The Talos Principle – PAX Prime 2014 Impressions

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When I was told that The Talos Principle was made by the developers of the Serious Sam franchise, Croteam, I was a little shocked. Serious Sam is an over the top twitchy first person shooter and The Talos Principle only has the first person perspective in common with that franchise. It started as a game jam for new puzzle mechanics for Serious Sam but Croteam soon discovered these mechanics could be their own game and The Talos Principle was born. Accompanied by a mysterious story this philosophical puzzle game looks to challenge players in more ways than just the puzzles.

The game is set in a beautiful world with large vistas sectioned off with various puzzles leaving the player’s motivations to explore and complete puzzles coming from a mysterious voice. We are not told who the voice is or where the voice is coming from and the member of the development team walking me through the demo refused to give any hints other than a shrug. So listening to this mysterious voice and finding its origin was all I needed as motivation to continue the demo hoping the next completed puzzle would enlighten me more on what the hell was going on.

The puzzle mechanics shown off in the game involved lasers and tripod reflectors as I tried to connect various lasers to their corresponding color ports. These mechanics may sound simple, but trying to connect various lasers with nothing more than a cube to assist me made the puzzles challenging as they increased in difficulty through easy, medium, and hard. One puzzle I remember vividly involved connecting a red laser and a blue laser to their respective ports without having them cross paths. I walked around the area for a bit beginning to sweat as I knew I had spent too long already so after getting a small hint from the developer I figured out that moving the tripod to the top of the cube I made the laser reach a higher elevation which was enough for it to connect to its port without crossing paths with the other laser. Suddenly I was hit with an “a-ha” moment along with the facepalm feeling. And this was just one puzzle mechanic for a game that will feature a couple more different mechanics and nearly 15 hours of gameplay.

Another aspect of the game I was able to mess with really quickly before my appointment ended was a lone computer terminal that looked completely out of place from anything else in the world. As I approached this terminal I was prompted with questions. This is where answers to the story may be found as I was given different choices on how I wanted to dig up information such as dialogue trees with the terminal or finding story tidbits through documents. Questions asked were along the lines of who I was and why I was playing the game and answers to these questions were not given in the brief time I had with the game. What was presented in this section was intriguing to say the least and I wanted to dig more and more since the mysterious voice had piqued my interest and I wanted to know all I could about this mysterious world.

The Talos Principle is aiming to be a philosophical puzzle adventure that challenges the player’s beliefs and philosophies by reflecting those back at them or having them take those ideas out of their experience with the game. Now this is a tall order that not many games have tinkered with and it will be interesting to see if it can succeed on some level. The Talos Principle launches later this year on PlayStation 4 and PC.

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