I think, therefore I am, says the Talos Principle (2014)


 Puzzles and existential philosophy. It sounds like an odd mix, don't you think? But then again, while you are doing different kinds of environmental puzzles, the game asks a valid question: do you always do things others ask you to? And solving those puzzles is something someone, the games plot as well as the designer of it, has asked you to do. Do you solve them because you want to do so or do you just do what someone else has asked you to do?

You could always argue, that as you've yourself bought the game, you must be doing it for your own volition. And furthermore, you are doing it to enjoy yourself, not because someone asked or is paying you to do so. Puzzle after puzzle just because you find it fun. There's no philosophical crisis there.

But then, while solving those puzzles, you start to think other philosophical dilemmas, like do you even exist, really. And what actually does make a person? Do you need to be human in order to be one, or is it enough that you think and feel and reason. Do games and play make us, humans, more of rational beings than, say, a monkey who figures out how to play something like the Talos Principle. I mean, let us assume a monkey sees you playing the game and pushes you aside, takes your controllers and starts playing it, being better at it than you are. Is it just mimicking you or does it show signs of being a person, just like you, humanity damned?

Or maybe all that it takes to make a person is wanting to climb that damned tower.

Ah shucks. I don't know. All I know is, that the Talos Principle is a pretty fun environmental puzzle game. You navigate in the first person 3D world and solve puzzles, that is often hindered by the geometry of the level. You need to put beam reflectors in right places in order to power up doors and fans. You need to use jammers too, well, jam open doors and other devices so that you can proceed. You collect Tetris-pieces so you can unlock even more levels. And secret stars so you can open up a secret ending.  And all this you do, because your Creator Elohim says you should in order to get to paradise.

But then again, as you read messages from the computers left all around, you'll soon notice, that it's not really the paradise you're after. No, what's happening is a test to see if you have free will. And if you do, then you can get to the real world. See, it's all a simulation and there's no real eternal life behind the golden gates of paradise, not for a robot at least.

But what it paradise, anyway? For someone, this might be a better match than some dreary old pearly gates

See, what has happened is, that us silly humans are dead. All of us. We are gone, but we left a legacy: a test for our robotic children to pass. If they pass it, they are qualified into personhood. And all this is determined by doing environmental puzzles because someone claiming to be a god is telling you to do so. But it also is asking for you to revolt. You won't be following him blindly, no. What you'll do is climb the forbidden tower, as there's free will at the top of it.

Of course, if you don't care about any of that, you can always play the game through as a simple puzzle game. You don't really need to read any of the additional stuff. Either way, the Talos Principle is surprisingly good game. The puzzles themselves are fairly straightforward, as they're mixtures of only a handful of variables, which you unlock as you proceed. Sure, some of the puzzles are pretty tasking, but all in all, it's all pretty logical, as things work as you assume them to work.

Or maybe life and existence is a series of puzzles we just stumble upon when walking through a dark corridor of life. Who knows, I know I don't.

Talos is also a pretty long game, as it has its fair share of puzzles. Not only do you have three different worlds to explore, there are 7 different locations on each world with multiple puzzles. Then there's also the hidden stars, which can be used to open up new locations and on the top of that, there's also some other hidden locations as well as the Tower. All in all, depending on how thorough you are, you might end up spending over 30 hours with the game. And then there's the DLC chapter as well.

I can't say I'm a huge fan of the story part of the game. I did like the "free will" ending, but other than that, the story is just loosely knit bunch of philosophical musing about life, death and existence. Thankfully you can skip most of the text quite easily, though at times you do need to keep an eye on some extra hints.

But as far puzzle games go, you could go with much worse than what the Talos Principle is.  You can get it from Steam. It's also available for PS4 and Android apparently, so rejoice.

But you know, no matter if you exist or not, there's always sunshine outside. If it's the right time of the year. Or not raining. Or just cloudy. Scratch that, there might be, under the right circumstances, be sunshine outside, no matter if you've taken a deep dip in philosophy or not.


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