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The Talos Principle VR Review: A Puzzle Classic Feels Right At Home In VR

by Jamie Feltham • October 26th, 2017
Platform: Rift (Reviewed), Vive
Positives

- Brilliantly placed and structured puzzles
- More content than most VR games out there
- Transitions to VR comfortably

Negatives

- VR support only effective on a superficial level
- Not worth a second purchase for those that own it already

Can we just stop for a moment to give Croteam a well-earned pat on the back? In a time when most developers are struggling to commit to VR for good reason, here’s a team that’s not only given us one of the best wave shooters going but two comprehensive ports of its past games, all on Vive and Rift. As if that weren’t enough, it’s now brought over one of the best puzzle games of the last few years to headsets too.

It should be no surprise, then, that The Talos Principle VR is an accomplished translation of the 2014 original into the unwieldy new world of Rift and Vive. Better yet, the game’s considered pacing and mechanics make it a natural fit for the platform and an unmissable puzzle experience, but only if you haven’t played it before.

The Talos Principle casts you as an android that awakens in a mysterious garden with an unseen being calling himself Elohim claiming to be your divine creator. You set about solving challenges he’s laid out for you, which largely involve using turret-like nodes that can disable path-blocking shields, patrolling bombs and motion-sensing machine guns. Eventually, you’ll use these same devices to create circuits between switches, and levels will add additional layers like fans that can shoot you over to inaccessible areas.

Gameplay translates pretty naturally to VR thanks to its simplicity. Using the Vive wands or Touch controllers you can reach out and grab these nodes and then move around the world using one of a vast range of options the developer has supplied (which, again, deserves a pat on the back). The vibrant world around you really shines inside headsets too; this is one of the first VR games in a while that gives you time to stop, breathe and truly appreciate the world around you, with ornaments and objects that really feel like they’re there. Exploring the world of Talos Principle took me back to the DK1 days of the Oculus Rift where you could get simple joy out of just seeing an environment in VR.

That said, headset support is hardly essential to the experience and ultimately I didn’t feel like it was adding enough to warrant a second playthrough of a game I’ve seen through once before. Unlike Resident Evil 7, or even the ports of the Serious Sam games, there are no characters to establish deeper connections with or atmospheric tones that are greatly enhanced by the sense of presence; there’s just pretty stuff to look. If you’re yet to journey through the garden and beyond then you should absolutely be picking up The Talos Principle in VR, but the experience isn’t compelling enough to pull you through a second time unless you really wanted to discover more of the game’s multiple endings, or perhaps haven’t played the Road to Gehenna DLC, which is helpfully included here.

On its own terms, though, it is hard to fault the game’s inventive puzzles, which offer a satisfying mix of challenges just taxing enough to cause pause for thought and then larger, more elaborate trials that it’s possible to get stuck on for a good hour or more. Even across the initial 120+ levels, The Talos Principle never runs out of ways to baffle you, and several puzzles contain even more trying obstacles for hidden stars. It never hits the sheer mechanical ingenuity or innovation of something like Portal, but it’s got a structure and pace that will pull you through without issue.

Final Score: 8/10 – Great

Croteam has done yet another excellent job of bringing one of its past successes to VR; The Talos Principle feels right at home inside your headset. If you’ve never played the game and have a Rift and Vive then this is absolutely one of the best puzzle games to play in VR right now. If you’ve already wrapped you brain around it once, though, it’s tough to recommend revisiting the game in VR. While comprehensive, the game’s VR support is additive at best, enhancing the experience only in a superficial way. Still the same great game, then, but only worth the trip for some.

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  • Fear Monkey

    This needs to come to PSVR, id buy it.

    • ManuOtaku

      I did really like the game, and I haven´t experienced VR yet, but I grant this title will be a solid release on that format, and probably a killer app.

      • Fear Monkey

        Ive been waiting on it hoping it will come to PSVR, but if it doesnt ill eventually get it for PC VR. Im waiting on upgrading my PC to get a Steam VR setup going.

        • ManuOtaku

          It is a great puzzle game, with an interesting setting-story, very philosophical.

        • Sean Lumly

          I too am waiting on a PC update. I think I am personally going to wait for the new Nvidia GPU, and the Pimax 8k (assuming the reviews are good). I will also likely get the Oculus Rift Santa Cruz.

          • Fear Monkey

            I bought the PS4 Pro and dont regret it, VR looks better on it than a regular PS4 but its not a drastic difference though it is noticeable. When I build a new PC I’ll get a headset, my current PC is good enough for VR but the CPU is on the low side, a Intel 3820 i7. I think im going to wait and do the same, get the Pimax 8k and the next gen of GPU’s. For now the PSVR is good enough.

          • Sean Lumly

            Exactly! I *may* still get the Pro this holiday, though I’m not entirely sure about this. In your words: what I have is good enough for the time being. But if I find the Pro at around $300 CAD (plus or minus $100) I will likely buy it.

            But if I am to upgrade, I want it to be dramatic! The Pimax 8K seems like the type of leap that would fit with my philosophy.

  • Sean Lumly

    I own this game, and would easily buy it again to play it in VR.

    • johngrimoldy

      I bought the flat version years ago and picked up the VR version when it became available. I never finished the original version (I’m sure I’m far from alone in that regard). While it’s true that this game is exactly the same content as it was when first released, I’m quite a bit more excited by the VR version than the reviewer. I’d say it’s a must-have for someone that’s never played. For those that have, I’d advise that the VR version is spectacular and it’s worth serious consideration.

      • Sean Lumly

        Nice! My sentiment exactly!

        I have played through the entire game (with all stars), but it has been long enough that I would enjoy solving the puzzles again, even if they are easier the second go around. But I just want to *be* in that world.

        I will have to wait until next year to play it (which is when I build my PC), but I’m really looking forward to TTPvr.