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The Talos Principle 2 Review

Almost a decade after its predecessor was released, the sequel to The Talos Principle is now upon us in the form of The Talos Principle 2.  It will take you on another journey through a complex world shrouded in mystery, lore and mind-bending puzzles to solve.  The question is, how does it fare against the first game in the series?  Read on to find out in our The Talos Principle 2 Review!

A 1000 years later

From the very beginning, it is clear that The Talos Principle 2 has not only matched the beauty of the first game but has managed to exceed it in several ways.  The beauty of the world that you inhabit, the beauty of the environmental elements and the beauty of the puzzles have not only been preserved but improved upon.

The story is set 1,000 years after the events of the first game and places you in a world inhabited solely by robot humanoids / androids.  You step into the shoes (or android equivalent) of “1K” – the 1,000th robot to have been created by their civilisation.  1K is tasked with solving puzzles and exploring a mysterious megastructure that the current civilisation knows nothing about.

A story about androids

Interestingly, the androids all consider themselves to be human as they embark upon understanding topics such as consciousness, empathy for past generations and even (ironically) artificial intelligence.  This is a great story arc and a refreshing approach to a world consisting solely of non-human life.  Listening to the androids converse throughout the game is intriguing.  They discuss several topics in the search for answers about the megastructure and they also engage in entertaining banter.  There is even a video-call-themed interface during some cutscenes where the androids have split up to explore separate areas but remain in contact remotely.  They even have their own user avatars, with one particular android adorably setting their avatar to a picture of them with their beloved cat draped over one shoulder!

As you explore and attempt to uncover the mystery surrounding the megastructure, you must solve several puzzles along the way.  Each puzzle reveals a tidbit about what has happened which in turn gradually draws you closer to solving the megastructure’s mystery.

Philosophy class

As in the first game, the theme of philosophy is implemented heavily throughout which is great because it fits the narrative perfectly.  You are part of a team who set about trying to learn what they can about a new environment as they uncover events from the past.  They want to know why certain things are the way they are and what the meaning behind them could be because they are on a mission of discovery, learning and understanding, after all.

The environments that you explore are enormous and you will most likely navigate them through running.  Thankfully, you never run out of stamina, which is in fact a very clever aspect when you take a step back and consider what that means.  First of all, it’s always useful to be able to run in-game without needing to regularly stop to regain stamina.  Secondly, it would become frustrating to have to keep stopping and starting as you attempt to traverse the immense map on foot because it would remove you from the immersion and could even become boring.  Most importantly, you are playing as an android, meaning that your character will never get tired!  As such, this has allowed the developers to enable you with infinite running abilities which never deplete, whilst retaining that element of accuracy/realism.

Puzzles increase in complexity

The puzzles you encounter at first are simple and straightforward.  However, they gradually increase in complexity as you progress, with each one tending to build on those prior to it.  As you move through the game, puzzles will begin to incorporate different elements that you will have encountered in previous puzzles.  You are required to think (and sometimes think really, really hard) about how you could come to a solution using the elements from previous puzzles together to form a unified solution.

Whilst attempting to solve a particularly difficult puzzle, I received notification that I had unlocked an achievement.  Feeling the usual pride that washes over me when that normally happens, I took a quick look at it and that pride quickly disappeared.  This is because the achievement was for spending in excess of 20 minutes solving one puzzle.  Given the level of arrogance attached to the achievement, I uttered something unrepeatable and went back to (now-angrily) solving the puzzle.

I’ll take a hint please!

If you really can’t figure out a solution (and refuse to search online for the answer), then you may redeem a Prometheus Spark at a Prometheus Terminal.  However, this won’t solve the puzzle for you, which is a feature that I am particularly fond of as you are still required to think!  Instead of solving the puzzle, the Prometheus Terminal will release the required flame in order for you to progress.  Think of it as a get-out-of-jail-free card, because it merely allows you to skip a puzzle whilst still leaving it in an incomplete state.

On that note, there is in fact very little in the way of guidance in, and I found myself lost both literally and mentally at numerous points throughout the game.  However, when approaching puzzles, the minimal guidance actually works in your favour.  This is because you are forced to see what happens when you try something, much like in real life when discovering something new.  As such, this allows your brain to better retain what you have just learned (well, at least that’s true in my experience!).

