I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe
First of all, I didn’t finish the game. I don’t consider myself smart enough to solve all the puzzles. That said, while I won’t jump to conclusions, I want to be clear enough: this game is not for dummies. Every game should be made under the principle that anyone can see the end. I couldn’t. I got to a level of frustration that made me ragequit, and I hardly ever do that. But, being earnest, for the first time in my life, I ragequit to myself.
GAME: The Talos Principle
You see, I believe that I’m fairly intelligent person. I’m not a brainiac, and I wouldn’t compare my IQ with Einstein, but it’s fair to say that I’m not a doofus, and, in the past, I enjoyed a lot of video games like ‘The Talos Principle’, like ‘Portal’ and ‘The Swapper’. With Valve’s creation, ‘The Talos Principle’ shares the physiques-like puzzles of discovering how to get from one point to another. With ‘The Swapper’, while one is FPS and the other 2D platformer, shares the writer.
Tom Jubert, freelance writer of ‘The Swapper’ and ‘The Talos Principle’ goes by the motto ‘Keep it simple, make it speak’. Well great for you Tom. I didn’t catch that.
‘The Talos Principle’ made my brain feel like a stupid. It literally caught fire. And it wasn’t the game’s fault. I just grew up these kinds of games. I don’t have the patience anymore, so yeah, it’s I who is to be blamed. There are probably out there a lot of kids who are having a great time playing this wonderful game and beating the crap out of those made in hell puzzles. I had a moment of joy and surprise when I first started the game. Then… only tears.
Talos, in Greek mythology, was a giant man of bronze who protected a woman of high lineage called Europa, for whom the continent Europe was named, in the island of Crete. In the game, we are some kind of robot, which is partially equivalent to that, even when we are not named. A godlike voice (with echo and reverb of course) that answers to the name of ‘Elohim’ (God in Hebrew) says we are his creation and with no further ado he pushes to the puzzles in an open environment that looks like an island (hey, like Crete!) under the beautiful hot sun (like in the Mediterranean!). Here and there we find computers with AI that explain us things and have archives to download that progressively tells us a story.
Apparently, at some moment in the past, Earth’s global warming melted the Permafrost releasing an unstoppable virus that terminated all human life. Well fuck me right?
Before our fatalities, a group of scientist and researchers uploaded all human knowledge for further discovering by whomever.
We, along those texts and logs, also find audio entries from an engineer called Alexandra and through the computer terminals we are able to chat with Milton. Both of them work as ‘plot explainers’. And they are really appreciated.
Over 120 puzzles scattered all over the levels can’t be wrong. I’m a donkey.
The structure, while simple enough, is tricky as hell. The objective of every stage is to get the ‘sigils’, objects that look like ‘Tetris’ pieces. And they look like that because that’s exactly what they are. The correct word is ‘Tetromino’ or a geometric shape composed of four squares.
Where do we get these sigils? At the end of maze-like environments have force fields that prohibit us the trespassing and are plagued with explosive drones and vigilant turrets that will only die if we scrambled them with the Jammers. These apparatus (‘must be unearthed’) are scarce and hidden through the maps because what would be the problem if not, amirite? we need to get the Jammers and find out how to use them to get to the ‘sigils’ without dying. If we die, we go right to the beginning of that puzzle. It’s not linear so we can try to solve other levels if we got stuck but to end the game we must solve all of them.
As we advance, new objects appear to solve the riddles and sometimes, even clones of ourselves (like The Swapper!).
I’m not kidding when I say that I ragequit. I did. I’m not proud, but I can’t afford another mouse right now, and I really dig my keyboard.
The Everything Else
Croteam, the people behind the beautiful ‘Serious Sam’ saga joined Jubert and Jonas Kyratzes (writer of Infinite Ocean) to make ‘The Talos Principle’ and it paid well. The Croatian based developers wanted to make a visually stunning video game that made us feel smart. In my case it’s exactly the opposite. I never felt dumber. Again, my bad.
The visual style is preciosist and you can switch between a good number of options and even color palettes (well contrasted grey-scale…). This was achieved with great usage of the Serious 4 Engine. The game, even with medium end computers runs smooth like water. You’ll be surprised of some irregular glitches and sound burps. Don’t worry; those are part of the game and the story.
The soundtrack was composed by Damjan Mravunac and combines church organs with heavenly choirs that takes me to ‘Meddle’ and ‘Obscured by the Clouds’ of Pink Floyd. The music reminds me of some parts of Blade Runner and perhaps that’s the angle Mravunac was going for. Overall, is sad and beautiful.
The Talos Principle is a long game with a tremendous story, beautiful visuals, awesome soundtrack and fucking hard puzzles. It completely earns it keep. The 40 bucks price tag for this game is a bargain even when you’ll get stuck a lot, and it’s a worthy successor of both ‘Portal’ saga and ‘The Swapper’.
I don’t know if you will remember Talos or Elohim (or Milton or Alexandra) as you remember things like ‘The cake is a lie’. Part of understanding the world around you involves understanding you know absolutely nothing. So, step into the light child, and embrace the puzzles.