The Talos Principle
By: Devolver Digital (Croteam)
About a year and a half ago, I needed a new laptop, mostly for recording gameplay of iOS games. But there were a lot of PC games I kept eyeing that I knew might never come to my platform of choice. So I opted for a gaming laptop. There were also some Steam sales around that time, so I figured I could buy a few games at a heavily discounted price, and eventually I’d play them. I did buy several, but only made it through some short ones like The Stanley Parable and The Beginner’s Guide. I also bought The Talos Principle and its expansion, Road to Gehenna, based off the free demo that I played. But as much as I liked the game, I am just not drawn to playing on my PC. So I never touched the full game. But here we are today and the game is the latest in a slew of PC ports that have come to mobile lately. I didn’t even hesitate before snatching it up for $4.99.
In The Talos Principle, you play as an intelligent robot placed in some world full of puzzles, with instructions from a narrator who calls himself Elohim, or God. He claims to be your maker and wants you to solve all his puzzles to prove yourself to him. And I’m sure there’s a lot more to it once you get deeper into the story.
I remembered what I learned from my time with the demo, though I don’t even think I finished that — I really hate playing on PC. Jumping into it on my iPad felt far more natural than my previous experience. The default controls are like those in The Witness, where you tap to move, swipe with one finger to look around, and use two-finger swipes to make small movements. Puzzles are scattered throughout this land that mixes ancient architecture with modern technology. Kind of like The Witness. But the puzzles are very different. For one, you can die — though it just means restarting a puzzle. So far, each puzzle involves finding and picking up Jammers, machines that, well, jam other machines and door locks. You simply tap the bullseye icon on a Jammer to pick it up, then carry it within range of either a laser, drone or door that you want to open. There might be other obstacles later, but that’s what I’ve seen for now. The drones and lasers kill you if you get too close, so you usually have to figure out a way to deactivate them. You can see more in my video below of some iPad Air 2 gameplay. This one is in first person.
I later switched to third person perspective because I was getting motion sickness. It does seem to help, but I still can’t play for month sessions, unfortunately. In this next video, I also found a computer terminal with some interesting story bits and the temple I couldn’t find earlier. It was past a Sigil puzzle involving Tetris pieces that you have to rotate and fit together. I also solved some more Jammer puzzles and had a little look around at the scenery.
The game doesn’t have iCloud yet, so I can’t continue my iPad game on my iPhone. I am happy to report, though, that the developers said they’re planning to add it in the next couple of weeks. So for now, just to see how it plays on my iPhone 6S, I started a new game on there. And it might even feel better than on iPad! Yes, you have to look at a smaller screen, but the gameplay and controls really lend themselves well to playing with two thumbs. You can use one thumb to move and the other to look around and grab Jammers. Perhaps once the iCloud update hits, I’ll find myself playing more on there than on my iPad. It really feels like the best way to experience this game if you’re not a fan of PC gaming. I should also mention that there are alternate controls you can choose from the settings. It’s a virtual joystick with some buttons in middle of the screen and I had a terrible time with it for the couple of minutes I tried it. You end up with a cluttered screen and an unnatural control scheme for a touchscreen. I highly suggest sticking to the default controls.
Overall, I’m so happy to finally be playing The Talos Principle on my iOS devices. I’m not even upset that I bought it on PC, though I do wish I’d played at least some of it before it hit iOS. Either way, $4.99 is a steal for a game like this. And it plays well in short spurts, since the game autosaves anywhere. But again, be aware that it does cause motion sickness in some people who experience it. There are some settings that help, but if you easily get sick from first-person 3D games, you may want to watch some video or play the PC demo before purchasing. If you don’t suffer from motion sickness and you like puzzle games, this seems to be a great one from what I’ve played so far. But there is some tension with the moving drones. Don’t expect a completely relaxing game with no reflexes involved. It is first and foremost a puzzle game, but there are dangers out there. I’ll have more to say on it after I get through more of it, but I really must repeat that this is a great time to be a mobile gamer.
You can see more gameplay below: