What you won’t like
Get set for a pile of reading
As much as The Talos Principle loves its puzzles, it loves its words more. Between the hundreds of files on the computer screens, the spoken excerpts you’ll run into on every level, and Elohim’s rantings, you’re going to feel like you read and heard as much as you moved and played with.
That does slow the pace of the game, and while I’m sure it contributes to the game’s feeling of immersion, I’m not sure quite this much was necessary. It’s possible to play through without reading it, letting the computer terminals cheep sadly at you without interacting with them, and avoiding the shiny cylinders of light that announce yet another monologue. But… but…
Sound and visual balance that need some tweaks
Midway through the game’s design, Croteam swapped out one Elohim voice actor for another. The new files are apparently quieter than the old ones, because even with voice settings at max and music settings close to minimum, he’s still easy to lose in the ambient soundtrack.
Sound effects could also use some editing. While generally excellent, they’re repetitive in outdoor environments, a little noisy compared with the rest of the soundtrack, and occasionally offputting. Turning around in place has the same heavy-steps sound effect as running forward, for example.
Graphics also occasionally pause and stutter during movement, even on a high-end PC. It’s rare, but distracting. These artifacts should not be confused with the deliberate “glitches” the game includes to remind you that you’re in a digitally-created artificial setting.
These issues are minor, and Croteam has indicated it’s planning to polish graphical issues, at least, up to and past the launch date.
The Talos Principle builds a giant collection of 3D puzzles, puts you in the middle of it, and then gives you a philosophical puzzle to chew on that’s even larger.
You’ve got to be in the mood for Talos. It’s demanding of your time and attention, especially if you’re the type that wants to finish most things you start. And you’ve got to have a love affair with words.
But if that describes you … this game can be magical. The result is a little melancholy, a little melodramatic, but one of the better puzzle game presentations I’ve ever played.
The Talos Principle releases Dec. 11 for PC, Mac, and Linux. GamesBeat was provided with a download code by Devolver Digital for the purpose of this review.