Skip to main content

The Talos Principle 2 already has me feeling like a scientific genius

A great puzzle game can make you feel like a genius. Genre classics like Portal hinge on the immense satisfaction that comes from cracking a complicated solution. That can be a tricky puzzle in itself, as developers need to be careful to not make challenges so obtuse that they send players searching for guides after too much head-scratching. Games that pull it off, however, leave players a special kind of intellectual prize that’s more rewarding than a digital trophy.

The Talos Principle 2 | Gameplay Trailer

That was the guiding philosophy in 2014’s standout The Talos Principle, and it seems to carry through to its sequel. After playing a sizable chunk of the upcoming puzzle-adventure game (five hours; roughly a quarter of the final game), The Talos Principle 2 is already shaping up to be a worthy successor. Not only does it have a larger scope with much more philosophical waxing, but it doubles down on its predecessor’s inventively designed puzzles too — I already feel like a mad genius.

Bring on the puzzles

In its opening moments, The Talos Principle 2 seems exactly the same as its predecessor. I’m dropped into a desert and sent into puzzle chambers, where I jam electronic doors and place boxes on switches. Completing a puzzle gives me a tetromino piece that I slot into doors to unlock new areas. That’s only a cheeky tutorial, though. I’m quickly pulled out of a simulation machine to discover I’m a robot living in a futuristic society populated by intelligent machines.

While the first game was a lonely experience that relied on lore logs to weave its background story, the sequel puts narrative in the forefront. I spend a chapter simply walking around the hub city chatting with robots and learning about their society. I even get access to a social media site filled with philosophical conversations between bots (if the first game’s heady chatter turned you off, be warned that the sequel cranks it up even more). When a party to celebrate the city’s 1000th robot goes awry, I’m shipped off on an expedition to investigate a mysterious pyramid. To get inside, I’ll need to activate a series of towers in different areas.

And of course, that means solving a lot of puzzles.

A light puzzle in The Talos Principle 2.
Devolver Digital

The general structure is more or less the same as the original from there, though a bit more open-ended. When I travel to an area, I’m free to explore and tackle puzzle chambers in any order I choose. If I wander off the beaten path, I’ll even discover some bonus puzzles, hidden lore logs, environmental secrets, and collectible flames that’ll let me bypass puzzles (that’s especially useful considering there are no hints to be found). Completing eight puzzles allows me to unlock the path to a tower, where I need to place tetromino pieces to build a bridge. It’s a clever little twist on the original’s defining feature.

Puzzle chambers are familiar at first. I’m often trying to get a beam of light to a matching lock by using machines to reflect light over to them. I’m introduced to three new machines during my playthrough that build on that idea. In the first area, I’m working with a new device that attaches to two different colored beams and combines them to create a new one. Hooking it up to a blue and red beam creates a green one, for instance. Naturally, that creates some complex puzzles the deeper I go as I attach splitters to other splitters to direct lights around walls.

The sequel riffs on that further with inverters, which outputs the opposite color of whatever it’s attached to (hooking it up to a blue beam produces a red one). One particularly tricky puzzle has me placing an inverter on a box on top of a fan, unlocking a far-off door with an inverted light stream, and then finding a way to direct both a blue and red beam inside. Solutions often involve multiple beams of light shooting around chambers in all directions.

The demo also introduces a more mind-bending tool that brings a bit of Portal flair: drillers. These devices can open up a portal on specific surfaces, allowing me to move devices or light through them. My favorite puzzle in the whole demo has me drilling a hole in a high wall and finding a way to get a converter high enough to reach it. Putting a converter on a fan seems like the easy answer, but first I have to use the driller to juggle items in and out of a room closed off with a pressure plate.

A puzzle that combines multiple mechanics in The Talos Principle 2.
Devolver Digital

What The Talos Principle 2 does especially well so far is present puzzles that seem physically impossible to solve at first glance. There were plenty of rooms where I felt like a kid trying to understand a magic trick. In almost every one of those cases, though, I was able to string together a solution that left me feeling like a magician myself. I’d only find myself cheating twice, as I discovered two rooms in which I could hop on the walls of the chamber to get to the end room. I’m not sure if that’s an intentional decision or not, but it did leave me feeling a little disappointed in myself.

That’s only a taste of what’s to come. I’m assuming that each open area introduces a new puzzle concept, which means that there could be another nine or so here. I can see late puzzles getting a little overwhelming if I’m juggling that many tools, but I have faith that developer Croteam knows how tricky it can get before reaching the point of frustration. That strength is on full display in the first quarter of the adventure. Like the sequel’s talkative androids, I yearn to uncover every secret I can in this mysterious world. Keep tossing me puzzles that are this well designed and I’ll keep solving them.

The Talos Principle 2 is scheduled to launch this year for PC, Xbox Series X/S, and PS5.

Topics
Giovanni Colantonio
Giovanni is a writer and video producer focusing on happenings in the video game industry. He has contributed stories to…
Overwatch 2 already feels like a return to glory
A still of the Overwatch 2 characters.

I used to be a huge Overwatch junkie. Before dropping the game because it simply got frustrating to play competitive matches, I was hooked on it. I loved playing with my friends, keeping up with the game's always-evolving meta, and winning matches thanks to perfect teamwork. So far, the Overwatch 2 multiplayer beta is reinforcing all of those positives, while keeping negatives mostly out of sight.

Overwatch 2 Gameplay Trailer

Read more
Cult of the Lamb’s town (and cult) building has me hooked
A group of animals praise a lamb in Cult of the Lamb.

My favorite roguelikes are the ones that give players the tools to break the game. The Binding of Isaac is on the top of that list -- I've crashed the game too many times to count at this point. Cult of the Lamb is absolutely not one of those games. It's much tamer. But by combining its own roguelike action with town-building (more cult-building, really) mechanics, it's already set itself apart.

Cult of the Lamb | Sacrifice Yourself in 2022
A lamb in a hard place
My demo of Cult of the Lamb at PAX East 2022 started with the game's titular lamb being led to the slaughter. Animals are sacrificed to keep some old god locked away, but being sacrificed instead sends this lamb straight into that god's arms. It resurrects the lamb to be its conduit in the world and starts a cult in its name.

Read more
Best Alienware Prime Day deals: Cheap gaming laptops and PCs
The Alienware m18 gaming laptop.

The savings that you can get from Prime Day deals will let you afford Prime Day gaming laptop deals and Prime Day gaming PC deals that were previously out of your reach -- and that includes machines made by Alienware. Dell's gaming-focused brand is extremely popular, which is why we think there's going to be lots of demand for this year's Alienware Prime Day deals. We've gathered our favorite Alienware deals for the shopping event for you to browse, but if you want to take advantage of any of them, you need to be quick because stocks may run out at any moment.
Best Alienware gaming laptop Prime Day deals

If you want a portable gaming machine, a gaming laptop is the perfect choice for you, and buying from Alienware gaming laptop Prime Day deals is highly recommended. These machines come at a premium price because of the power that they pack, but you can get them for much cheaper than usual during the shopping event. There's no time to waste though, as other gamers will surely be interested in these offers -- there's no telling how long stocks will last.

Read more