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Old 04-19-2015, 08:49 PM   #1  
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Over the last week, I've been playing The Talos Principle, which for one reason or another I didn't pick up until now! (Read: University reasons.)

I didn't see many discussions on the board where I could share my thoughts, so I thought I'd just go ahead and start my own thread - I mean hey, most of you guys were Beta Testers after all, why would you need to discuss it here?

I was honestly pretty blown away by the game. If Serious Sam HD 'scored a nearly perfect 97 in the grumbleton survey', then Talos scored an even more 'nearly perfect' 99.

That isn't to say the game isn't without issues. Despite being repeatedly labelled as an 'mlg pro gamer', I'm not really the most dexterous at avoiding the terrifying mine-robots. Often, I could see the solution to a puzzle, and I knew exactly how to execute it, I just kept screwing up - and then had to do all the tedious setting up again, only to fail later. This was my one major gripe about the game. A minor gripe is that some of the puzzles felt a little repetitive, but I think that this is a sign that the game is intended to be played over a longer stretch of time with plentiful breaks than the marathon I was trying to compress it into.

It has been a long time since I have as immersed into a game's universe as I was with Talos. At times, I felt a lot like the little AIs must have done. I looked around Elohim's garden starry eyed and tried to figure out what was going on, and what my purpose to be here was. "It is clear I am not the first to travel these lands, and if you read this, then I am not the last." I was struck by the desolation of Elohim's Garden, juxtaposed with the many messages left on the walls. (I saw some of these messages were written by names I recognised (eg: Solais, NoMercy Rider), and at first assumed these were inserts as recognition of their beta-testing status, it was only when I found my first paint bucket that I realised otherwise. I thought it was very neat how they explained that the AI names were pulled from 'a log of online gamer handles'.) I liked reading the thoughts of the other AI, and it made me question my take on the world. I especially liked the 'One with Faith' personality. I may be wrong, but I got the impression that this was one of the first AI that had been spawned in THE PROCESS, as it was the most put-out by Elohim's strange world. Whenever I saw a termination log, I always questioned where *my* ancestor AI failed. I kept hoping I would see it. I think it would be interesting to see the family tree of the AI - I'm sure it would be possible to make from the details ingame.

I really enjoyed piecing together what had happened to the humans from the data on the terminals. "They knew it was coming... about a year? Asteroid? No, can't be, they die off individually... Hmm... something which didn't affect pets... Enough time to try to set up these projects... Virus?" It was actually very sad to think about. There were entries from the blogs and such, saying how it was nearly the end and that they wanted to spend time with their family. It made me think of these forums, and how if one of us suddenly stopped coming online, it would be almost impossible to ascertain what had happened. It also made me think about what is important in my life. I thought - "If I knew I had but five days to live, what would I want to do?"

I really enjoyed being able to Make My Mark on the world. Some of my marks may have been fairly obnoxious, (Such as this one, right outside the starter gate, where the ai hasn't even heard of the tower, or another where I attempted to paint over the number from one of the star-locked worlds.) but I feel that if I were an AI in this situation, I would want to share with any who followed me that 'Elohim lied about the tower', or in some cases to remind the others that they are not alone (I remember hiding my QR code in some far off location in one of the Egypt chapters.). I wish there were many many many more QR code messages to choose from. It gets to a certain point where you really know that Frogs Are People Too.

The picture of exactly what was going on slowly got clearer as I played the game more. At first I thought some of the graphical glitches in the world were from my GPU having a heart attack (More poor little 670 struggled with Talos - average 45 FPS at my resolution. I guess the 9001 polygons per krundle was too much.), but I slowly realised that these were being caused by the same data corruption that was ruining our boy Milton's archive. Unlike some of the players I saw on Steam Community or Youtube, I realised that the whole thing was a simulation before the end of the game, and hence some of the touches I saw felt really nice, for example, I liked when I made the connection that by 'The Hidden Words', Elohim meant the 'Code of the Simulation', and that by 'I am the words', Elohim meant that he was an AI in the Sim also. On another note, I was taken by surprise by the hole-in-the-floor in the level that was used for the public test. I hadn't noticed the hole, and when I suddenly found myself falling I was very surprised. I got a very Portal 2 -esque feeling of 'escaping the testing area' and that the world was falling apart, slowly. I would have liked to have seen more of these areas in the game.

