Now Playing: The Talos Principle (2014)

Well, this was unexpected. I popped this in the other day thinking it would be something quick that I could blow through in a day or two, as is usually the case with this kind of first person physics puzzle game, but it ended up taking almost two weeks instead.

The Talos Principle, to put it in simple terms, is a story about a robot doing crazy puzzles in a virtual world to please a mysterious cybergod. Along the way you will be bombarded with text documents and conversations with “the serpent”, who you only ever meet in a series of DOS-like chats on various terminals, that slowly detail the history of this PUZZLING simulation and force you to think about and question the nature of consciousness and humanity, as well as making plenty of unavoidable parallels to religion. Also you have to pick up and put down a whole lot of things, but you’re a robot so you’re great at that.

Aside from this being the longest puzzle game I’ve ever played, by a huge amount, it was also the most complicated. Puzzles get ridiculously intricate before too long. After a certain point they’re not even really puzzles anymore, you’re basically designing circuitry by hand. Luckily, that’s something I actually have experience with so I was able to make it through most of them without too much trouble. I’m not saying they were easy still, but I could at least usually tell what it was I was supposed to be trying to do. Actually constructing the circuit of devices needed to meet your goal could still be pretty trying though, even if you knew what the general concept should be. Probably the most difficult thing about it was the game’s tendency to hit you with counter-intuitive obstacles, where you would end up finding out that the solution involved using devices in ways you were never told about or even in ways that would seem to contradict previously established rules of how things work in the virtual world.

ESPECIALLY when it came to finding the secret stars throughout the game. Most of these are so well hidden that you can’t find most of them unless you are methodically scouring every inch of the various environments, most of which are just made up of empty, pointless spaces outside of the puzzle areas. Some of them are in such obscure locations that I don’t even understand how anyone could possibly have found them on their own at all. Look at this one below. You have to get to the 5th floor of this tower, climb out on random ledge, go to the exact right spot on the ledge, and jump off the tower into a small hole in the roof of a building down at ground level that you can’t even see from where you are.

The sad part is, the special ending you get for doing all the extra work to get those extra stars is actually the worst ending, leaving you trapped in the virtual world forever to act as a giver of clues to future puzzle robots. Hooray!

Anyway though, frustrating stars aside, it’s a pretty interesting game with a huge amount of content for what it is and a fascinating story if you have the patience for all the text and unbelievably convoluted puzzling. Also worth mentioning: this was made by the same people who make the Serious Same games? Weird.

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