This article gives our impressions on the Playstation 4 version of the game.
Visions of Portal and The Stanley Parable immediately come to mind while exploring the rich, glorious world of The Talos Principle, but it’s very much a game that stands on its own merits.
At first, it seems clear that your role as a robot with a human-like consciousness is to obey the instruction from a god-like entity known as Elohim. This deity tasks you with finding the path to enlightenment, proving yourself worthy by completing a series of puzzle-like tests of varying difficulty. However, the underlying plot suggests there’s more to the world around you. While the central goal of the game sees a player collecting sigils to unlock doors and gain access to new areas, the player will encounter numerous terminals with intriguing information held on them. This information poses numerous philosophical questions to the reader, asking them about the world around them, what is the word of Elohim and who they see themselves to be?
There is a surprising level of depth in The Talos Principle, both in terms of its narrative and gameplay. The game itself breaks down to numerous puzzles which require the player to safely bypass security systems in order to collect tetromino shapes. Enemies in the game include wall-based turrets with far-reaching scanners, and patrolling drones which go kamikaze if they get you in their sights, exploding on impact.
Each puzzle has an infinite amount of retries and there’s no timer on you, at least from the early stages, so you can calmly and collectively beat the game at your own pace, in your own time. That’s one of the beautiful things about TLP, is that the game never rushes you or hurries you into a decision. It’s great background noise while you’re watching TV, but it is also engrossing and enriching enough with the numerous twists and turns that it really grab you and hook it’s tendrils in.
When you collect sigils, they can then be used to unlock hidden secrets and areas by slotting and matching them together in a tilting puzzle. This works fine using the base-controls of a gamepad, but when the game recommends you use the touch-pad on your DS4, it can present some troubles. My experience has seen regular double-tapping when I only clicked the touch-pad once, therefore putting it into places I didn’t want. It can also tilt the shape at angles that are more a hindrance than a help. However, it’s never a massive issue as you can easily swap out pieces and try different combinations. The puzzle will never progress unless it has been completed correctly.
Puzzles do, of course, get much tougher the deeper in you go, and later on you’ll need to active light-based switches with portable refractors, stack boxes to reach higher areas and even create clones of yourself in true The Swapper fashion to escape some areas. If the going does get too tough, however, the game offers a one-time hint system per puzzle, offered in the guise of another android-like messenger, to help get you through.
TLP is also surprisingly open in letting you go around and explore. There’s no set way to get through your objectives and you can travel between world-hubs quite freely. Stuck on one puzzle? No problem, come back to it later. You will need to collect all sigils to beat the game completely, but the order in which you do that is, by no means, set.
You’re also encouraged to explore the world further, picking up audio recordings from other travellers, read emails, answer philosophical questions, scan QR codes and more.
While TLP came out last year on PC, the Playstation 4 upgrade feels really tight and responsive. Not only does the package include recently released DLC, Road to Gehenna, which we’ll be looking at in a seperate article, but it’s fully patched up and is mapped wonderfully to a controller. You’ll find yourself floating around the map, never actually confused about what you have to do, but scratching your head furiously trying to figure out how you do it.
The Talos Principle is a generous, affordable package, that brings yet another engaging first-person narrative driven experience to PS4, in wake of recent releases Ethan Carter, Rapture and SOMA. It’s a beautiful looking title that will raise a few smiles, cause pause for contemplation and drive you mad trying to figure out your next move. But the game also knows how to deal out satisfaction and solving these puzzles will genuinely make you feel a bit smarter and a lot happier.
The Talos Principle brings out a rollercoaster of emotion in a player and does so in style. It really is a pleasure to play and will keep you gripped to the controller until the very end.
The Good Stuff
- Great level design and narrative direction
- Epic boss battles
- Fun to play
The Bad Stuff
- Some puzzles overly convoluted and long. Others are over too quickly.
We proclaimed the brilliance of this game to friends and family. When we weren’t playing it, we spent our time thinking about it. Awesome!