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