It’s very rare that a game comes around that makes you stop to think about the world around you — even after you’ve stopped playing. But that’s what The Talos Principle: Deluxe Edition does and more. What comes off on the surface as a simple first-person puzzle game quickly begins to build a mythology (by using mythology, actually) around the reasons for the over 120 puzzles that need to be solved to discover the secret of this mysterious world. The player — playing as a sentient robot — is guided by the booming voice of Elohim, who prods us along the journey, puzzle by puzzle, and computer terminals and QR codes hidden throughout each level fill in the back story of the how and why, but also flesh out other aspects of The Talos Principle.
After booting up the game and getting your robotic feet wet in the beautifully lush forest world, The Talos Principle really begins to shine. It tricks you with the ease of the first few puzzles — which basically ask you to move this object there, avoid the trap, collect the prize — a tetris-like block called a sigil. As the game goes on, and new abilities/tools are unlocked and new worlds open up, including a sand-filled world based on Egyptian mythology, the various pieces of information that the player has been collecting via the computer terminals begins to make sense.
And while The Talos Principle is, at its very heart, a puzzle game, there are some events that happen in the latter half that almost turn the story into an RPG — where player choice comes into play, which I felt was an amazing execution by developer Croteam (Serious Sam) and Devolver Digital. The way the game is laid out, as well as the reward system that is used to push the narrative forward are both perfectly balanced. I would find myself booting up the game to play a few puzzles, and then I would look at the clock and realize that two hours had gone by. The drive to keep going — to solve one more puzzle — is very powerful, and that’s what really pushes The Talos Principle into very rarified air.
While the puzzle elements and the game story are two very key components to the greater goodness that is The Talos Principle, the art direction is also very important. This is absolutely one of the best looking games on the PS4, hands-down. The lighting effects and the smallest details help to really create a visual world worth playing in, and as the day turns to night, and the weather changes, and of course, the new worlds open up, nothing seems to be reused and it keeps the game feeling fresh.
The last true key component of what makes this game so incredible is the music. Some levels can be solved very quickly, even later in the game, but there are others that will take some thinking. The music serves to keep the player calm as they trial-and-error their way through some of the tougher puzzles — the ones that demand the use of more than one tool or skill sets. The score here is epic as it is serene, and is near-perfectly paired with a game like this.
Rounding out The Talos Principle is the stellar voice acting (not just Elohim, who will boom down his voice, demanding that you move on if you spend too much tim with a puzzle — or are attempting a puzzle that you cannot solve yet), but in the audio files that the player collects from the employees and researchers that make up the backstory of the game. This completes the five pillars of what makes a really good game a great game: story, challenge, graphics, music, and voice acting, and The Talos Principle earns high marks on each.
The Talos Principle: Deluxe Edition on the Playstation 4 also includes the expansion pack, “Road to Gehanna,” which was a DLC add-on when the game hit PCs last year. This expansion gives the player a new world to solve, making this truly a deluxe version of a game that many may have played on PC in the past.
The Talos Principle: Deluxe Edition is one of those games that draws the player in and keeps them entertained. The simple ideas of the puzzles, and the backdrop of the story — with a good measure of real-world philosophy thrown in to both complicate and ease things — separates this game from others like it — if there are others like it. This is a wonderful game that has stayed with me long after playing, and will continue to haunt me (good and bad) for the foreseeable future.
The Talos Principle: Deluxe Edition is available now for the PS4. This review is based off a review code provided by the publisher.
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