What does it mean to be a person, especially if you’re a robot. This question is at the heart of The Talos Principle, and to find the answer you must take on all of its puzzles and challenges as it dares you to climb its very own Tower of Babel.
Keep your mind free for puzzles
While much of The Talos Principle is unique and refreshing in a multitude of ways, its interface conforms to the standard first-person mold. Moving through the world is thus a familiar task, with picking up and utilizing items executed in much the same way as targeting and firing would be in an FPS.
It’s a good thing this is so straightforward too, because it leaves your brain free to contemplate the game’s fiendish puzzles. At their heart these brain-busters are similar to those top-down, light-and-mirror puzzles and other similar awareness games. As with these 2D puzzlers the goal is to unlock, reflect, and otherwise manipulate switches and locks with the various tools at your disposal.
Where The Talos Principle differs from these other titles is that it is set in a first-person 3D world. In that regard this is like Portal 2, another first-person puzzler that continues to alter it mechanics while being narrated to by a higher power. It is a lofty comparison indeed, but a deserved one as The Talos Principle's ingenious puzzles and strong, branching (if self-serious) narrative easily measure up.
Building its difficulty
The Talos Principle is fantastic at introducing and expanding its conundrums. Each new mechanic is unlocked at a good pace and subtly teaches you how it works. At times, with the more self-explanatory mechanics, this can be frustrating. For example, when you first unlock the reflective prisms that enable you to redirect a single beam of light to multiple sources you can't help but feel a little patronized by the overly slow pace.
Within a puzzle or two, however, it becomes clear why such elements are introduced at such a gentle pace, as a from these simple mechanical foundations towering puzzles are built.
Even the simple reflection mechanic is given extra depth by not allowing beams to cross. The first time I saw this it left me stumped until I realized that the I had in fact found the reflector on a raised platform. While this wasn't the platform I needed to be on to solve the puzzle it seeded an idea, and before long I had scaled a nearby flight of stairs to get the required angle.
As more mechanics are layered in you quickly find yourself in multiple staged puzzles, that see you moving back and forth between areas using switches, beams that deactivate devices, reflectors, and a range of other tools to move safely through puzzles and deadly traps to collect the blocks that lie at the end of each stage.
From the moment you awaken in The Talos Principle it demonstrates a clear commitment to its world and design. Stood in an old, overgrown, ruined Aztec city, the vivid greens and sun soaked yellows instantly suck you into its appealing world.
This striking introduction is being built on within moments. The voice of the game's God smoothly intones its message of peace, and sets the scene for the journey ahead.
As you progress new picturesque locations are introduced, all with the own distinct look but always with an aesthetic drawn from antiquity with religious connotations. It is a look that blends perfectly with the game's broader themes, and which keeps you constantly intrigued as to what will come next.
A wonderful surprise
The Talos Principle came out of nowhere. Launched amid the end of year rush, it was not a game that I was on the lookout for or even aware of - but it did instantly capture my attention and heart.
With its blends spatial awareness puzzles with deeper questions about consciousness and humanity. It is this mix that made me deeply engaged in the strikingly crafted world and narrative. While there may be dozens of other more bombastic titles on the market, few are as polished or as well put together as The Talos Principle.