The Talos Principle Review

Dakotah Lilly

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“The Talos Principle” is a first-person puzzle game that revolves around using the tools in your environment to collect Tetris pieces referred to as sigils. Using these sigils, you’ll unlock more areas and tools to use and to solve progressively more complex puzzles. This simple backbone forms the basis for what is the single best puzzle game I’ve played to date, and likely will be for years to come, as it nails every core aspect of what makes a game great with near-perfection.

The first thing that struck me about the game from the moment I started it was the music and atmosphere. That may seem obvious since it’s the first thing you’re subjected to, but being a 3D puzzle game where you have a character that moves around the environment, it’s a massive plus to have a good atmosphere. During my playthrough of the game, which took about 21 hours, I never once got bored or tired of the environment or music. The game in general has a very calming vibe, and since it lacks any sense of humor outside of Easter eggs, it tends to put you in a different state of mind while engaged with it. The static environment goes well with the music, and both work towards keeping you calm and focused on the task at hand, which you’ll need to be if you want any hope of completing this game.

That takes us to the gameplay, where “The Talos Principle” does exactly what every puzzle game strives to do. While it starts off fairly simple – halfway through the first area in the game I still wasn’t being challenged – it has a difficulty curve that makes sense. The puzzles get progressively harder as you go on, naturally, but take a step back every time a new mechanic is introduced, it gives you time to learn about the new tool you just unlocked before it goes back to showing off brilliantly designed puzzles. It paces itself well, and it deserves a lot of respect for managing to keep the curve so consistent, with very few hiccups along the way. It also includes a side puzzle in some cases, in the form of collectible stars. The game has multiple endings, and it appears that one of them requires finding 30 stars throughout the game, but if you’re like me, good luck figuring out how to get anything other than the obvious two.

The game’s story is where this game stands truly head and shoulders above any competition. From the very start of the game, it establishes a god constantly watching over you and occasionally speaking to you, who identifies himself as Elohim — no coincidence that this is the hebrew word for God. The game is heavily philosophical, although you probably guessed that from reading the title, and it puts you in the same kind of mental dilemma as Eve; this is also where the endings come into play. I won’t spoil the endings beyond what Elohim himself tells the player, which is the game gives you two obvious choices. Collecting all of the sigils unlocks the “Gate to Eternity” where Elohim promises eternal life, or you can choose to defy him. The fourth area of the game is the tower, where he tells us not to go. The player is enticed there by a computer program, called Milton, who engages in philosophical debates at certain points in the game. While ultimately the final choice rests in the players hands, the game gives some heavy hints towards one of those endings being the one and true ending.

The game makes you think, not just logically but also in terms of philosophy as well. The debates I had with Milton stuck with me throughout the whole experience, and the fact that sometimes I still wonder about my responses to his questions just goes to show how well made this game is as a whole. The writing serves the story very well, and never undermines it, the environment and atmosphere as a whole is a masterpiece, and the gameplay itself shows incredible skill in terms of creating a puzzle game. “The Talos Principle” is one of the few experiences that I can say, every person who loves games should give it a chance. It even has a demo which is becoming increasingly rare in modern gaming. There’s almost no excuse to not check it out.