I’d had The Talos Principle on my Steam wishlist for quite some time, and rightly so. If you’ve seen some of the scores the game has received, or played the game yourself you’d probably understand why.
Sadly, time is my biggest enemy these days; too many awesome games and not enough time to play them. I often scroll down my wishlist looking at the games I should buy, but then remember I have games that need my attention for a review or a back catalogue of stuff I’ve already bought and am yet to play. Then of course a new season of Diablo comes and that just wipes out any spare time I had.
But I digress. I’m here to talk about The Talos Principle VR. When the opportunity arose to review the title I jumped on it, despite the fact that I’d be heading out of town for a week with PAX Australia, I still wanted to take some time to play the game properly so I could share with you an honest and fair review. So apologies for the lateness in this review, but hopefully that wait was worth the while.
The Talos Principle VR comes to your via Croteam, the awesome folks behind the incredibly popular Serious Sam range of games. They are also no stranger to virtual reality titles, having already produced multiple VR titles centered around the infamous Sam himself. The game itself is a puzzle game akin to the like of Portal, but where as Portal often required reflexes and timing, The Talos Principle VR instead focuses more on thought puzzles and problem solving. That’s not to say there aren’t moments where you’ll need to move quickly or bounce around a map, they just aren’t as prolific, and in a virtual reality environment that’s probably for the best.
Visually the game is stunning. While the object of the game is of course to complete the puzzles and progress through the stages, you do so in an organic way, moving from scene to scene. Along the way there is plenty to stop and look at, from the purely aesthetically pleasing to actually discovering tidbits of lore. Regardless of the environment you find yourself in, things look superb and I wasted a lot of time just moving around, exploring and looking at everything. Textures look sharp and crisp, even at the standard 100% resolution. Although one thing I must say, having now seen this game, is that I can’t wait for GPU power to reach a point that we can add tessellation to VR titles.
The soundtrack is likewise excellent with appropriate music that helps create a sense of calm or raise the tension. In my time with the game it was largely orchestral, sometimes Gregorian and occasionally electronic. You’ll find plenty of boops and beeps in the game, warning you of dangers, but you’ll also hear wind blowing, water bubbling and a host of other effects that help bring the world to life. While you may be (apparently) alone in the world apart from the hazards you encounter, there is quite a bit of voice acting and all of it that I encountered sounded excellent. Nothing cheesy here.
As I mention in the video below I’m finding it harder and harder to pop the VR helmet on these days, mostly due to a lack of time and the effort required in gearing up. The Talos Principle VR really helped me break that trend, and I found myself constantly saying to myself ‘just one more, just one more’ until the wife had to unplug me so I would come to the dinner table.
Aside from the maze puzzles that will require you to use a variety of turret-like tripods to disable barriers, guns and mobile mines (all of which get progressively harder), there are also world puzzles (à la Myst) that will require you to really use your brain and find clues to solve. To aid in the latter, the world is filled with computers, posters, voice messages and other lore that give you insight into who you are and why you are here. This is all a bit of a mystery to begin with and will soon have you questioning the reality you find yourself in.
As I stated earlier exploration is something that I really enjoyed doing in The Talos Principle VR. There certainly isn’t any need to go for a stroll down the beach while the sun sets, but it sure is neat and enjoyable to do so. For those of you not in a rush it will take you anywhere up to 30 hours or more to see and do everything in the game. For those who like to belt through things at a break neck speed, the quicker end of the scale appears to be around the 15 hour mark. Justification enough for the $39.99 USD price tag ($52.27 AUD). If your budget doesn’t stretch quite that far then pop it on your wishlist and wait for the Christmas sale. Remember too that the standard desktop version of The Talos Principle would normally run you $39.99 USD as well, then a further $14.99 for the Road to Gehenna DLC. So you’re (essentially) getting the DLC for free with the VR version.
Like the base game, the The Talos Principle VR includes a map editor and allows for a degree of modding. The game options are thankfully quite detailed as well and will allow you to change not only your visual fidelity but also a number of VR options include mode of transportation, super sampling and the like. The game even has support for the new Vulcan API, although it’s only in beta and a little buggy at present. Still, much like their Serious Sam VR titles, Croteam are taking VR seriously (ba-dum-tish) and including a swathe of options for VR, which is fantastic.
In summary, The Talos Princple VR is one of the few VR titles I can see myself returning to post-review. It’s also the sort of title that might entice people like my wife to be more involved with VR gaming. If you’re looking for a ‘meaty’ VR title with some decent playtime in it (still sadly hard to find a lot of these days) and have the budget, grab yourself The Talos Principle VR. If not, or you aren’t a huge fan of puzzle games, pop it on your Steam wishlist and snap it up on sale, you won’t be disappointed.
The Talos Principle VR is available now on Steam – http://store.steampowered.com/app/552440/The_Talos_Principle_VR/
Review System: Intel Core i7 6700k. Nvidia 1070GTX. 32GB DDR4. HTC Vive.
Check out the video component of my review here –