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The Talos Principle Review

Exploring Existential Problems
by Ben Reeves on Dec 12, 2014 at 12:30 PM
Reviewed on PC
Also on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, iOS, Android
Publisher Devolver Digital
Developer Croteam
Rating Everyone

While you could argue that all narratives strive to deliver some kind of moral, social, or psychological message, most games are more concerned with empowering the player or delivering an awe-inspiring spectacle than they are communicating any meaningful message. The Talos Principle, on the other hand, is a piece of art that manages to entertain while it challenges you to think introspectively about the world and your place in it.

Players are dropped into a desolate jungle filled with Grecian ruins. A disembodied voice called Elohim claims to be your maker, and encourages you to explore the world and conquer his challenges. As you journey deeper into the game, it becomes clear that this world isn’t natural. Sections of the environment occasionally stutter in a flash of static. Meanwhile, a scattering of computer terminals allows you to converse with a library-assistant A.I. that challenges you to explain various philosophical interests. This peaceful, yet slightly haunting atmosphere encourages you to dive deeper as you slowly uncover a complex but sad story about the end of human civilization and the grueling work to preserve history.

Dispersed between these interactions are a series of puzzles that have you collecting tetromino-shaped sigils to unlock doors to new areas full of environmental puzzles. These puzzles start out simple, having you to dodge exploding droids and sneak past turret guns, but Talos fires a steady stream of new puzzle elements that keep each brainteaser fresh and exciting. Electronic jammers can shut down patrolling droids as well as energy barriers. Beam connectors help you reroute lasers from an energy source to an outlet that might power a fan or a door. Recorders allow you to imprint your actions into a duplicate version of yourself, which comes in handy while solving puzzles that require more than one pair of hands. As the game evolves, the puzzle difficulty escalates, but I only occasionally felt stumped or frustrated. Even the most elaborate tasks eventually melted into rewarding solutions as I juggled all of my tools, using each one for multiple tasks.

Unfortunately, a few puzzles involve a bit of running around, forcing you to backtrack through an environmental maze a few times to readjust your equipment before you solve a problem. The Talos Principle also falls back on a block-manipulation puzzle that has you placing tetrominos into a rectangular pattern in order to unlock each new area of the game. Some players might dig this element, but I felt it a little too repetitive and I was always eager to skip past these sections to the next set of environmental challenges.

The Talos Principle is a meaty puzzle experience that will take you over a dozen hours to complete and then leave you chewing on some of life’s greatest mysteries for weeks. You might not be able to solve the nature of humanity, but the rest of this game’s puzzles will leave you feeling brilliant enough to try.

A first-person puzzle game where players explore a ruined world, using sci-fi technology to unlock gates and dream about the existence of humanity
It doesn’t push any boundaries with its generic art style, but the graphics aren’t appalling
This soft, sometimes melancholy soundtrack isn’t very catchy, but it helps set the mood
The Talos Principle doesn’t require any complicated input combos or twitch reactions, but some of the puzzles will challenge your problem-solving skills
If you love brainteasers and philosophy, then The Talos Principle is better than a night at the movies

Products In This Article

The Talos Principlecover

The Talos Principle

PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch, PC, iOS, Android
Release Date:
December 11, 2014 (PC), 
May 22, 2015 (Android), 
October 13, 2015 (PlayStation 4), 
October 11, 2017 (iOS), 
August 31, 2018 (Xbox One), 
December 10, 2019 (Switch)