The Talos Principle PC review | PCGamesN

The Talos Principle PC review

The Talos principle pc review croteam

You may know Croteam as makers of Serious Sam, the games about shooting massive guns at enemies with bombs for hands. Well, they've now made a first-person puzzle game which questions the essential role of consciousness in humanity. Who'd have thought it? And if you did think it, does that prove your humanity? Or could your brain just be a big collection of programmed thoughts?

The Talos Principle is Portal without the jokes.

The Talos Principle started life as an experiment. Croteam had grown bored of the way Serious Sam used locked doors. Players had to kill all the enemies in an area until one of them dropped a coloured key which they would then use on the correctly coloured door. They wanted something more engaging. They experimented with forcefields that could be deactivated with jamming devices and laser beam relays that you could direct into sockets and deactivate barriers. They even made a system where you could record a copy of yourself and play it back as a hologram, letting you essentially solve a puzzle in co-op with yourself.

Croteam took all those experiments, took out the guns and enemies, and turned that into The Talos Principle.

The Talos principle pc review croteam

Talos starts off slow, with puzzles based solely around jammers. The tool looks like a video camera on a tripod and whatever electrical system you point it at deactivates – be it forcefield, suicide drone, or machine gun turret. You'll be solving those in under a minute.

When you're given relays things become more complex. Some puzzles have power nodes latched onto the wall, some emit power and others receive it. You can use relays to link the in nodes with the out nodes by a laserbeam. You can chain relays together, too, guiding the beam through a maze of corners. However, there are different coloured nodes, red and blue, and a relay can only carry one colour, so later puzzles have you trying to power down multiple forcefields with multiple beams without crossing any of the streams.

As more tools are added to your arsenal the puzzles become more complicated. Croteam have made some absolutely brilliant puzzles in Talos. They constantly have you rethinking how you can use the tools you have available. You'll often find yourself having to take a step back and try to look at the puzzle room with fresh eyes to find the solution.

The Talos principle pc review croteam

The world's made up of multiple linked hubs: there's three hub worlds that each contain teleporters to seven different islands loaded up with at least five puzzles apiece. On top of that, there's a central hub with a seven story tall tower, filled with puzzles, too. If you complained about Portal's brevity then Talos is for you.

On its puzzles alone, Talos is excellent and will give you hours of fevered puzzle solving. It's the things that are wrapped round that core that let it down.

Leading you through Talos' puzzles are two characters Elohim and Milton. Elohim is a voice that booms down from the sky and claims to be God; Milton is a software assistant that you type messages to via computer terminals. Elohim tells you he created this world to test you and give you purpose while Milton quizzes you on what's essential to being human. It's a po-faced treatise on consciousness and humanity and it doesn't fit the game.

The puzzles you solve feel completely disconnected to this overreaching story and the themes it's discussing. Unlike Portal, whose characters are actually part of the world, Elohim and Milton are outside it. To talk to Milton you have to access a retro computer and read walls of texts, completely taking you out of the action of the core game.

The Talos principle pc review croteam

While the puzzles are great the game feels like a developer build. The team have reused artwork and sounds from the Serious Sam games, giving everything a place-holder feel. The layout of hubs, teleporters, and puzzles rooms dotted about the place feels haphazard, like a developer's test environment. You could reason it away behind a story of a testing God but it doesn't make it any more fun to play.

The real problem is that Talos suffers in comparisons. While Portal was just a series of connected puzzle chambers it always felt that a developer was leading you through it. The Talos Principle feels like boxes within boxes, left by the developer for you to play in.


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Dog Pants avatarMountain_Man avatarMozalbete avatarThinkIndieGames avatarTheTitaniumDragon avatarmike_lang avatar
Mozalbete Avatar
Mozalbete(3 days 15 hours played)
3 Years ago

I feel like the only criticism I read is "it's not Portal". A puzzle game having an open world isn't bad at all. Characters not being portal characters isn't bad either. You don't explain why the themes of the story don't fit the game.

When a puzzles games has excellent, great puzzles and is long, it deserves more than a 6 because it's not Portal.

TheTitaniumDragon Avatar
TheTitaniumDragon(1 day 14 hours played)
3 Years ago

Not necessarily. "Not being Portal" is honestly a pretty big problem for a lot of puzzle games, because, well, most puzzle games are quite boring.

Portal had interesting puzzles, but it was really the humor and story and general feel that made it what it was; the Talos Principle lacks humor, the demo didn't impress me with the story, it had a good feel to it, and the puzzles in the demo were meh - not totally awful but nothing I hadn't seen before in various forms.

So... good feel, meh on everything else... yeah, not being Portal is not unfair.

I mean, let's face it - this thing's metacritic score is horribly inflated. This is probably the only honest review of it. Sadly, it doesn't really go into the flaws very well.

