassed simply because they didn’t take the time to dive into the computer terminals or listen to the audio logs. While for some who are just looking for a solid puzzle game this may be an added selling point, it certainly would have been nicer to have some crossover as these plot moments never taking too much of your time. I’ve learned that writers got involved in creating a narrative for The Talos Principle when the game and puzzles were nearly complete, this is a shame for had writers been involved from the ground level then the intertwining of plot and gameplay might have been easier accomplished.
The Road to Gehenna DLC brings more of what made the main game excellent; there’s smart, at times brutal puzzle design while old tools get a new lease on life but the issue that I again encountered was that there was a disconnect between the narrative and the gameplay. It’s a meaty slice of content though clocking in at near enough to 15hours, which, when added to the campaign of similar length gives players a healthy 30hour experience should they be picking up the PS4 version of the game.
My head is throbbing after finally experiencing The Talos Principle. It’s rare that you get to play a puzzle game that gives you so much freedom, yet is still so linear only because it knows you’re going to beat your stubborn little head against a wall until you can solve its devilish puzzles. It’s of course a shame that the plot and gameplay were unable to crossover because it may have elevated the game into the greater echelon of games but you can be quite certain that you’ll fall head over heels for this superb game.