The Talos Principle 2 is solid proof that sequels don’t have to be mere rehashes of the original, Croteam delivering a tremendously elaborate and profound philosophical puzzle adventure. It’s a thinking person’s game, a work that often crosses the boundaries of art, and probably one of the most benevolent games you are likely to see in years, ironically for one where humans are extinct and androids roam the lands. With dozens of hours of puzzle solving and plenty of food for the brain, this one will test you and make you reflect on your own existence at the same time.
A massive step from the first game, The Talos Principle 2 is a cinematic adventure that just happens to throw several puzzles your way. It introduces new mechanics at a steady pace, not overwhelming you during the introduction areas, but also not shying away from some truly demanding puzzles that were surely devised by the most advanced computer yet – the human brain and its will to test and explore.
The starting area is nothing but an elongated and disguised tutorial, an Egyptian-themed region that teaches you the basics and leaves you wondering if the game cut down on the lore and simply decided to challenge you. As it turns out, the beginning of everything happens when you find your way to the city of New Jerusalem, the haven for the thousand robots that is suddenly threatened by the sight of this impressive and mysterious megastructure.
With a refreshing focus on storytelling and exploration that would remind some players of their first steps into the Half-Life games, to mention a classic, your introduction to New Jerusalem can be a stroll in the park as you chat to some locals and explore the place, or you can skip straight to the mission that is soon to depart.
The Talos Principle 2 doesn’t shackle you to a rigid progression system where roadblocks happen frequently; you have at least up to eight puzzles in each region to tackle in the order you prefer, although they are often introduced in a smooth learning curve, meaning that skipping one may not give you all the information you could use for the next batch. At times you even have the luxury of traveling between the huge regions and discovering different types of puzzles, effectively increasing your chances of success.
Each region is a true wonder of design mixing nature, man-made, and seemingly alien structures. Going from puzzle to puzzle is like a marvelous stroll with some amazing sightseeing opportunities, massive structures often looming over the horizon and catching the eye. At times, you may feel like Lara Croft or Indiana Jones, at least in terms of awe while discovering some ruins or the eerie interiors of a structure, marveling at the amazing work of the artists responsible for this game.
Despite some great signposting directing you to each puzzle, the walks aren’t short and it’s easy to be sidetracked by all these appealing free-roam opportunities. And you definitely should take the time to explore, to go off the beaten path, as there are places with additional lore, a topic where the game excels as well.
Exploration is not only advised but encouraged as it may reward you with the presence of a spark. These small but noticeable items are the “cheat mode” of the game, keys to bypass a puzzle that may be stumping you for a long time, hard to find and very valuable to have. Think carefully before you give in to the temptation of using one, as you may miss it right during the next puzzle.
Reaching some structures after solving the region puzzles or in other occasions is a matter of using tetrominoes to create bridges in front of you. Simple as this may seem, the order and rotation of the geometric shapes can sometimes lead to puzzling situations, pun not intended, and is another factor that breaks the rhythm from the main challenges.
Conversion and Inversion
With some recurring gadgets from the first game and a few more that are premiered here, the puzzles in The Talos Principle 2 are deviously complicated at times, but extremely intuitive in other moments. All that it takes is that click to get things in motion, thinking like the designers, but no matter how successful you may be most of the time, there will be moments when all the beams, RGB converters, inverters, drills, mind transfer, and more will seem a bit daunting for you.
Breaks are recommended, a fresh approach perhaps the only way to find the solution that could be right in front of you. It helps that sometimes you may stumble upon an alternate solution, something that wasn’t planned to be the main way of solving it, but logic be damned, if it works, it works.
This is also a huge game, you won’t finish it in a couple of days for sure – maybe not even in a couple of weeks. The landscapes are vast and take some time to cross, which might not suit everyone’s tastes – it would have been a good idea to have a way to skip directly to a puzzle in a given region, given the presence of more than a hundred puzzles, some of them secret. All things considered, it’s a huge game and well worth the asking price.
Is The Talos Principle 2 perfect? Absolutely not, as the game’s own meta dialogue would tell you in a heartbeat. But there isn’t anything inherently wrong with it, nothing that screams bad design or lack of creativity. The plot may get in the way of players who are in just for the puzzles, but those who want the full package will love the dialogues with their exploration partners and the speculation about the mysterious findings. There are different endings as well, one of those for the completionists who tackle even the gold puzzles.
The Talos Principle 2 is a must for puzzle fans, an incredibly ambitious and gorgeous sequel that is as engaging as it is amazing to look at. Some of the structures are awe-inspiring and postcard worthy, the soundtrack is eerie and often admirable, and the game screams quality all over.
Brilliant from its mechanical head to toes, The Talos Principle 2 is a mind-bending puzzle and adventure game with a lot to say about humanity, past, present, and future. The futuristic dystopian society where you thrive sounds so current and potentially real that it’s almost uncanny, and the best way to enjoy it is to dive deep into the conversations and the surroundings, without rushing, without getting desperate at a puzzle that may block your progress for a while. Humanity may be a thing of the past, but these robots surely can hold their own against other great puzzle games.
- Incredibly ambitious sequel that is an improvement in every department
- Great graphical design with impressive sights
- Over 100 puzzles with many gadget combinations
- A metaphysical plot that will make you think, no matter your beliefs
- Considerable length
- Regions may eventually show signs of visual repetition