In the beginning, there was light. The Talos Principle opens with a peaceful looking, beautifully serene and gentle flight above the clouds - though all is not as it seems. Onscreen text informs us that a program is loading - and it's here that the game's robotic protagonist awakens, in a seemingly deserted, crumbling temple - albeit one with some clearly advanced technology present. An authoritative voice is heard - identifying itself as your maker - and you're immediately given your motivation: seek out Elohim, your creator, in his temple. Prove that you're worthy.
It's a strikingly simple setup and one in which an immediately intriguing series of questions are brought to mind. Who are you? Why are you here? Who is Elohim? What is this place? There are no easy or immediate answers - and not all information found is definitive - but is the journey to find those answers worth embarking upon?
The Talos Principle arrived in 2014 on PC, with console releases being staggered over the next few years. The Switch is the last major platform to receive a port, but it's a testament to the strength of the game that it still feels fresh and unique, five years on from its original release.
There's very little in the way of hand holding in The Talos Principle; it's a first person puzzle game, with progression tied to completing logic puzzles - mostly in a non-linear order - to collect Tetris-esque sigils; these first unlock the temple, which in turn gives you access to a much wider series and variety of tasks, but also allow access to further tools to complete tasks with. If you find yourself stuck on one puzzle or even one 'world', you can always move on to another and return to try again later.
The puzzles themselves start out pretty straightforward, with elements such as lethal security drones or automatic turrets needing to be shut down using jamming devices found in the environment. Despite this simplicity, it can take a little while to wrap your head around the logic of the puzzles, but there's a real satisfaction in completing them, especially as new layers of difficulty or further elements are added beyond the initial tests presented.
Using blocks, light and even playing with time itself all come into play beyond the initial jamming of gates, drones and turrets - though the possibilities and options for completing the 120 puzzles in the main game increase as progress is made, they're smartly layered on at a pace that means they rarely feel overwhelming, even if solutions aren't always immediately apparent.
The story itself is also wonderfully presented; scattered around the worlds are old-fashioned computer terminals, on which clues to what's going on can be found. Given that the first voice you hear identifies itself as Elohim - the Hebrew word for God - it's perhaps unsurprising that there are so many Biblical and theological references and implications found in the details on these terminals. Sometimes the terminals will engage you in a personality test, with no clear right or wrong answers for many of the questions. Adding to this, there's a somewhat philosophical angle to a lot of the information discovered, with QR codes also sporadically found in the game's environments. These QR codes will often reveal quotes of a spiritual or philosophical nature.
If it feels like this is being vague about the specifics of the story in The Talos Principle, that's entirely deliberate; there's so much satisfaction and joy in discovering the beautiful world and the story - which is open to interpretation anyway, in many areas - that it feels wrong to spoil any of it.
Despite the puzzles being integral to progression, at times - with its gorgeous scenery, non-linear exploration and open worlds - The Talos Principle can feel somewhat like a walking simulator. That term can - and is - often used with negative connotations, but here it's certainly not meant that way. It really is a joy to wander around the often lonely, sometimes serene stages - though at times it feels as if a little more direction would be useful.
The soundtrack is wonderful, with a superbly ambient feel. At times, there are Gregorian monk chants too, further adding to the religious undertones in the game's narrative and references.
There's a few very minor issues with the presentation of The Talos Principle on Switch, though these do feel like nitpicking given the overall quality of the game and how well the Switch handles it in general. The frame rate can sometimes be an issue in docked mode - though it never becomes unplayable or even too much of an issue - and the text on computer terminals can often feel somewhat small, particularly in handheld mode. The only other element that I found to be an annoyance was the loading time between stages, which can be somewhat long.
DLC campaign, The Road to Gehenna, is included in the Switch's Deluxe Edition of The Talos Principle - though a word of warning: it's best to complete the main game before starting the DLC, given that it's set towards the end of the original story.
Though mechanically the game feels unique, comparisons can be made to Portal's spacial, environmental puzzles and even - to a lesser extent - Bioshock, particularly from a thematic point of view. The story itself does have multiple endings depending on choices made and it's well worth aiming to see each one.
