Among the aisles of indie games on display in E3’s PlayStation section, I came across one very interesting title which I’d actually never heard of: The Talos Principle, a phrase meaning “the body cannot live without the soul and vice-versa” which the developers extrapolated from the mythological figure Talos.
The game’s a first-person puzzle-exploration adventure game with a nice, almost-realistic aesthetic, and I figured that was probably up my alley, so I went to try out the demo. With very little hand-holding, I was dropped into a tree-and-ruin fantasy-esque area thus began the demo.
What was striking about the place, though, were the laser fences and technological objects easily visible throughout the otherwise fairly generic fantasy setting. It made for an interesting contrast in the aesthetic and definitely came across as intentional rather than a jarring oversight.
The game’s puzzles, at least for the demo—I can’t speak for the game proper—were secluded behind those laser fences and revolved around the placement of tripods to reflect a laser into various apparatuses on the wall. The actual puzzling aspect of them is finding the correct special arrangement so that the tripods have unobstructed lines of sight between each other and can therefore “toss” the laser in sequence.
Though it at times felt a bit overwhelming to keep all the special sequences in my head, this mechanic worked pretty well for the most part. There was a point where I had to suspend a tripod on top of some boxes in the air produced by a fan in order to send a laser over a wall, and the basic, physical logic of that solution made it very satisfying.
As well, there were a few Tetris-block jigsaw puzzles, which for some reason added a nice extra layer of mystique to the game’s atmosphere, and one of which I was eventually heavily assisted in solving by one of the game’s artists who claimed to have not known the solution beforehand. These were the primary puzzle ideas in the demo, but one of the developers at hand explained that the full game would have several different mechanics that weren’t included on the showfloor.
What perhaps interests me most about The Talos Principle, however, is the premise of the game’s narrative, which I had a moment to speak about with a developer. The team’s keeping a lot of it under wraps for obvious reasons, but the basic idea seems to be that you play some sort of robot who’s trying to discover the meaning of humanity as well as whether he an be considered “human,” a person. The demo itself didn’t feature much by way of story other than a powerful voice periodically communicating with you from some unknown place, telling you that something awaits.
Overall I’d say I’m pretty interested in The Talos Principle. Part of that’s definitely my inclination towards stories that deal with themes of understanding humanity (see: The Iron Giant), but I also have a fondness for the “coarse” vibe I got from the art direction and liked the sort of mystical feeling some of the puzzles gave off. This certainly isn’t a game I’m geeking out over, but I’m intrigued.