What is the best puzzle game of 2015? The RPS Advent Calendar highlights our favourite games from throughout the year, and behind today’s door is…
RPS Feature 2015's best puzzle game.
“ᵃᵃᵃᵃᵃᵃᵃᵃᵃᵃᵃᵃᵃᵃᵃᵃᵃᵃᵃᵃaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAＡＡＡＡＡＡＡＡＡＡＡＡＡＡＡＡＡＡＡＡＡＡＡＡＡＡＡＡＡＡＡＡＡＡＡＡＡＡＡＡＡＡＡ!” is the only line of dialogue I can remember from any of the Serious Sam games.
Despite this, developers Croteam are bringing in some big wordguns for Serious Sam 4. Jonas Kyratzes, one of the writers of Croteam’s fine philosophical robopuzzler The Talos Principle, and development/life partner Verena Kyratzes will be writing the screenplay for the backpedalling FPS, the gang announced today. My spies have managed to reconstruct shredded early drafts salvaged from the office bins, and I’m excited to exclusively bring you a line of actual 100% real genuine SS4 dialogue.
RPS Feature Online Bots
The Talos Principle [official site] arrived very late in 2014, such that it erroneously missed out on the Game Of The Year accolades it unquestionably deserved. It had puzzles to match the exquisite Portal 2, and a story which fascinatingly and engagingly explored the philosophy of consciousness and existence. But hurrah, it can now return to our attention some seven months later with the addition of Road To Gehenna – an extensive expansion pack with a whole new story. Here’s wot I think:
Here’s something I’ve been looking forward to for a few months (except I’d forgotten about *actively* looking forward to it and was more excited-but-put-it-on-the-back-burner-until-reminder-emails-arrived). The Talos Principle‘s [official site] expansion, Road to Gehenna, is out on 23 July.
I’m with Graham on Make Frivolous Fun Things Day. I respect developers who come up with goofy jokes for April Fools’ Day then actually follow through on them, though I’d like ‘em even more if they made goofy things whenever they wanted rather than wait until the sanctioned day, a day when I’ll be suspicious of everything odd even when its makers swears blind it is real.
So I was wary when The Talos Principle [official site] Croteam announced they’d added the voice of Serious Sam from the eponymous shooty shooty murderfest series to their quiet puzzle game. But no, they really have, and it’s free for a few days. The game’s on sale too.
Or, as Alice’s first draft for this news story put it, “Talos Principle, that game about lasers and jumping, is getting more lasers and jumping.”
The four-episode expansion is set in the same world as The Talos Principle but…
[SPOILERS WARNING FOR THE ORIGINAL GAME – TURN BACK ALL YE WHO HAVE NOT COMPLETED IT]
RPS Feature Me, myself and AI
Croteam’s The Talos Principle has a combination of neatly designed puzzles and philosophical pondering. It tickled my brainbuds and got inside my head in that way which sees you drawing diagrams of levels while on the tube or puzzling them out as you lie in bed pretending sleep might turn up at any moment. It’s one of my favourite games from 2014.
The game breaks neatly into two parts: there’s the Portal-esque first person puzzle element where you figure out how to reach and collect tetromino puzzle pieces which are used to advance you through the world; there’s also a philosophical/existential aspect which gradually feeds you scraps of text from a corrupted archive and asks you to consider things like the nature of consciousness and what it means to be human.
I’ll talk about the puzzles first.
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.
You can now play a slice from The Talos Principle for free, if you like. Which I think you should, because a philosophical first-person puzzler from the makers of Serious Sam that seems genuinely awesome is as rare as a kirin in France. Editorial overlord John Walker says that The Talos Principle is a “surprising new direction” for Croteam. Gone are the guns, the manic humor. In their stead stands writing from Jonas Kyratzes and FTL’s Tom Jubert, neither of whom seem to be very frantic nor very frivolous. The “public test” will let you explore “four increasingly difficult complete puzzle levels.” Why? Because the developers want to use you and thousands like you for their additional stress and compatibility testing.
RPS Feature Ontoludology
The Talos Principle is a very clever, very calm creation. Which is a surprising new direction from Croteam, who have previously given us the splendid madcap frenzy of Serious Sam shooters. While clearly sharing the same fast-paced twitchy controls of the Serious Engine, and a similar design ethic of ruined civilisations, beyond this Talos is dramatically different. It’s a captivating first-person puzzle game, more influenced by Portal than Doom, with an intricate back-story questioning the nature of consciousness and personhood told through fascinating interactions with an AI. I’ve had a play of its first, extensive chapter.