I’ve needed a distraction from my thoughts this week. It’s too emotional to spend time in Second Life and I’m bored with my other games, so after reading a couple of reviews, I downloaded The Talos Principle on Steam. It’s a single player puzzle game, but it has lovely graphics and surprising depth.
My comments are only based on three hours of playing, but I’m looking forward to having free time to go back in. Without giving away too much of the gameplay — because the point, and the delight, is in discovering things little by little on your own — you awake in a strange world of ruins and are guided by a voice who introduces himself as ELOHIM. The default view is first person, so you don’t see your cybernetic body unless you choose to change the settings (which I only did for the screenshot above; first person view and movement are very good). As you explore, you find puzzles that need to be solved to get pieces that can be used to activate keypads. You discover terminals that allow you to read files and interact with an automated system. You also find digital artifacts left behind by…well, that’s part of the mystery.
All of that is enjoyable, but the hook is philosophy. Yep, philosophy. In fact, one of the effusive reviews on Steam is from someone who describes himself (herself?) as a PhD in philosophy. There are a lot of questions raised about the nature of humanity, personhood and citizenship, freedom and authority. I think you could enjoy the game without contemplating the deeper questions of what it means to be human, but it’s there.
The Talos Principle is $35.99 (10% off) until January 2nd. If you decide to give it a try, pick up the free game Sigils of Elohim. It’s quite literally a puzzle game — fit the pieces into the shape — but completing each level provides a code for extra content inside Talos.