Croteam, the creators of The Talos Principle, were previously known primarily for their silly (but fun) Serious Sam titles. The Talos Principle shows a remarkable maturity and depth of scope that's perhaps surprising, but in a very good way. It poses interesting questions, allows the player to progress at their own pace - mostly in a non-linear fashion - and is a hugely satisfying piece of game design. Utterly entrancing and highly recommended.
Just a fair warning this game definitely isn't for everyone. You have to be a big fan of slow paced narrative style video games. Also, the writing is definitely the sort of thing that appeals to a particular taste and you will need to do a lot of reading to get the most out of the game. I didn't find it to be nearly as great of an experience as many people implied but that said I can see the great effort that went into it.
So, now that CroTeam has experience in programing the switch, GIVE US SERIOUS SAM <3
@eRaz0r Getting something like Serious Sam Fusion 2017 on the Switch would be incredible. If you aren't familiar that is basically combination of all the past Serious Sam games in one unified package using the same updated engine, kind of a remastering in a sense. Couldn't think of a better way to play the games on the Switch. Until then Immortal Redneck will have to do.
Brilliant game. A definite must-have for fans of the genre. And, because of the multiple endings, it even has a decent amount of replay value.
Definitely one of my next eShop purchases. Really enjoyed Croteam's prior work with the Serious Sam titles, and it's cool they did something different here.
This Nintendo Switch review actually got me pumped to play the game! I hope it runs smoother than Infernium. That game's frame rate was quite jarring at times.
The game is fantastic, but since I played it on Steam, but not finished it, I'll wait for a sale.
Good game... saw it was added to PC Game Pass also.
That is good enough.
Played it some years ago on PS4 and I found it incredibly boring and repetitive... I remember my eyelids getting heavy. I give it a five
This review makes it sound really similar to The Witness, which I thought was great
Petting a cat with a robotic hand? Sounds legit.
Sounds great! Have been hearing good things about this one for a long time. Great to hear it’s a competent port. I loved Portal and The Witness so this seems right up my alley. I just got Luigi’s Mansion 3, so that should keep me busy for a while, but I’ll probably pick this one up next. Great for the holidays when I have some freetime at my Parents’ home where I don’t want to bother bringing another console.
I tweeted the devs to port this in 2017 so delighted that it's finally here, but not so delighted that it's going to make me break my £10 upper limit for eshop purchases. Stick it on a cart and we'll party.
This brings me great hope for Serious Sam on Switch.
Tiny text seems to be a common complaint among Nintendo Lifers lately.
Terminal Font Size can be changed in the Game Options, along with a lot of other things (such as shifting to 3rd person etc.). It doesn't affect the answer buttons but I found that "HUGE" was a good option for hand-held.
I just hope this means we’ll see some Serious Sam games on Switch.
@JayJ I second this comment
Elohim (Hebrew: אֱלֹהִים [ʔɛloːˈhim]) is a word in the Hebrew Bible, which sometimes means deities in the plural, and elsewhere refers to a single deity, particularly (but not always) the Jewish God.
Seems like this game is not halal.
One of the greatest puzzlers ever made as far as I'm concerned. Played it at least once every year since it came out. Find new things to love about it every time. Absolutely going to triple dip with this one.
Very interesting to note that a lot of the concepts in this game and names referenced in the dialogue are eerily similar to those of Soma, to the point that I consider Soma a spiritual prequel to this game. Would highly recommend anyone interested in either game try playing them back to back, Soma first. Likely pure coincidence but the levels of overlap are uncanny.
Very tempted after reading these comments. Generally like these games, and the kids would enjoy them as well .. and it should look great on the news 75'' TV
So I kept getting a Myst vibe from the preview trailer of this game. However, the reviewer referenced two other games which I haven’t played either. This looks like something I would enjoy and have been looking forward to on the switch, but also something I need to be in the mood for. I guess Merry Christmas to myself!
really good game. atmosphere.
if you like Portal series, this smash you.
@tyk007 Oooh, I didn't know that. Thanks a lot, my eyes will be very grateful
I love this game! Yesterday the solution to one of the levels suddenly occurred to me at work. I love the feeling when my brain is processing a problem at the back of my mind while I'm thinking about other stuff and then comes up with the answer almost subconsciously. The last time that happened was with the original Lemmings, I think. I literally solved a Lemmings level while asleep.
70% off rn, had to try it!
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