Review: The Talos Principle: Deluxe Edition (PS4)

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Title: The Talos Principle: Deluxe Edition
Format: Blu-ray Disc / PlayStation Network Download (4.8 GB)
Release Date: October 13, 2015
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Developer: Croteam
Original MSRP: $49.99 (US), €39.99 (EU), £32.99 (UK)
ESRB Rating: E
PEGI: 7
The Talos Principle: Deluxe Edition is also available on PC, Mac, Linux, iOS, and Android.
The PlayStation 4 download version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

From a Croatian developer that goes by the simple name of Croteam, we have a pretty PS4 puzzler. It has a penchant for blue and red beams of light and a God-like being that really doesn’t want you to go near the gigantic tower in the middle. No really, DON’T go near the tower.

Gameplay:
You begin in an ancient looking world long since forgotten, ruined buildings and statues lay nestled amongst the tranquil desolate landscape. Only a soft breeze breaks the eerie stillness. You quickly realize that you are all alone.

When I say alone that isn’t strictly true. As I alluded to earlier, there is a God-like being that occasionally speaks to you as you journey between progressively more difficult puzzles collecting tetromino shaped sigils that combine together allowing access to another area or device.

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The game is a strange mixture of an ancient landscape patrolled by technologically advanced machines and what loosely resembles one of the first Apple computers which acts as an information and administrative terminal for each location. You’ll discover the other side to this game at those terminals. Through preset answers to a wide variety of questions and surveys, you’ll gain insight into the story behind it all.

You can simply just ignore the ‘blipping & beeping’ sounds from the hubs dotted throughout the game and the ominously omnipotent being telling you what to do. However, disregarding those means you’ll miss out on some clever writing and a deeper understanding of the game.

… the overwhelming satisfaction of finally figuring out a tricky problem …
Now for the main draw of The Talos Principle, the puzzles. Your goal is to collect the sigils that I mentioned earlier by completing spatial puzzles that are governed by logic. They become very complex later in the game but are simplistic and casual in the first half. With different colors signifying a difficulty level and optional hidden stars to collect, you are more or less free to tackle them in your own order.

Most puzzles entail avoiding sentry drones and guns, directing beams of red or blue lights with prisms to unlock gates, weighing down pressure pads, and plenty more that I’ll let you discover on your own. You can get help from QR codes painted onto walls and restart if you get stuck, which is hard but not impossible to do.

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While the various things you have to do in each puzzle area increases and they’re fun, there is a small amount of repetition that creeps in. It’s not enough to spoil the experience but it’s there nevertheless. What counters the repetition is the overwhelming satisfaction of finally figuring out a tricky problem.

A word of warning as this PS4 version features the Road to Gehenna expansion as standard which is playable instantly from the main menu. I urge you to wait until you finish the main game before playing it.

… a level of believability not often seen in games of this ilk …
Remote play on the Vita is great and very easy thanks to the alternative controller layout of ‘Standard V’ which negates the L2 button and is a perfectly acceptable way of playing on both systems. In fact I would say switch to that layout before you ever play the game and it’ll never feel alien when you switch to the Vita later on when the kids/partner/dog want to watch the TV.

You play in the first person perspective but fear not, the levels are brilliantly laid out so you very rarely get discombobulated. Movement and performing actions are quick and very smooth thanks to a lovely frame rate.

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Visuals:
The game is filled with beautifully peaceful and relaxing areas that can look almost photorealistic. This is probably because the developers actually scanned in real world objects and places and it shows, with a level of believability not often seen in games of this ilk. Almost every area allows for exploration and wandering from the dirt or cobbled paths but it seems to either hide no collectibles or secrets, or hides them a little too well?

The use of advanced technology among the desolate ruins gives a stark contrast to one another and magnifies the philosophical questions of our past and present times found buried in the game. The graphical fidelity in The Talos Principle is great and only purposely falters to accentuate the developer’s vision.

… a crescendo of brain-aching fun …
Audio:
A few calm and relaxing audio tracks with peaceful melodies fit the game perfectly. Gregorian chanting monks are also included to accompany some music which also helps to set the calm mood. You can often hear but never see some crickets and birds during certain areas and then there is the domineering God-like voice that echoes from behind the curtain up on high, reminding me of a really old classic Hollywood movie.

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Online/Multiplayer:
This game is single-player only with no online component.

Conclusion:
The Talos Principle is an intelligent puzzle game which gives you choices about the order in which you approach the puzzles and the philosophical questions it asks during your journey.

It can in some ways feel like two separate but complementary experiences, both make you exercise the brain. First off is the obvious puzzle gameplay that seems simple and easy at first but culminates in a crescendo of brain-aching fun. Then there’s the somewhat optional philosophy component that’s dished out from the archaic computer hubs. These allow for preset answers to questions and surveys begging you to consider deep and thought-provoking questions on humanity.

The Talos Principle gives a glimpse into the frailty of our own history, the history we will leave behind, and the importance and measurement of life itself, but it’s never forced upon you and can just simply be a great puzzle game for anyone to enjoy.

Score:
8.5

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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