The Ta­los Prin­ci­ple

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PC

OK, it’s bad. Fire-and-brim­stone bad. Some­one’s been climb­ing the tower put off lim­its by Elo­him, the almighty mega­phone in the sky who claims to be the supreme cre­ator of this puzzling world. Cheek­ily chanc­ing your arm will only get you so far be­fore gen­eral warn­ings and en­tice­ments be­come spe­cific. The com­mand­ment is clear, but the re­sult is in­evitable – the truth is just too en­tic­ing to ig­nore.

This, then, is tes­ta­ment to the power of The Ta­los Prin­ci­ple’s writ­ing. There’s a god in heaven above, a tempter slith­er­ing in the gar­dens be­low, and a freewil­led in­di­vid­ual caught in the mid­dle. Ev­ery­one knows how this plays out, and yet slowly, philo­soph­i­cal blog by di­ary scrap by rhetor­i­cal ex­change, the draw of dis­cov­er­ing what Elo­him doesn’t want you to know be­comes all-con­sum­ing. Yes, there are flashes when the mul­ti­ple-choice re­sponses are con­strict­ing, the de­liv­ery is overly arch and the pon­der­ing gets pon­der­ous, but it’s hard to un­der­state the craft in weav­ing a mys­tery that makes orig­i­nal sin tempt­ing all over again. This is just the sur­face layer to a more hu­man, more hope­ful tale, but let it suf­fice to say that you won’t es­cape this 15-hour firstper­son puz­zler with­out mulling about some­thing broader than the tests in its many cham­bers.

Even if you give the op­tional parts of the yearn­ingly on­to­log­i­cal sto­ry­line a miss, the puz­zles are a strong enough back­bone to support the run­time, an el­e­gant suc­ces­sion of ar­range­ments that bend your mind and progress your un­der­stand­ing of a clutch of sim­ple tools so that you can pick ever more spa­tially com­plex locks. You’ll re­di­rect two colours of laser beam around ap­par­ently im­pos­si­ble cor­ners with con­nec­tors to avoid one beam cut­ting the other. You’ll dis­rupt doors and pa­trolling mines with jam­mers. You’ll toy with cubes and fans to cre­ate float­ing plat­forms, or speed­ways to catch a timed win­dow. Croteam of­fers one hint on en­try, a lit­tle cryp­tic pun that’s just enough to get go­ing, but a freeform struc­ture al­lows you to skip any test in the three main worlds and re­turn to it later. A few short hops of logic and faith are re­quired, but Ta­los’s lack of hand­hold­ing is am­bi­tious and ap­pre­ci­ated – it’s hugely sat­is­fy­ing to fig­ure th­ese rooms out on your own.

Then there are the stars re­quired to un­lock se­crets, re­quir­ing in­ver­sions of think­ing that treat the en­tire world as a puz­zle cham­ber, adding a mind-bog­gling endgame on top of the hunt for tetro­mi­noes. Not ev­ery layer of Ta­los finds its mark, but the dis­course cre­ated by nav­i­gat­ing them is a brain-tax­ing process to match the genre’s greats, one that frees you to poke at its load­bear­ing mem­bers and damn the con­se­quences. Trans­gres­sion has rarely felt so good.

Pub­lisher De­volver Dig­i­tal De­vel­oper Croteam For­mat PC Re­lease Out now

A Tetris piece waits at the end of ev­ery cham­ber, each colour used to un­lock dif­fer­ent parts of the game. Green gets you into worlds two and three, yel­low re­leases new toys and red is re­quired to breach Elo­him’s spire

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