Platform: PlayStation 4 (reviewed), PC
At a time when most first-person games require a player to hold a gun to get the job done, The Talos Principle provides a fresh, innovative take for the genre. This time around, you're a robot simply tasked with complex puzzle solving in a world that needs some shaping up. It may look like an ideal utopia, but once your unseen sentient guide requires you to take action, you know that something's up.
So you'll spend a majority of the game wandering around large 3D levels, moving items around and activating switches while avoiding dangers, such as patrolling robots that will shut you down upon touch. It can take a little bit of patience to get through some of the later stages, but The Talos Principle, which initially wowed audiences on PC, definitely provides something unique for PS4 owners.
Building Up a Story
You're not entirely given a whole lot of backstory as The Talos Principle begins, but that's the point. As a robot just following orders, your job is to discover things as you make your way through each level, opening up doors that take you into new areas and discovering computer terminals that may (or may not) provide the information you need. On top of that, a large, god-like voice bellows from time to time, providing cryptic words of encouragement as you continue on your adventure.
There are certain fundamentals to grasp about Talos – like the fact that you won't be directly shooting anything at all (turrets hold enemies in place or activate doors so that their patrol won't get in your way) – but it's all done wonderfully well, and by Croteam no less – a squad that made its living creating the comically violent Serious Sam games. This is a refreshing change of pace for them.
Some things could be said about the game's pacing – some puzzles can be diabolically hard to figure out. But like most games of this ilk, when you reach that "A-ha!" moment and finally work your way to the necessary switch, it feels like euphoria. This is a game that challenges instead of frustrates, thanks to the way the controls are set up. And even if you do mess up, you can simply start over and learn from your mistakes.
Also, the way the story unfolds is rather neat. You learn quite a bit with your AI-driven being, and at the same time start to feel something for humanity in the process. Again, a far cry for the developer, and a concept that works very well, even for a genre such as this. It'll last you a good while as well, particularly since this the Deluxe Edition, which includes an expansion with various new levels not in the original game.
An Automated Performer Up To Speed
For the world of Talos, Croteam has managed to put together a fantastic, yet still problematic, utopia, as you'll make your way through beautiful terrain while also handling pesky robots and other threats. It's an interesting mixture, but one that works more often than not, thanks to the sheer cunning of the level design.
There are times that the performance can go a little under the weather, with occasional slowdown and quirky frame rates (instead of the usual 60 that it runs at). But they're hardly enough to get in the way of the game's beautiful performance overall. It's still one good-looking game.
For that matter, the audio holds up as well. Along with the sharp narration by your unseen master, you'll also find a quaint musical score and sound effects that really mix in with the environment, even if the robots don't have much to say beyond electrical shock sounds. Hey, that makes them even scarier, right?