The Talos Principle review: Thank Elohim for a game this good

£29.99; PC (PS4 and Android versions coming next year); Croteam

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The Independent Tech

In a year of games receiving massive amounts of hype but largely failing to deliver, it is very refreshing to find a game that with little fanfare has turned out to be one of the best games released in 2014.

The Talos Principle starts with you waking up, squinting into the sun in a strange land with a strange voice telling you to go forth and begin collecting sigils for him. You do this by solving puzzles using an increasing array of tools unlocked by completing the puzzles.

The gameplay will draw many comparisons to Portal in that the game is played in first person and you solve a puzzle in a closed area then move on to the next. However, where Portal only really gave you one puzzle solving system to work with (the portals), The Talos Principle gives you multiple which, more often than not, you will need to combine.

The beauty of the puzzles is that they make you learn, apply what you have learnt, then learn techniques on top of that, then on top of that etc. The thinking and planning that goes into the puzzles gives a massive sense of achievement when you solve them.

There are puzzles that I solved within seconds, some I battled with for hours, decided I needed a break, came back and solved within minutes - and others that just took me hours. The variation and imagination in these puzzles is fantastic and the difficulty curve is one of the most finely crafted I have ever experienced, with it really feeling like you are learning as you are going.

Gameplay aside there is also a fascinating narrative that has explained philosophical concepts to me better than anyone before (but I don’t want to give any of the plot away as the discovery is part of the enjoyment of the game).

Apart from the voice of Elohim (or God) and what he tells you, you could completely miss out on the plot of the game if you ignored the computer terminals at the start of each area (for the love of Elohim please don’t do that!). However, this really does sum up the appeal of the story within this game, unlike blockbuster AAA games you aren’t shown story as a passive observer. Save for the ending(s) there are no cut-scenes in this game, all of the plot progression is done by you exploring, investigating and interacting.

Each area has a distinct visual style, all beautiful and all great fun to explore, the sound is also fantastic and is reminiscent of early Sigur Ros.

What Croteam have done here is create a beautiful world, filled it with fun and challenging puzzles, and then on top of that added a fascinating story with its exploration of the human condition. How telling it is that a small developer has achieved so much when many AAA titles fail to achieve more than one of those things.

With PS4 and Android versions of the game due early 2015 I would recommend anyone that can to play this game. It's a marvellous achievement, and a really pleasant surprise to start 2015 with.

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