The Talos Principle – Review (PC)

Hailed from the heavens with fanfares aplenty, The Talos Principle debuted on Steam last week. This digital second coming took on the form of a first person puzzler with a deep world and a philosophical jack hammer. Sadly, I found this FPPAFC (First Person Puzzler Analogy For Christianity) to be lackluster.

First off let me say that I found it to be lackluster only because of the hype it generated before release. With others describing it as  “superb”, “phenomenal”, “a masterpiece” it is hard to expect anything less than a golden God  of an experience.

Its environments are beautiful, with each new area having a different aesthetic and lending itself to this image of a lost world to which you are the only remnant. Shaders and lighting make eveything look simply drool-worthy, and the visual design makes it remarkably easy to find your way around. Couple this with the hidden data terminals and audio logs around the world and it actually becomes quite enjoyable to just wander around each environment.
The Talos Principle is purely a puzzle solving affair,  as you jam electronics, reroute lasers and manipulate time, all while some unseen God figure talks cryptically about “The Tower”. The puzzles are adequate. if a little too simple, and each puzzle only took around two to three minutes at most. The difficulty curve rises gradually enough to allow the non-linear progression to work, which is a  welcome feature meaning  we never got stuck or gave up.

The game features a rich back story, with data logs on every level revealing a little bit about the outside world, the laboratory you were created in and what happened to them both. This information is presented in the form of a library assistant A.I that has becomedamaged over the years. While the script can be puzzling, or obtuse, at times, it was pulled off well enough to keep me hanging on for more information.

It can feel incredibly frustrating to search through the worlds for the hidden data terminals only to find they are mostly corrupted, with whole sections of text replaced with numbers. Sure, it adds to the mystery but it becomes irritating after a while. 

Eloheim is the god figure of The Talos Principle who claims to have created all the worlds for you to live in but warns you of “The Tower”.  His voice usually rings with biblical power and severity but in some levels it just feels like a disappointed father.

The biggest downside to The Talos Principle is that no matter how great it looked, no matter how invested the plot kept us, it was hard to get excited about it. The puzzles are usually too short and simple to really get into., or to give a feeling of reward.  The environments may be gorgeous but are too similar to break each area up.  And, whilst I enjoyed the non-linear progression, the fact that it required me to do certain missions in order, made it feel unrequired.

The Talos Principle is a victim of its own high praises. It truly is a good game, but I cannot say that I found it to be “phenomenal” or a “masterpiece”.  Puzzle game fans should definitely still scoop it up, but adjust your expectations before diving in.