Mozalbete Avatar
Mozalbete(3 days 15 hours played)
3 Years ago

It doesn't have to be humoristic at all or even have story. A good puzzle just needs good puzzles. Antichamber, The Incredible Machine or World of Goo or Space Chem are good examples of this.

In exchange of the storym portal is quite short. The multiplayer, which adds a lot of puzzles, has almost no story.

Dog Pants Avatar
Dog Pants(20 hours played)
3 Years ago

That's slightly disappointing. I enjoyed the demo, but there's no denying much of the appeal of Portal was the environment and story. I expect I'll still pick it up at some point, just maybe not right away.

Mountain_Man Avatar
3 Years ago

You've perfectly explained the misgivings I felt after playing the public test build several weeks ago. The game felt so dry and devoid of any personality, but I chalked it up to the fact that it was just a short demo. It's unfortunate that the haphazard "placeholder" feel of the demo was carried over into the final game.


However, do I have to give props to the developers for the amazing engine and graphics. The test build looked stunning and ran flawlessly in Linux.

mike_lang Avatar
3 Years ago

This review gets a few things right:

1) If you want portal, you'll be disappointed. This game is not portal.

2) This game is not particularly funny. If you want a funny game, you'll be disappointed.

3) If conducting a dialog over text takes you "out of the game", this is not the game for you. Talos delivers its experience through a variety of means, and you will have to interact with the characters of its world, explore the hidden corners of its landscapes and follow the traces of its history to understand the story of this game.

If you just want puzzlin' and witty banter, this is not the game for you.

4) The puzzles really are great. There's a few simple pedagogical levels that experienced puzzlers will fly through, but as the game progresses repeatedly the new puzzles force you to re-evaluate your assumptions of what is possible within the mechanics, and provide for a satisfying "ah ha!" once you see the solution.

But I don't personally think the game suffers from comparison. Because while it is not Portal, why do we need another Portal? We already got that from Portal 2 and while it's fairly easy to argue that while Portal 2 was good and fun, it was largely "more Portal", and playing "more Portal" just isn't quite the same as that first time you sat down and played through Portal.

I think merely it is our reviewer who suffered by comparing this to portal as its merits are different. Or perhaps our reviewer simply missed or doesn't enjoy walking outside the lines of the puzzle arenas to ponder "What is this world? What is it for? What came before in this place? And what is my part in it?" While portal held the player on a rather tight linear narrative track, Talos takes a different approach. The characters of Elohim and Milton assert themselves strongly and provide a narrative push to the player, but to fixate on the dialogs with these characters is to miss a lot of the appeal of Talos. Within the Talos Principle, an exploring player finds not the wasteland of a developer build, but a world with a story and a history of its own to discover that weaves directly into the puzzling element! The joy of Talos principle is that it rewards the attentive! There IS a story to discover in this game, and you are rewarded nicely at the climax. I found the finale afterwards a little flat, but the final ascent to get there was amazing! (I've not yet seen the bonus finale though- perhaps its more satisfying!) Regardless, it is rare that a game rewards a player this liberally for going off the beaten track and poking around just to see what there is to find. The only disappointment with Talos is when you finally reach the edge of what there is to find and you wish there was more, but all is left are kooky easter eggs (although the knock knock jokes were a nice touch).

ThinkIndieGames Avatar
3 Years ago

I feel you don't like the way your not just walked though this game by your hand, that's fine but some people like a non-liner style to the game, I for one like the open style.

About them using some of the same artwork and sounds. well if its not broken don't fix it.

The game is not a major AAA title so there is a budget.

I feel the graphics are a big step up for Croteams serious sam games so i really don't see how you can say that its all just "reused" i would call it "upgraded".

The ruins of roman style places,,,, medieval or how ever you would describe some of them i guess can be viewed as the same kind of thing, but there are plenty of different areas in the game you get to go to later..

I personally do not see game breaking reused serious sam elements in this game at all that make me think why am i playing serious sam?? the the load in menu is the same, the movement is the same fast passed movement but other than that i see nothing to compare them,

I played again after reading this to see if i felt like i was in a reused game, and i never felt like there was any serious sam there.

I'm not arguing here sorry if it looks like that.... :)

the story i feel that you get from exploring the game really draws me in it gives a sense of a magical mystery a God looking down on you,

And then everything you find within the computers of learning what a human really is to these people (god) ect. there so much to get drawn into. and to learn what you are and what are you there for.

I feel this game is a step above portals story. in portal i did not care about the story at all it lacked for me. now The Talos Priniciples story has me drawn in!!!

its great i can't fault this game for me its a 10/10

Maybe its personal preference but the puzzles are more fun too!

I'm not hateing on portal but for me if i had to pick one of them to be the only puzzle game i got to play again with new puzzles being added to it now and again it would be a easy answer

The Talos Principle!!