Achievement unlocked!

On the flip side of that, I have spent way more time than I would like to admit trying to figure out what to do next.  For example, I was given the instruction “Activate the towers 1/3” with nothing more to go on.  I then proceeded to spend around two hours(!) quite literally running around the entire map, searching every nook and cranny in the hope that I find something I had missed before.  Without ruining anything, let’s just say that it pays to look really, really closely when exploring as it is very easy to miss things when you aren’t paying full attention.

There is a limited form of multiplayer in The Talos Principle 2 through the “Community Puzzles” feature.  As the name suggests, this option allows players to create and share their own puzzles.  This means that there could potentially be an endless supply of new puzzles to tackle, which is always a good thing because they’re so much fun!

There is so much to do in The Talos Principle 2, that you will almost certainly have to play it multiple times just to be able to see and do everything.  In addition to that, there are multiple endings which you will most likely want to discover.

Incredibly rich environments

The first thing you see after the waking-up scene when starting a new game in The Talos Principle 2 is this utterly stunning scene before you.  Crisp, bright colours and intricately detailed elements are combined with great use of light and shade to create a truly beautiful environment right off the bat.

The environments are rich, vivid and highly detailed and range from serene landscapes to ancient ruins.  There are also several hidden areas to discover on your journey.  For example, there are secret labs that contain additional information in the form of interactive mechanisms that you activate via a terminal.  Once activated, a miniature demonstration of what you might expect to find at some point in the not-too-distant-future plays out in front of you.

Music to match the mood

When I first discovered one of these miniature demonstrations, I was utterly baffled as I hadn’t come across anything like it prior to this point.  It wasn’t until I progressed to the next area and encountered it in person that the penny dropped and I quite literally shouted out “ah-ha!”.

The background music is incredibly pleasant and the only way that I can think to accurately describe or classify it is “discovery music”.  I’m not sure if that’s a thing or whether I made the whole genre up, but I’m pretty sure you can figure out what I mean.  The music lends itself nicely to feelings of curiosity, exploration and finding new things.  Perhaps “adventure music” might fit better, but that typically involves heavy brass instruments which is not the case here.  Either way, it sounds great and helps set the mood, as such!

Characters’ voices are diverse and feature a mixture of accents and dialects from all over the world, which is great.  Being British, I also found it very amusing to hear an android with a Brummie accent (from Birmingham)!

Conclusion

The Talos Principle 2 is not only an excellent sequel, but a very, very good puzzle-solving game.  Much like its predecessor, Croteam has managed to include an incredibly deep, vivid story that tugs on your heartstrings, making the whole experience even more immersive.  The puzzles are spectacular and sometimes so complex that they could only have been thought up by some divine entity!

There is very little handholding in The Talos Principle 2, meaning that unless you pay attention, you will get stuck in some areas for a long time.  Despite having a compass to aid in navigation, it would have been great to have had a map to refer to.  I genuinely struggle to read maps in real life and tend to avoid them, but even the likes of me would have found the addition of an in-game map to be super helpful!  Perhaps even one that gradually reveals areas after you have explored them because I often found myself unable to progress for significant amounts of time due to not knowing what to do next because of vague instructions.

With vast landscapes to explore, utterly stunning visuals, captivating puzzles and a thought-provoking narrative, The Talos Principle 2 is going to simultaneously entertain and challenge you in the best possible ways.  It builds upon everything that made the first game great and improves upon it, making this sequel truly mesmerising.  If solving puzzles and immersing yourself in a wonderful, deep and intriguing story is something you enjoy, then The Talos Principle 2 will not disappoint you!

Pros:

  • Great visuals / expert art direction.
  • Exquisite, thought-provoking puzzles.
  • Exceptional story/narrative.
  • Fantastic audio.
  • There are loads of things to do.
  • Great variety between puzzles.
  • You are required to really, really think about things.

Cons:

  • You are required to really, really think about things.
  • It is easy to get lost as there is no map.
  • Objectives are sometimes vague.

Grade: 9

The Talos Principle 2 is currently available through Boosteroid and GeForce Now. This review was made by Mus from PapaBear Gaming. You can check out his channel right here. You can follow him on Twitter by going here. That was it for our The Talos Principle 2 review.