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GOL Cast: Exploring Consciousness In The Talos Principle

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Among all of the games that were released recently was this first person puzzle game with an interesting concept and gorgeous graphics and ever since playing the demo I knew I'd have to feature it on GOL. So, let's get to the good stuff!

The Talos Principle is a first person puzzle game made by Croteam and indie game developers Tom Jubert and Jonas Kyratzes where you play as an artificial intelligence in virtual world dominated by an apparently omnipotent being called Elohim. Elohim has sent you out to complete various puzzles without any clear directions or reason and the only piece of advice you are given is to avoid “the Tower” in which you would only find death.

So you wander through the three temples, completing puzzles and obtaining puzzle pieces in the process, which you then use to unlock new areas and components for future puzzles.

You can very easily notice multiple similarities between The Talos Principle and the famous Portal games. In both games you are guided through various rooms that contain puzzles of varying difficulty levels guided by a great and somewhat distant character who only interacts with you through voice.

In The Talos Principle the focus is on relaxed puzzle solving and each puzzle plays out a bit differently. In some puzzles you need to connect lasers from a power source to receivers in a particular order and other times you need to use devices called “jammers” to disable various systems like moving proximity mines, walls and turrets to access the end of the puzzle. At the end of each puzzle you will find a “tetris block” which you then use to unlock more stuff.

The game introduces the various puzzle mechanics to you one by one. First you only have your jammers but after completing a couple of puzzles you have collected enough tetris blocks to unlock the next mechanic, the connector which you use to direct laser beams from sources to receivers. Then you complete a couple of puzzles using both of these mechanics, unlock more mechanics and eventually whole new areas. Introducing mechanics gradually feels rewarding and it also makes it easier to learn them properly before moving on to move complex levels.

The level structure in The Talos Principle is quite nonlinear, which isn't that common in puzzle games. The whole game consists of three temples (and the Tower) which all contain around 7 levels and each level contains approximately 5 puzzles. You can access all of the puzzles in any order you'd like though you are limited by the mechanics and temples you've unlocked. So you can't go to temple C from temple A immediately or complete the puzzles that require you to unlock more devices but as long as you have unlocked the necessary components you can do basically whatever you wish. This also means that if you encounter a puzzle you can't seem to be able to figure out you can just skip it and try other puzzles and eventually come back to the puzzle you found too difficult on the first try and the game actually urges you to do so. So even if you get stuck in puzzle you are not completely stuck in the game and you don't need to get frustrated. This of course also means that the game can sometimes throw extemely difficult levels between easier ones, so don't be too shocked if you suddenly encounter a very tricky level after completing two levels in record time.

Even though most of the focus is on the puzzles, The Talos Principle also tells a story though not through cutscenes or face-to-face dialog. Instead it has audio logs and computer terminals spread throughout the levels. The computer terminals and audio logs are like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, they might not be in a chronological order. The story is actually quite deep and handles philosophical topics such as consciousness and humanity if you just bother listening through the audio logs and reading the things on the terminals.

After playing the Portal games I was sure no other puzzle game would come even close to them in terms of interesting game mechanics and a good story, but The Talos Principle blew them out of the water. It's beautiful, the story is interesting and the puzzles are extremely well designed. Really the only thing I have some complaints about is the performance though in my opinion the game looks good enough to justify occasional frame drops. The Talos Principle is probably the best game I've played this year and I absolutely recommend it to everyone who enjoys puzzle games like Portal and has a fairly decent gaming rig to handle it.

Not convinced yet? Try the free Public Test and experience the core game mechanics yourself:

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About the author -
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I'm a Linux gamer from Finland. I like reading, long walks on the beach, dying repeatedly in roguelikes and ripping and tearing in FPS games. I also sometimes write code and sometimes that includes hobbyist game development.
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LK901 23 Dec, 2014
What counts as powerful? :P
Samsai 23 Dec, 2014
Quoting: LK901How powerful a rig do you need? :P
I guess clarifying my specs would be a good idea to do. :P

I can't max it out on my Intel i5 2500k @ 3.33 GHz + GTX 760 machine without frequent frame drops. After dropping everything down to High from Ultra I can maintain a mostly solid 60 FPS experience with occasional drops to 30.
zimplex1 23 Dec, 2014
This is my game of the year pick for sure!
wolfyrion 23 Dec, 2014
I stuck in one puzzle and can't solve it YET!!

It drives me crazy !!! I even sometimes hit my head on my monitor trying to find a solution to this puzzle!

I REFUSE to go through a walkthrough as many people do these days :P

It may take me days , weeks , months, years to solve it but one day I will!!!

It kinda reminds me the old days where internet was hard to get in order to find a walkthrough , took me weeks or months to finish some games like Laura Bow and the Dagger of Amon Ra or Monkey Island 2 hhehe good times ^_^
StianTheDark 23 Dec, 2014
coeseta 24 Dec, 2014
This will also be my game of the year. The game is awesome and was totally worth the prize in my opinion.
faceless 24 Dec, 2014
This is my GOTY too. And to think it came from the studio responsible for the serious sam mindless killing fps. Now they release this beautiful sci-fi philosophical puzzle game ...
lucifertdark 24 Dec, 2014
I want this one but £27-£30 is just a little out of my price range at the moment.
LK901 24 Dec, 2014
There is no way my miserly laptop would even run it on lowest settings D:

Can't wait till I get my new gaming PC...
flesk 24 Dec, 2014
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Quoting: LK901There is no way my miserly laptop would even run it on lowest settings D:

Can't wait till I get my new gaming PC...

I'm running it on my two year old mid-range laptop just fine, but I definitely recommend checking out the free public test first to make sure. I have a GeForce GT 630M with 2 GB dedicated RAM and I get a stable 40+ FPS with mouse sensitivity turned down, and I consider that perfectly satisfactory, but of course it depends on personal preferences.

Really enjoying the game so far, and it's up there among my top five games this year, and it's the only high budget game on the list.
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