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Uncover the Secrets of a Futuristic World in ‘The Talos Principle II’

Explore a post-humanity world where androids are the only intelligent life
“The Talos Principle II” is a massive puzzle game that takes place 1000 years after the saga’s first entry.
Rating: A-
Photo Credit: Croteam

One thousand years ago, a new kind of humanity emerged, becoming the new caretakers of the Earth. They were created by The Founder, a god-like being revered by the new race. The Founder also founded New Jerusalem, a mega-city that housed 1000 of these unique new mechanical “humans”. The culmination of The Founder’s plan unfolds when the final human to be born, “1K”, awakens.

The Talos Principle” was a title I was completely unfamiliar with, and I just came across the game when browsing the PlayStation store. The remarkable cover of an android facing a grand statue of Prometheus and the fact that the game was on sale interested me, so I went for it. I don’t usually seek out purely puzzle-solving games, but I still wanted to give it a try. 

The game immediately thrusts players into an area modeled after Ancient Egypt, complete with dazzling tombs and expressive hieroglyphs. Elohim, a disembodied voice, acts as a guide and reveals more about the world as you complete more puzzles. In the tutorial, the player is tasked with retrieving sigils to open doors. Players can only reach the sigils after completing puzzles in designated areas. The puzzles are solved by connecting or moving the various puzzle components such as blocks, fans, and lasers into specific alignments to open a laser-guarded door.

The tutorial puzzles were a little challenging, but the sigils were easy to obtain overall. After opening all the doors with the sigils, players awaken as “1k” and are greeted by a “human” who tells the story of The Founder, of how New Jerusalem came to be, and how you are the last human. After that, “1K” has two options: either roam the expansive dome of a city and communicate with the other unique humans, or begin the first mission right away. When exploring the city, there are many dialogue options available with the many humans. You can talk about slang and the complexities of language with Purple (Human #998), or converse about the thrills of adventure and humanities infinite curiosity with Byron (Human #7).

The first mission takes “1K” to a mysterious island covered in lush forests with a giant pyramid structure smack dab in the center, simply nicknamed the “Megastructure”. On this expedition, the player must complete different puzzles all around the island to get files which reveal more information about the Megastructure. A crew of three other humans also come along for the journey, but they just wander around the island waiting for “1K” to interact with them.

The first few puzzles were easy enough, and I was able to solve them in under a minute. But just as soon as I started to get confident in my abilities, I hit a roadblock. One specific puzzle involving connecting an intricate array of lasers and RGB connectors (tools that change the colors of lasers) completely stumped me. I was pulling at my hair in frustration because for the first time, I really couldn’t find a solution. I decided to sleep on it, and I was able to figure it out shortly after waking up by moving one of the laser connectors. That wouldn’t be the last time I nearly rage quit over being absolutely stuck, but the frustration always seems to wash away after that final door is unlocked.

Exploring the city and the system to interact with the other humans gave me flashbacks to the Fallout Series. It even zooms in on the person’s face with all the text options below like Fallout. The conversations are mostly philosophical in nature, and many of them left me questioning what it meant to be human. One particular conversation with Dosikles (Human #299) had a profound impact on me. When discussing where we find meaning in life, Dosikles proposed that we find meaning in Love. He says it is “our only way of transcending ourselves without losing what makes us unique.” The city is chalk-full of interactions like these, and they are a great pastime between missions.

This perfect combination of head-scratching puzzles and an AI-centered story reminded me also of the Portal games, Portal 2 especially. These are some of my favorite games of all time and I just couldn’t help but reminisce on my misadventure playing Valve’s masterpieces while trekking through the puzzles in this game. While there aren’t any portal mechanics in the game, the Portal games clearly inspired many features such as the blocks, buttons, and fans.

The Croteam staff really outdid themselves. With a team of under 50 people and only the “Serious Sam” series under their belt, they managed to craft a landscape and visuals that rival even high-budget triple-A game titles. With the expansive forests and complex city structures, it’s hard to believe the game isn’t a part of the catalog of a big-budget game developer.

The unbounded worlds and fury-inducing puzzles of “The Talos Principle 2” continue to grip me in its chokehold. I want to throw my controller across the room multiple times, the game always manages to pull me back in. Be prepared to grit your teeth trying to solve the seemingly impossible puzzles, but the feeling of satisfaction after completing them is an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything. This game truly is truly an exhilarating experience that I recommend to all puzzle-seekers and those who want to take a peek into a fantastical future.

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