The Talos Principle: Deluxe Edition is a philosophical first-person puzzle game from Croteam, the creators of the legendary Serious Sam series, written by Tom Jubert (FTL, The Swapper) and Jonas Kyratzes (The Sea Will Claim Everything). Players are tasked with solving a series of increasingly difficult and complex puzzles woven into a metaphysical parable about intelligence and meaning in an inevitably doomed world.
Were you to compare The Talos Principle to any other game, the most obvious comparison would be to the Portal series. And why not? You are completing various puzzles while a disembodied voice encourages you to continue for their sake. However, that’s not what CroTeam (Serious Sam) seems to want you to take away from this game. If anything, it seems like The Talos Principle: Deluxe Edition would rather be compared to games like Myst, where everything is shrouded in mystery, and you as the player must discover the truth by exploring the sparse and creepy world presented to you.
In context, this creates a very disjointed journey. While both the gameplay and story are great, they just don’t seem to work together. CroTeam has created a gameplay driven story where the story wants to be first and foremost despite it being placed behind primarily a puzzle-solving experience.
At the very least, the gameplay is inventive and challenging. You begin with fairly simple mechanics, like guiding lights or disabling mines and turrets, which quickly evolves into powering and using fans or recording images of yourself to complete separate tasks. Just when you think you’ve mastered all of the puzzle solving skills you need to progress through the game, another rears its ugly head in your face for you to learn. This constantly evolving gameplay is personally what kept me going through the game.
Unlike its comparative partner Portal, the puzzles themselves don’t bottom out in difficulty either. Whereas Portal settled in around halfway with a challenging but doable set up, The Talos Principle continues to advance in difficulty throughout the entire game, featuring some of the most difficult puzzles I’ve seen in any game to date in the endgame. This acts as a sort of double-edge sword, unfortunately. If you’re here for the story, then you may be deterred from continuing the game. But if you’re here for the puzzles, you’re in for a really fantastic time.
The story itself may or may not appeal to the player as much as the gameplay does. Essentially, you are an unknown entity within what’s assumed to be a virtual world, and the literal voice of God (Or at least someone claiming to be God) tells you to complete puzzles in order to rule the realm you’re located in.
On top of that, there are computer terminals around where you are able to communicate with a mysterious program that enjoys asking you existential and “meaning of life”-type questions. The problem is how disconnected everything feels. Perhaps, that is the full intention of the developers, as by the game’s own admission, the puzzles you’re solving are pointless and are only there as busy work. But, from the player’s perspective, some of the game, especially one of the possible endings, can feel like a mean joke. You want to enjoy the game that’s in front of you, but you are constantly being berated for doing so by the game itself. Even so, completing the game properly is definitely a satisfying experience.
It’s worth mentioning that The Talos Principle: Deluxe Edition is largely the same experience as the PC version, I did encounter a few technical issues. Load times were uncomfortably long, and there were some dips in framerate in some of the more impressive locations. Nothing was game breakingly bad, though. It also looks just as good as the PC version.
The Talos Principle: Deluxe Edition for PlayStation 4 includes the critically acclaimed first-person action puzzle game along with the all new “Road to Gehenna” expansion pack which takes players through some of the most advanced and challenging puzzles yet. Players return to a strange, hidden part of the simulation as Uriel, Elohim’s messenger, and attempt to free the souls trapped in this mysterious place. The ambitious expansion includes four additional episodes with more than twenty new complex puzzles with hours and hours of thought-provoking gameplay sure to challenge even the most experienced Talos Principle veterans.
While the disconnect between gameplay is prevalent in The Talos Principle: Deluxe Edition, it does not detract from the enjoyment of either aspects of the game. While the story may definitely not be for everyone, the gameplay alone makes this worth a look. If you’ve already played through the game on PC, there’s nothing in particular about the PS4 version that makes it worth buying and playing again. However, if this is your first time through, then it certainly is a great way to enjoy the game.
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