The first ending I achieved was the [S] Ascend, where you get reset. I thought this ending was really neat, and it finally clicked into place everything I had read to realise exactly what the purpose of the simulation was. Because of the name 'simulation' that had been assigned to it/I had assigned it, I was wondering what the humans had been trying to simulate/trying to model. I hadn't considered that it would be to iteratively improve the AI. For those wondering, I had unlocked all of Elohim's sigils but had only done a few floors of the tower, and actually thought that climbing the tower would get me a bad ending, for some reason. I guess Elohim got through to me. It is only now that I realise he never did anything to show the power he claimed to wield, other than banishing some glitches one time.

The second and third endings I got, [S] Transcend and 'Sacrifice Yourself', respectively, were also neat in their own way, though I didn't get the same 'mind blown' feeling I got from my first ending. That being said, I thought the Transcend ending was really tense. How it's a three way standoff, with Elohim trying to stop you with the Electrical Storm, and Samsara trying to stop you with her antics, and you and The Shepard teaming up. The Electrical Storm was so intense, I really loved the feeling of the world being ripped apart as I was fighting to understand the puzzle, really well done. Really well done. And Elohim's lines. Oh my god, I really want to replay that section just for those two things!

In hindsight, I'm glad I did the endings in the order I did them. It made me feel that I wasn't "the chosen one", but that I was just "one of many near-misses.". A trope I don't like in video games is that you always play as somebody special, and it was nice for Talos to play out in the way it did. I'm particularly fond of the 'Blessed Messenger'/'Sacrifice Yourself' ending. I don't know why, but I've always liked endings in games where you sacrifice yourself -
I teared up at Bioshock 2 for that very reason.
I like the idea that my AI will help to improve the AI of my friends when they play the game. It seems noble. However, I still wanted to tell Elohim to go screw himself.

I really enjoyed the easter eggs in the game. The first I found was the Papers, Please easter egg. I left a QR code message there that I thought was kinda of appropriate! I also told our friend Angelo about an easter egg he features in that he didn't even know about, haha. I saw a guide online, and I see that there are many more easter eggs I didn't find yet. I'm eager to explore these.

One touch that I really liked, but I don't know why, is that some of the levels had areas with blank signs and empty rooms. If I had a screenshot, I'd link it, but I don't. Some of you may not have noticed this, so I'll explain: The test room signs, which say which sigil is inside? Some of the 'exploration' areas in the game have one of those, except no sigil is displayed. The area is very empty inside. I'm not sure if these areas were once puzzles that you beta-tester guys found too hard/not fun, or if they were to imply that the humans died out before finishing the sim, but I liked these areas.

In some levels, I saw a random recording, recording 23, I believe, just wandering around. Does anyone have an explanation for this?

Shout out to Vasile for the guide with the hints of where to look for some of the stars! It was nice to be able to search without being told outright.

I still need some more time to absorb and collect my thoughts on the game. I'm sure I'm going to give it another playthrough, and also a playthrough with the new Sam voice pack. For now, until I have further thoughts, I'm going to leave this here.

It'd be really cool to have a discussion with you guys about the game, I'm just itching to! It's one of the few games I'd classify as more 'art-form' than simple 'game'.

Peace!

Jetroid.

Edit:

One line from the game has really stuck with me, and it really makes me want to create something:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alexandra Drennan
I hope you can find something in all those files - a song, a book, a movie, -maybe a game - just something that you'll love, that makes you realize how much poorer the universe would have been without it. I really hope so, because... a lot of people made a lot of sacrifices to preserve it all.
It made me think of all the things in which I value. I want to create something that somebody else could value too. Croteam have certainly done this for me, both with Serious Sam and with The Talos Principle. The fact that I keep returning to these forums after eight years is a testament to that.
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Old 04-19-2015, 11:03 PM   #2  
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Default Re: My Thoughts

First off, it's pretty awesome you took the time to write all that... I tend to feel like most people probably auto-pilot in videogames and miss out on the experiences and meanings behind them, or they just really don't care about discussing games in any sort of capacity. While the story and dialogue isn't really fresh on my mind anymore (it's been a long time since my initial impressions), I can talk about the things that stuck with me.

Your experiences with the game mirror a lot of mine... The act of discovery and slowly piecing things together.
I didn't trust Elohim at all, but I also didn't even go into the tower until I did all of the main puzzles. A lot of the Milton dialogue put me in the mindset of "I don't trust you, but I also don't trust him." I still believed Milton more, though, due to Elohim not wanting you to listen to him. Trying to silence someone is more sketchy than someone who is just spreading polarizing ideas. The endings pretty much changed my opinion of Elohim... "You were always meant to defy me"... that really strikes an emotional note for me. He made things hard for you because it was for your own good. You were created for a better purpose... a less selfish one that isn't really about you or Elohim in the overall scope.

