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The Talos Principle

Score: 95%
ESRB: Not Rated
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Developer: Croteam
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Adventure/ Puzzle


Graphics & Sound:

If someone told me that one of the most high-minded and cerebral games of the 2014 would come to us from the makers of Serious Sam, Iíd have probably told him/her to shut up. After all, how do you go from headless screaming suicide bombers and unkillable pink scorpions to hardcore philosophy and puzzle solving? I donít know, but God bless Croteam for bringing us The Talos Principle, one of the yearís best games.

The Talos Principleís austere but effective visual presentation leads to an experience that is something akin to wandering the Garden of Eden as designed by William Gibson, the father of cyberpunk. The contrast between the natural, majestic beauty of the grassy stonehenges and the assorted futuristic machinery that occasionally litters the landscape is stunning, and goes a long way in establishing a bizarre yet enticing sense of place.

Throughout your adventure, you are addressed by a disembodied voice calling itself Elohim. You donít have to be a theologian to know the implications behind the name; hearing it in all its deep, kind, booming splendor fills in all the blanks for you. Additionally, the music somehow fits all of these seemingly disparate themes; synth and bells perfectly capture The Talos Principle's heady consciousness/ religion/ technology slant.


Gameplay:

What makes someone human? Is it intelligence, that quality that allows one to solve problems through perception, interpretation, and logic? Or is it emotion, the force that brings out the very best and very worst of our kind? The Talos Principle uses these questions as a foundation for a strange and fantastic puzzle adventure and encourages the player to think deeply about them instead of passively sitting and listening as the game preaches its own answers. No, The Talos Principle is better than that.

You very suddenly come into consciousness in what appears to be half natural beauty and half the ruins of a once-magnificent civilization. For every acre of soft greens and browns, there are a couple of stone structures in various states of repair. But there are machines, too; all of which look like they donít quite belong. And then you hear a voice encouraging you to explore this strange world and to collect a series of tetromino glyphs. Why? For what purpose? Those are two of the many questions youíll end up asking over the course of your adventure. Some of the answers are in front of you; for example, who (or more specifically, what) you are. But where are you? Why are you there? And what exactly is going on? Your only way is forward.

The Talos Principle eventually introduces you to a strange, mechanical hub world populated by a series of portals, each of which in turn leads to its own hub featuring a number of puzzle mazes Ė each of which holds a tetromino glyph. It is your job to seek them out; as you obtain more and more of these tetrominoes, you can gain access to new areas Ė and by extension, more puzzles.


Difficulty:

The Talos Principle, much like other first person puzzlers like Portal and Quantum Conundrum, establishes very clear rules and always plays by them. None of these puzzles are unsolvable. Each one has an answer, and you will never feel otherwise. Youíll know this from the outset; each puzzle area is self-contained and smartly designed. Not all of them are small, but none of them are too large as to be overwhelming.

The Talos Principle may feature only one difficulty setting, but it features a simple and elegant system for informing the player of the difficulty of each of its puzzles. At the entrance of each puzzle area, there is a sign featuring the shape of the tetromino contained therein, as well as the color of it. This color indicates the difficulty of the puzzle you must solve to acquire the tetromino. Of course, it uses the classic "green for easy, yellow for intermediate, and red for difficult" scheme, and it works.


Game Mechanics:

If youíve played a first person game in the last twenty years or so, The Talos Principleís controls will fit your expectations like a glove. You explore the world in first person, discovering secrets and solving puzzles that test your interspatial skills as well as your grasp on logic.

All of the puzzles in The Talos Principle revolve around reaching a very specific area, but between you and each goal is a series of obstacles. You must find a way to get past these obstacles, and most of the solutions involve making use of special items in the area. Each of these tools has a very specific function and is governed by its own rules. And while youíll occasionally have to partake in a little trial and error, the game never hides anything from you.

Iím kind of gobsmacked by The Talos Principle; itís a release of the rarest breed; a game that dares to be intellectual, yet is completely devoid of the pretense and snobbiness exhibited by too many of its contemporaries. It not only gives credit to, but also assumes the very best of the player. And in this new era of cynicism, thatís bold.


-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos

Minimum System Requirements:



Windows XP 32-bit (with Service Pack 3), Dual-core 2.0 GHz, 2 GB RAM, DirectX 10 class GPU with 512MB VRAM (nVidia GeForce 8600 series, AMD Radeon HD 3600 series, Intel HD 4000 series), DirectX Version 9.0c, 5 GB available hard drive space, DirectX9.0c Compatible Sound Card
 

Test System:



ASUS G74S Series, Intel Core I7 - 2670QM, 2.2 GHz, Windows 7 Premium, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560M, 12 GB RAM

Related Links:



Microsoft Xbox 360 MotoGP 14 Sony PlayStation 3 MXGP: The Official Motocross Videogame

 
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