The Talos Principle 2 should be at the forefront of every puzzle-lover’s mind. Croteam’s first-person adventure gives you puzzles like The Room franchise and exploration like the Myst titles. It’s a great mesh between puzzle-solving, atmosphere, and story that creates a thought-provoking and challenging gameplay session every time you dive in. After having been given time to play the preview for The Talos Principle 2, I was left wanting to continue exploring and discovering. The feeling of there being so much more beyond the walls of the preview was overwhelming, and I’m happy to say that many of those feelings were sated when I finally got my hands on the finished game.
The Talos Principle 2 Review
The Talos Principle 2 takes place many, many years after the end of the first installment, with Elohim’s presence no longer being a main focal point. Now, there is a new species of human androids called New Humans, who have a collective Goal of creating precisely 1,000 of these New Humans. Fortunately, you wake up to find that you are the 1,000th creation, named 1K, and, therefore, the end of the collective Goal. After a series of strange happenings revolving around the old gods of Greek culture, you join an explorative team of scholars who are set on investigating the relics of the humans before us. The story only goes as far as the puzzles you complete and the discoveries you make.
Story: A Brave, New World
The New Humans are struggling to understand what was left behind by the people before them and why. How were such large structures built, and why is the land around them equipped with these mind-bending puzzles? The only thing they understand is to be humble to avoid the mistakes that ordinary humans make, leading to their extinction. But what does that mean when you’re staring at light structures and hundreds of puzzles that only seem to unlock a passage toward the unknown?
The story itself is shrouded in the audio files and excerpts that you can find around the world through exploration. You can also speak to your fellow New Humans to get their understanding of the things around you. However, failing to do this will hinder your experience of what’s happening as the story isn’t told through traditional narrative means. Two players could have two completely different experiences depending on whether they choose to explore and read versus just completing the puzzles and moving forward.
As someone more of a fan of the latter, I had initially felt that a story was sorely lacking between the few cutscenes. However, it took me doing that bit of work to find hand tablet audio files and going through my personal logs to have a better grasp of why I was doing any of what I was doing. You’re not prohibited from moving forward once the puzzles are done. Still, you won’t be provided with the context to understand whatever is coming next without having done research into the areas that you’re currently in. Despite that, you don’t need to have played the previous game to grasp what is going on in its sequel.
Gameplay: Engaging And Repetitive
Getting through each area is almost exactly as the previous: solve eight sets of puzzles and enter some beam of light that unlocks the next area. Beyond the expectation of each level itself, there is also the fact that each puzzle is some form of a light puzzle that requires a combination of lights and objects hitting a set of targets and buttons to unlock the next area. The puzzles themselves are completely different from one another, though patterns do begin to make themselves known at times. In some cases, this helped as I was able to move on to another puzzle and return when I felt as though I had done something that I hadn’t considered before.
There are also Prometheus Sparks that you can collect and use to bypass any one puzzle should it be just too difficult. Unfortunately, there isn’t an in-game map for any areas, forcing you to use your memory to discover areas of interest or find Sparks that can help you. The lack of a map does force you to explore on your own, creating an organic sense of discovery that isn’t usually present in most modern-day games. After solving puzzles, there isn’t anything more in the way of gameplay or other mechanics and features that 1K can perform.
Graphics And Sound: Beauty Like No Other
The world is an absolute marvel. The landscape is filled with forgotten statues, perfectly sculpted cliff faces, serene architecture, and the semblance of technology that was lost long ago that takes place in every season imaginable. I often would find myself almost taking a tour of the area rather than doing what I was meant to do. Because the puzzles aren’t required to be done in any particular order, you are given plenty of chances to take in the scenery.
Alongside the scenery, the ambient sound of each island and the voice acting work of the other New Humans. The voice acting was efficient and filled the primary space of the world with human emotion. The New Humans have personalities and likes/dislikes that they go over amongst one another through the future version of Slack or Discord. It makes you feel like you’re part of an explorative team as you solve puzzles and riddles.
Conclusion: A Beautiful World Filled With Emptiness
The Talos Principle 2 is a gorgeous game with incredibly necessary voice acting and puzzles that can bend the minds of even the biggest fanatics. Unfortunately, the world is far too plain for a first-person adventure. While you’re encouraged to look around and explore via your puzzle-solving objectives, it isn’t at all necessary, which can fall flat for certain players looking for more robust experiences outside of simply doing that. While it is true that the entirety of the game relies on puzzles to move forward, its openness and the consistent talk about discovery made me believe that there would be more to do.
If you’re a diehard fan of puzzle-solving games and want to test your mental gymnastics against the developers’ intentions, this will be a fun way to get through 20+ hours of riddles. If you’re looking for something a little bit more straightforward, then you might want to let this one sit.
Review played on PC, copy given by the publisher.
The Talos Principle 2 is available for PC, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X/S.