So every once in a while a game comes out which I barely heard anything about but then find out it got rave reviews and a few people recommended it to me with mixed results. Still one of these was The Talos Principle a puzzle game by Croteam who are mainly known for the Serious Sam series. Now that alone caught my attention as while I do like Serious Sam the idea of these guys doing a puzzle game was enough to make me wonder what they could do. Well I've now beaten the game so lets take a look.
So first off let's talk about the games story. You start the game awakening as a android in what seem to be ruins and are greeted by a voice by a being called Elohim who states that he has created you to perform a series of tests and if you perform them well he will let you roam his worlds and be granted eternal life with one rule. Don't climb the big massive tower in the hub world. Seems simple enough but in each world you visit you find computer terminals which explain a bit about what's happening, what you are and you soon find out all may not be as it seems.
There is also the AI called Milton. Milton routinetely gets into debates with you as to what is life, are you truly alive and if you truly have free will or just following Elohim because your told to do so. These debates are actually one of best bits of the games in my opinion as Milton is one of the best written characters I've seen in a while and even when you think you've got him he throws something back at you and makes you question the answer you just gave. He really does make you think about your answers and the fact Elohim is so heavily against him makes you wonder who to trust.
So story is damn solid but I can't really go into to much more as spoiler city but considering this is from the SS guys... colour me impressed.
Well it's a first person puzzle game where you will go through several puzzle rooms scattered around numerous levels with there being 3-5 puzzles in each room and about 7-8 levels in the games 3 main areas each based off a certain scheme such as a egyptian temples, roman/greek ruins and old medieval camps in the snow. The schemes don't really change anything bar the scenary but they do look nice.
As for the puzzles there are 4 difficulties. Green which are easy and usually involve little effort and mainly introduce new game mechanics, yellow which are medium difficulty and require a little thought to do, red which are pretty hard and will really test your brain power and then there are the stars. Now the stars are absolute buggers to get and will require you to change how you would normally think as they are usually hidden in hard to reach places with no obvious access and you will have to use different parts of the room to get to them or in some cases actually link parts of 2 or more rooms to get them. Thankfully to get the game endings they aren't needed but if you really want a challenge they are what to aim for.
Still as for the puzzles themselves you have numerous tools that you will use to complete them.
You have your lasers and crystal refractors which let you direct the laser in a specific place and can link multiple refractors to make a chain, jammers which jam electrical systems such as force fields, boxes that you can stand on to get higher or activate pressure plates, fans that let you float something in the air if pointing up or blast it away if facing to the side and time recorders which let you record a copy of yourself and other items so you can create multiple versions for a short time.
At the start of each puzzle the game will tell you which one's will be available and sometimes you need to combine multiple tools to complete a mission e.g. sticking a box on top of a fan, putting a refractor on top of the plan pointed where it needs to go and then turning the fan on so the box and refractor shoot up and get past any walls blocking the beams path.
However the game does have obstacles as well that can get in your way the most common being forcefields that have to be deactivated with either a pressure plate or directing a laser to a power point that will shut it down, mines which will blow you up if you get to close, gun turrets that will shoot you if you get to close, roaming blockers that will cut off laser beams if they go past them and locked doors which require keys to open.
Most of the puzzles use a combination of both the obstacles and tools for you to get past and you'll soon learn that certain combinations of obstacle and tool can actually work out for you e.g. mines will blow you up if you get close but if you put a box on top of the mine and then ride it you'll be fine. In fact this is one thing the game doesn't do well as when you get a new tool it will have a simple puzzle to explain how to use it... but nothing about how it works with other things which you have to work out your self. This can be annoying on some puzzles where it looks damn near impossible at first but then just taking a wild guess with two different things gives you the answer.
Also at the start of each puzzle there is the ability to get help but to do so you need to find a messenger and where are they? Why hidden in the main hub world and you need to complete puzzles in order to get them and even when you do the help they give is pretty minimal... kind of makes you wonder what the point is really.
Still so that's the game but how about looks and performance. Looks it's got down as it looks brilliant.
This really shows what the serious engine can do especially when it's also not trying to load a 100 guys all charging towards you at the same time. Performance wise it runs really smooth and bar a brief stutter when going into a new puzzle some times I had no bugs, no slow down and it went great the entire time.
One thing that gets me is the fact when you go to a new puzzle level there are large areas you can explore which while they look pretty and some do hide audio logs most of the time they hold nothing so kind of makes me wonder why they are here other then to go "look. We can make awesome looking levels. Just look at that water and cliff edge isn't it awesome". Yeah kind of not needed... do look nice though.
Overall the Talos Principle is a damn solid FPS puzzle game. A lot of the puzzle elements it has aren't new but they are executed perfectly and the story and conversations with Milton and Elohim are well done and considering who it's by I'm incredibly impressed with they have done and the length is pretty good as well.
If your a fan of puzzle games this is one I can defintely recommend.
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