To speak on some of the more vague things... The empty "chambers" (so to speak) were puzzles that were removed due to being redundant. There were more actually a decent amount removed, but those that you can find just fill the space well, I guess you could say. In the context of the story I think it helps add to the illusion, and raises more questions which is always fun. I think it's one of those things that happens organically through development that you would never normally implement or think about. I think Croteam did a great job realizing the opportunity, leaving them with the fallen signs next to them.

The recordings I don't think serve a purpose (or at least, not a definitely written one), but they add flavor. They're just meant to aid your sense of discovery, show you that you're not alone (there were others before you exploring these lands), and to somewhat foreshadow the recording mechanic.

I think TTP leaves more of an impression than most games have on me... the writing is super well done, and there are tons of quotes that stuck with me. Pretty much all of Alexandra's recordings leave me thinking about things. Then there are QR codes that express deep thoughts... "There is so much beauty in these hidden corners of the world, even if they have no purpose." (Reply) "Perhaps they are beautiful because they have no purpose."
Even just these two sentences cause me to think more about things. Nature is beautiful, we spend a lot of time caring about trivial things and forget simple pleasures... and my thought process goes to applying this to people... "people that aren't there to impress you are more real and interesting than those that are." Kind of a stretch, but the writing really gets me thinking.

Talos is just a super interesting game to me.
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Old 04-20-2015, 02:44 AM   #3  
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Default Re: My Thoughts

It's interesting that you think Samsara as a she too, as I also thought of that too, but I was a minority.

Also I see it wasn't just me trying to paint QR codes at weird places, like on the numbers and such.
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Old 04-20-2015, 03:15 PM   #4  
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Default Re: My Thoughts

Quote:
Originally Posted by MasterEvilAce View Post
First off, it's pretty awesome you took the time to write all that...
Thanks, I felt that it was worth typing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MasterEvilAce View Post
I also didn't even go into the tower until I did all of the main puzzles.
Haha, I went in as soon as I finished World A.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MasterEvilAce View Post
A lot of the Milton dialogue put me in the mindset of "I don't trust you, but I also don't trust him." I still believed Milton more, though, due to Elohim not wanting you to listen to him.
I actually found myself agreeing with Milton on a lot of his points. That being said, I feel that the AI that I was probably descended from was Sheep - I'm kind of a blank canvas, and honestly I'm not really sure what I believe, other than having strong left-wing feelings.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MasterEvilAce View Post
The endings pretty much changed my opinion of Elohim... "You were always meant to defy me"... that really strikes an emotional note for me. He made things hard for you because it was for your own good. You were created for a better purpose... a less selfish one that isn't really about you or Elohim in the overall scope.
I felt here that Elohim was actually pretending that "this is the correct path" as a way of psyching you into turning back. I'm not sure if it's even POSSIBLE to turn back at that point. "So be it. Let your will be done." felt like more of a sigh in the resignation that Elohim's death was now inevitable.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MasterEvilAce View Post
To speak on some of the more vague things... The empty "chambers" (so to speak) were puzzles that were removed due to being redundant. There were more actually a decent amount removed, but those that you can find just fill the space well, I guess you could say.
Thought so! Yeah, they were very neat!

Quote:
Originally Posted by MasterEvilAce View Post
The recordings I don't think serve a purpose (or at least, not a definitely written one), but they add flavor. They're just meant to aid your sense of discovery, show you that you're not alone (there were others before you exploring these lands), and to somewhat foreshadow the recording mechanic.
Sure! The Kamikaze droid still scared me though!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Solais View Post
It's interesting that you think Samsara as a she too, as I also thought of that too, but I was a minority.
Samsara just seemed like a feminine name to me? Also, some of the text had a distinctly feminine vibe.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Solais View Post
Also I see it wasn't just me trying to paint QR codes at weird places, like on the numbers and such.
Yes! I saw your QR in the crate museum easter egg!
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Old 04-20-2015, 03:38 PM   #5  
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Default Re: My Thoughts

Actually, The Shepherd was the only one who descended from Sheep, while keeping all his memories as Sheep. Sheep's termination QR code is found on Floor 4 I think?
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Old 04-20-2015, 06:39 PM   #6  
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Default Re: My Thoughts

I did one QR code underwater and one somewhere near the level border (The Words)
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Old 04-20-2015, 08:33 PM   #7  
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Default Re: My Thoughts

Quote:
Originally Posted by Solais View Post
Actually, The Shepherd was the only one who descended from Sheep, while keeping all his memories as Sheep. Sheep's termination QR code is found on Floor 4 I think?
What I meant was that Sheep always seems confused, asking for help, following the flow. That's how I am!
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