Published on August 16th, 2015 | by Chris O'Connor
The Talos Principle PC Review
Summary: Come for the puzzles stay for the philosophy
Talos (the man of bronze) was said to have been made at Zeus’ request to protect Europa from those who would want to kidnap her.
The Talos Principle takes this mythological creature and brings it not so much into the modern age but beyond. The very moment you open the game you are greeted with angelic choirs and images of classical art, then much as any first person shooter (or in this case puzzler) as you are run through the basics of movement and actions. The biggest difference is that thanks to the story behind The Talos Principle, the tutorials are entwined in who or indeed what you are (or should that be what or who you are?). Because you see… you are an android, a modern day bronze man… but as you will learn throughout… you are more than a mere automaton… but the tutorials act as essentially a “boot up systems check” making sure your ability to interact with the world around you is working correctly.
Throughout the game you are spoken to by a godly voice, your creator it would seem… both nurturing and instructive with the odd warning (akin to do not eat the fruit from that tree). At the simplest level The Talos Principle is indeed a first person puzzler with the closest game to its type being Portal, but where The Talos Principle stands out is that it manages to explore quite deep philosophical concepts along the way. Scattered throughout the levels are computer terminals, as you raise your mechanical hands to interact with them you find yourself not just seeking answers to what’s going on around you… but indeed what or who you are yourself. The nature of what it is to be human, to be merely a body (and thus arguably simply a biological machine) or a body and a soul? What makes someone a unique person?
As a philosophy major perhaps this tickled my fancy more than it will many others… but it’s nice to see a game take a step away from a frag fest and instead not just get the player thinking about ways to tackle the puzzles ahead of them to progress… but posing questions about what it means to be human along the way. The appeal of the game then becomes not just, can I beat the next level but, what is the next part of this mystery, why am I here, who or what am I… what is my purpose… should I climb the tower (ok that last one is not much of a question… as with the biblical tale… the sense of curiousity is placed in the character for a reason.)
In terms of how it plays… it really is quite like Portal except that instead of carrying the one item that you will ever need for any task with you (the portal gun), each level supplies the tools required be that a jamming tool or a prismatic beam connector or something else. The challenge builds at a comfortable pace and once you’ve passed the first few levels you are free to come and go into further levels in the order you chose which enables you to focus on puzzles of specific types before possibly switching gears and trying a different sort of puzzle. Come for the puzzles stay for the philosophy!
The graphics are nicely done and feature The Matrix like moments of parts of walls and other scenery suffering momentary digital break up before returning to normal. The weather works to set the mood from bright sunny days to stormy skies. The whole visual style transports you from era to era and helps to break up the potential monotony of seeing the same headless statues and the same walls over and over again.
The sound is really quite immersive, the disembodied voice that guides you, the angelic voices providing a sense of peace, the sound isn’t overdone… it’s just right.
In terms of value… even at full price (basically $40) I think this is well worth the price for not just providing a game but providing a tool to inspire thought and perhaps introduce people to philosophy. If you are in doubt… Steam frequently have some very decent specials and you would be well advised to snap this up when you get a chance.