The Talos Principle: A Placeholder POV

Always jam tomorrow, never jam today

The embargo for talking about The Talos Principle is over but I’m still pondering my way through a few of its more obscure puzzles. Consider this, then, a kind of placeholder for our review. A placeholder that tells you that so far (about three quarters of the way through?) it’s been a really good experience. One of the standout games I’ve played in 2014.

The premise will be familiar if you’ve played Portal. You’ve got a number of worlds, each split into discrete maze-like puzzle areas. The idea is to collect a tetromino piece from each area by successfully navigating the puzzle space to unlock and reach it. The tetrominos are then used to open up more areas. At your disposal are redirectable laser beams (red and blue flavours), blocks, pressure plates, signal jammers and so on. Each little area is short enough to be memorable and by memorable I mean I could remember the layout and toolset for them well enough that while on the tube I could draw a diagram and finally find the solution to one which had been bugging me for ages.

As you progress you encounter computer terminals and a disembodied voice which encourage you to consider the nature of the reality in which the game takes place as well as wider existential questions. There are a lot of scraps of related texts from archives you can pick through as well as audio logs and QR codes spattered across the walls which offer snippets from previous travelers. Don’t worry, you won’t need to faff with a QR code reader or anything – that’s all taken care of in-game.

It’s an earnest endeavour and I’d say the philosophical side of things won’t be to everyone’s taste, but the puzzles have been great so far. There have been a few dips in difficulty now I’m so far in, but it’s generally very satisfying and neat with some real “I am so proud of myself for solving this one, lift the damn embargo so everyone can marvel at my genius” moments.

I’ll have further wordage, opinionage and screenshottage for y’all soon, before its release on the 11th

13 Comments

  1. Doomsayer says:

    There’s a demo. It’s a good demo. And a minigame thing that’s a quick bit of fun.

  2. Chuckleluck says:

    Can’t stop thinking about Skyrim.

  3. Faxanadu says:

    35 €. That’s a lot, usually puzzle games aren’t that expansive. (No pun intended.) But I really like the look of this. 1st person puzzles are just fun. I feel the point-and-click is just so far beyond me. I don’t want to feel like I’m flipping through the pages of a book.

    Any other 1st person puzzle/adventure games that are great?

    I remember reading on RPS about one in a really bright colourful lush island, but can’t remember what it was.

    • bravekarma says:

      The Witness by Jon Blow?

    • JakeOfRavenclaw says:

      You might be thinking of The Witness, which is out next year. This gameplay vid just came out: link to youtube.com

      As far as other first-person puzzlers go, I really loved Antichamber.

      • Faxanadu says:

        Yeah, that was it. Sheesh, next year? Man RPS covers things too soon. :) Thanks for the reminder though. (It looks so bright *drool* I just wanna eat that scenery. Always loved open world, combine that with some adventure and puzzles and you got yourself something goooooooooood.)

      • The First Door says:

        I really loved the first half of Antichamber… but then it just sort of tailed off. I felt very let down by the ending, to be honest.

        A slightly older first-person puzzle game which I remember being fun was The Ball. It used to have some Portal crossover levels too, which were a good giggle!

    • bill says:

      I got Magrunner free off GOG, and I was surprised to find that I really enjoyed it.

      It’s VERY VERY VERY portal, but of course not quite in the same league. But It definitely gave the same vibe and while the magnetism mechanic isn’t quite as immediately awesome as Portals, some of the puzzles are pretty cool and it’s very satisfying when you figure them out.

      Well worth grabbing in a sale.

  4. Lars Westergren says:

    I relly enjoyed the demo. Reminiscent of Portal sure, but there aren’t many games like that. And tantalizing snippets of plot too.

    • VelvetFistIronGlove says:

      I am reminded both of Portal and The Infinite Ocean, a point and click game also by Jonas Kyratzes (one of the writers on The Talos Principle) and dealing with similar philosophical ideas from what I can tell.

  5. LionsPhil says:

    Well, the demo’s got me feeling stupid before it’s over. It’s a puzzle game alright!

  6. fish99 says:

    Someone needs to remake The Tower of Babel.

    • Caiman says:

      I don’t swear very often, but HECK YEAH!

      Vies with Chaos: Battle of the Wizards for my favourite game ever, and certainly my favourite puzzle game. I created so many devious towers to share with friends.

      As for The Talos Principle, I got stuck on the second puzzle in the demo; I don’t know if this one is for me!