Ancient History and Technology Merge in The Talos Principle

Visually, The Talos Principle is gorgeous and stunning, especially on the Retina HD screen of my iPhone 8 Plus. It reminds me of the graphics in The Witness, except it’s much more realistic and less dreamlike. The game’s fully rendered in 3D and it’s incredibly immersive, pulling you into the tranquil island life. It shifts between first-person and third-person perspective, depending on the puzzle you’re solving. The entire world is full of fine details and textures, giving everything a bit of life. Honestly, it’s rather impressive that this is just on my iPhone.

As far as music and sound goes, The Talos Principle nails it as well. There’s an ambient, atmospheric soundtrack that helps you relax and focus on solving the puzzles on the island. As far as sound effects go, it’s rather sensible, with the calming sounds of nature and your own robotic footsteps. The sound design is the other layer of the game that truly draws you into the game world, as it’s so well done.

In The Talos Principle, players wake up from a deep sleep and find themselves on an island that’s filled with ancient ruins and technology. It’s a bit similar to The Witness, but you’re a robot here, rather than a human, though you have a human-like consciousness. There’s a voice that speaks to you as you wander around, providing guidance, but the question remains: who are you and what is your purpose? The answers to these questions reveal themselves as you make progress on the island by solving puzzles.

The controls in The Talos Principle on mobile are simple and intuitive, though it does take time to get used to. Just tap where you want to move to, and you’ll walk over. Swiping your finger horizontally lets you pan the camera around so you can view the surroundings. A two-finger swipe lets you strafe in that direction (left, right, or backward). You can also double tap a spot to run towards it, rather than walk.

When there are objects in the environment that you can interact with, there’s an indicator on the screen — just tap it and you interact with it. The game contains over 100 puzzles all across the island, and they involve multiple interactions. These range from picking up portable jammer units to disable turrets and walls, to diverting drones and manipulating laser beams. The puzzles are all different and range from simple to complex. The game also gives players the freedom to complete puzzles in their own way, as it’s non-linear.

As you complete puzzles, you’ll earn a “sigil” at the end of each one. These sigils are shaped like tetrominos and are the key to unlocking security gates (also puzzles themselves) in order to move on to the next area. There’s also some exploration that you can do in the open environments to uncover more puzzles and narrative.

For the most part, the touch screen controls work well enough. However, if you have a MFi controller, The Talos Principle fully supports them. This means a more console-like experience if you have a controller, but it’s still playable without.

A beautiful 3D puzzle adventure reminiscent of The Witness.

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