The Turing Test. If you are unaware of what the real Turing test is, fear not! This game will not only explain it, but tasks you with completing a version of it yourself. Before I get too far into the review, I want to just explain the situation this game has put me in. To put it bluntly, I tried to find something wrong with this game. I attempted to trigger glitches, confuse game systems, and even force the game to trap me.
NOTHING I tried worked. Even after a playthrough and a half, I could not find a fault in this game. My point is that if you’re even slightly interested in this game, you may as well just buy it and start enjoying. For the purpose of my review I will be explaining why I praise every aspect of this game in the order that I came to my conclusion of each. Buckle up, it’s going to be a long one. Even if it’s long, I will still be trying my hardest to avoid any story spoilers.
As soon as the The Turing Test has our protagonist, Ava, open her eyes, players are greeted with a highly detailed and very impressive room. I will admit that at this point, I was concerned the game would not be able to maintain such an enchanting appearance through and through. I was wrong about this because The Turing Test looks amazing from start to finish. A few examples of this would be the crazy amount of detail in things such as reflective surfaces, windows, and lights. This dedication to detail is evident in the care the voice actors took to seamlessly mesh with the characters they are meant to portray. On a side/personal note: THANK YOU Bulkhead Interactive for giving our protagonist a voice, it makes the game so much better than what it would have been. Without spoiling anything, Ava speaks to T.O.M., an A.I., throughout most of the game. These conversations help define Ava’s character throughout the game enough to make even a person as cynical as myself care about her plight.
Soon after meeting T.O.M., Ava comes across a tool that allows her to transfer energy from one source and shoot it into another. At this point (if you’re anything like me) I started to get this feeling like I was playing a Portal lookalike. I mean, I had an A.I. watching me complete puzzle rooms with a special piece of equipment that allows my protagonist to perform feats that were otherwise impossible. Even though I thought that for a good portion of the game, if I look back now, I realize this game manages to do something Portal could not do. What I’m saying is The Turing Test made me think.
Portal was a wonderful game with many aspects that (arguably) changed the video game world for the better. In fact both Portal and it’s sequel were funny through and through with many unique aspects. But never once did either game make me sit back and contemplate abstract or complicated concepts. Thought provoking video games do exist, but there’s not that many that do everything else as well as The Turing Test. This point about the game being thought-provoking came to me when I went back and solved the games first optional challenge. Without giving away the answer, I had to use information from a conversation our two main characters had. Once I realized I used that information without even knowing it, I simply couldn’t believe what this game had done.
By having the controls of the game be simple while keeping the puzzles complex and challenging, I was left using some lateral thinking while I listened to every conversation that came my way. This sort of easy to learn gameplay meshes perfectly with the entire theme of the game as it leaves the difficulty to be in the mind of the player. Personally, I was able to complete the 7 chapters of the game (10 sectors each) and the 7 optional challenge rooms. As players progress through the various chapters of the game, they will be faced with new ways to complete puzzles such as different types of energy or devices that can be used to move things or reach places. This leads directly back into the difficulty being in the player’s mind as players will have to figure out which item to use where and which technique to use in order to reach their goal. Sometimes players will have to use the tried and true while other times players will have to figure out an entirely new way of completing the puzzle.
Fairly early in the game, Ava will come across information about ‘the ground crew’. These people are very important to the story and will be in most conversations throughout the game. Outside of these conversations, players can learn more about these characters by reading tablets and listening to audio logs. Normally, I’d hate this because I feel like this is lazy way to convey story and feeling between characters. The difference in The Turing Test is that these sources of information are crafted with care and thought. Every one of them is important or thought-provoking or even both. If any of these sources isn’t expanding on a character or multiple characters’ relationship, it is explaining a concept that seems to have inspired the game.
After spending quite a bit of time reading/listening about/to the ground crew, I began to feel like something was a bit off. I won’t explain exactly when I got the feeling, but I will say that it seemed Ava was reading my mind because her words and how she delivered them seemed disturbed. This kind of pacing is wonderful and can only be accomplished by a team that thinks like the player. On top of what Ava started to do, even the game’s music seemed to take on a more ominous tone that only became more and more fitting throughout the chapters of the game.
I could go on and on about this game. I may get some hate for this, but I personally put this game above Portal itself. A game being funny is one thing and has many merits of its own. On the other hand though, a game that teaches you something and makes you think (while looking, sounding, and playing gorgeously) is even more valuable in my mind. From the puzzles reflecting ideas, concepts, and even past conversations to the optional rooms requiring lateral thinking that is brought up several sectors after the room that needs it, The Turing Test truly will test you. I personally do not believe there are ‘perfect’ games, but if I were the judge that decided if The Turing Test could pass as one, I’d have a hard time making up my mind.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox One code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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