After years of silence, The Talos Principle 2 reappeared last month at the PlayStation Showcase, with a promise of an expanded game world, new types of puzzles, and—of course—"questions about the nature of the cosmos and the purpose of civilization." At tonight's Devolver Direct, we got a glimpse of what that will actually look like, and it is definitely different.
The world of the first Talos Principle is relatively small and uniform: Lush greenery and crumbling ruins inspired by specific periods of human history. The sequel, on the other hand, promises to be bigger, more varied, and as is obvious from the trailer, decidedly stranger. Like the first game, it appears to be a testing ground, but there's no mystery to that aspect of it anymore: Instead, there are questions: "What are we being tested for?"
The range of puzzles has also obviously expanded, which is welcome, but hopefully the difficulty won't go up along with the variety. As much as I liked The Talos Principle, I'm really not very good at puzzle games; the first game did a nearly perfect job of being just difficult enough that I could feel smart for beating it without being hung up for too long in any particular spot, and I'm really not interested in being hit with a exponentially more difficult challenge just because the developers think that's what I'm here for.
I don't think that's too much of a worry, though: The puzzles in The Talos Principle are really more of a means to an end, the "end" in this case being a cleverly-told story filled with entry-level philosophical ruminations, and the gameplay trailer here strongly suggests that's what Talos 2 is aiming for as well.
"I keep thinking, 'Why puzzles?'" the narrator wonders aloud. "Is it just their symbolic value? Because the thing about puzzles is that they can be solved."
That's just the tone of metaphysical bullshit that I'm looking for: I know that when I play this game, I will feel smart without actually being smart. Puzzles that I bang my head against and eventually get tired of and walk away from (as I did with The Witness, which remains unfinished and I don't care) would sink Talos Principle 2's storytelling aspirations, and that's pretty clearly the priority here. From the blurb:
"Set in a distant future where humankind has long been extinct, human culture lives on through interminable robots made in our image. Embarking on a quest to investigate a mysterious megastructure, you will be confronted with questions about the nature of the cosmos, faith versus reason, and the fear of repeating humankind's mistakes."
The Talos Principle 2 is coming to PC later this year by way of Steam and the Epic Games Store. If, like me, you're into the narrative aspect of the whole thing, there are new bits and pieces to dig into at thetalosprinciple.com.