The Talos Principle 2 Review

Making a good puzzle game is hard. After all, solving a puzzle is an incredibly subjective pursuit; for every person who might find a specific brain-tickler a doddle, there could be a dozen others who end up bashing their bonce against the monitor trying to solve it. Bearing that developmental challenge in mind, it’s quite the feat indeed that Croteam has been able to craft one of the most satisfying, challenging, accessible, and ultimately doable puzzle games Ive had the pleasure to play. I’m no puzzling expert – heck, Sudoku remains a mystery to me – but Talos Principle 2 gripped me and held my attention from beginning to end.

Don’t worry if you’ve never played the original Talos Principle, as it is not required to thoroughly enjoy this sequel. Organic humanity is dead and gone – likely polished off by Climate Change/War/Plague/Zombies, delete as appropriate – and in our place is a race of sentient robots, a new humanity if you will, who are doing their utmost to avoid making the mistakes of their fleshy ancestors. This means living cautiously and within their means.

All that changes when a mysterious entity visits their city, prompting the newly born bot 1K – that’s you – and a team of charmingly endearing fellow adventurers, to explore a mysterious island that just so happens to be filled from coast to coast with puzzles. The plot that accompanies these puzzles veers too often into philosophical pontificating for my liking, but the dialogue is delivered with such panache by the talented cast that I can forgive the excessive navel-gazing. There’s no need to forgive the gameplay though, as it is exceptional.

As you explore the landscape – in either third or first person, with both perspectives superbly implemented – you’ll encounter enclosed arenas where a puzzle is located. The objective for each puzzle is delightfully straightforward; you simply need to activate the button on a console, but how you reach that console is anything but straightforward. Most puzzles involve the transfer of energy from one point to another, to open a door or activate a fan, say. With perfect pacing, Croteam drip-feeds in new items and gameplay mechanics from puzzle to puzzle, gradually ratcheting up the challenge and difficulty on the way. Soon you’ll be converting energy from one colour laser beam to another, controlling a multitude of robotic clones, drilling holes – definitely not portals, honest, – in walls, and carrying energy in little glowing balls like an Ood from Doctor Who.

The masterstroke is that each new gameplay element is given enough room to breathe, enabling the player to explore and innovate on each possible application of the device. Then, later in the game, every mechanic returns in gloriously unexpected combinations, ensuring original uses are rewarded and that out-of-the-box thinking leads to fantastically creative ways to solve previously baffling puzzles.

It’s a compelling and addictive gameplay loop, one that keeps you puzzling long into the night. Brilliantly, the enclosed nature of each puzzle makes them eminently solvable. It also makes them unbreakable, no matter how messy the predicament you end up in there will be several ways to extricate yourself. You can trust that each puzzle can be solved as Talos Principle 2 never lets you down.

In part, this is due to Talos Principle 2 being, at least on my play-through, entirely glitch and bug-free. A remarkable feat by modern gaming standards. Visually the game is gorgeous too – there’s sumptuous vistas, minute environmental details, and an enthralling atmosphere are the name of the game here. But really, it’s the puzzles that are the main event. Those immaculate and perfectly crafted puzzles. A towering achievement.

Talos Principle 2 is the best puzzler since 2011. This is as good as the genre gets and absolutely essential for puzzle game fans.
  • Perfectly judged puzzles
  • Remains excellently accessible
  • Top-notch voice-over work
  • Visually resplendent
  • The plot gets a bit too cold-philosophising for my liking.