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    Light's The Talos Principle (PC)

    [February 23, 2017 09:00:24 AM]
    Gonna be short for this one, because I'm super tired and I have to start getting ready for class soon, but I am very much enjoying The Talos Principle so far. I've finished most of World A (two puzzles left that I haven't gotten around to because it has yet to be revealed what the sigils from them will go towards, and I'm missing 3 of the World A stars). On the note of the stars, 1 is probably linked to the two puzzles I haven't touched. One is in world A1 /somewhere/, and though I've gone looking for it I haven't been able to find it yet. And the third I'm pretty sure is linked to a three-number code where each number is between 1 and 24. No clue what that's going to be, but based on the writings and such I've found so far I anticipate it being some kind of biblical verse or something. I hope the clue is still upcoming, and not something I've overlooked. My completionist tendencies have taken over full force. Oh, and I suppose part of world A I haven't solved is how to get past the wooden boards that block the final teleporter, which I'll need to get the star from the World Above.

    Speaking of the world above, I ventured into the second floor. I'm really curious how this is going to continue to play out. I currently seem to be liking the idea of going against Elohim, but I am /really/ excited to see what consequences that brings. There's a lot of different directions I could see it being taken.

    Progress check aside, I'm enjoying the story as it continues to develop. Not counting the QR message writers or the people mentioned in found written entries, I currently count: 1) Myself, 2) Elohim, 3) The Milton Library Assistant, 4) an unknown entity that I /believe/ to be separate from the MLA that contacted me after I came back from accessing the second floor. They said I was their favorite person for going to the tower, and asked if I'd gotten in trouble or if Elohim had even noticed. That frustrated me, in that I hadn't gotten in trouble but I didn't have a response option to indicate that Elohim /had/ noticed. Because he totally has, hence the repeated warnings. If Elohim is "God", this fourth character strikes me as being "Satan." Or, if Elohim is a false god, this fourth character would likely be the voice of truth and reason. What concerns me, in character, is that Elohim can't track me once I enter the tower but this unknown entity apparently can.

    Writing wise, most of my last round of playing brought up questions of AI citizenship, what it means to be human, the meaning of sentience, and the existence of a soul. Super interesting stuff that I could really ramble a lot about, but as I said, I'm keeping this one kind of short. Well, short for me. Which, apparently, is still four paragraphs. Oops.
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    [February 19, 2017 09:38:35 PM]
    I've reached a crossroads of sorts. I've become immersed enough in the game world of The Talos Principle that I now have to decide which approach I want to take to continuing to play it. Do I continue to attempt to do things "in the wrong order" (which I've played far enough that I do believe the designers have done a good job of making sure the system isn't abused by picking and choosing puzzles) or do I try to walk the completionist route that I usually tend towards? Decisions, decisions. My main concern being that I don't know if there are branching endings or whatever based on how far through the tower you progress, or based on whether you do everything except the tower, etc, etc. Right now I'm leaning towards continuing to try to "jump to the end" by focusing on the tower and only doing other puzzles as they're needed to ascend. But I haven't decided for certain.

    And gold stars are definitely a number one priority. Because I'm a sucker for extras and I really want to see where those lead. I have the one from A2, but that's it so far. Current puzzle solving status: All of A1 except the star, one puzzle from A2 plus star, and one puzzle from A6. Which is exactly enough to grant access to the A elevator that leads to B, C and the Tower.

    As for ethics/story/so forth, the various computer logs you find are fascinating to me. I absolute love this format of storytelling, where instead of progressing through a linear or branching narrative, you're exploring a space the contains the narrative within it. Gone Home did an excellent job of doing this in a way that made you explore linearly, but it looks like The Talos Principle opens up much more freedom. Not infinitely, of course, I will still have to do much of World A before I can look at B or C or the Tower, and so on, but as a storytelling format I do love it.

    As for what "the story" is so far? Still a little hard to tell. I'm now convinced the little graphical things I saw out of the corner of my eye were completely intentional now that I've had a few happen right in front of my face. Clearly the protagonist exists within a virtual space. That virtual space presumably being the product of IAN, and based on records said product possibly being in anticipation of the end of days. Perhaps humanity faced a crisis they couldn't get out of, so sought to digitize themselves to live forever. Or perhaps they were trying to create a virtual space smart enough to create a solution. Or perhaps they were simply trying to store all the knowledge they could before their extinction, in the hopes that life to come would find use of the knowledge and records. As for Elohim himself, based on what I've found he could either be HIM, an AI watching over everything, or a bug in the code that has persisted and grown and managed to take things over.

    Either way, it raises the question of "is he actually deity within the definitions of this virtual space?" The first thing he said was that he created the worlds and your person, but is this true? Is he the architect within this system, putting things together and creating sentient persons? Or is he a manipulator that swooped in to take control and credit? Either way, he clearly must have some form of motive, benign or otherwise.

    What is the motive of God?
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    [February 18, 2017 06:25:28 AM]
    Look at me, being all responsible and remembering to start my class Game Logs before the last minute this time. Gold star me. Speaking of gold stars, apparently there is one somewhere in the game? Based on the locked gate in the temple, and one of the achievements. Alas, I'm getting ahead of myself. I get pretty verbose here, so if you're interested specifically on story/ethical thoughts skip to the fifth paragraph. I started The Talos Principle earlier because it's been on my to-play list for forever and HowLongToBeat estimates its play time at less than Deus Ex, which means I can bash it out fast on top of all my other current projects and then try to tackle Deus Ex for my last OPA. That's the plan, but we'll see what actually happens.

    Anyway, about the Talos Principle. I've been working recently on trying to train myself to play like a designer instead of just someone who enjoys games, so starting out I've been going through kind of slowly, because I'm spending lots of time looking at level design and trying to break the game. Other than finding one place where I could trap myself such that death/reset was the only option, the game has held up pretty well. No camera/player getting stuck or glitching, no other ways to trap myself in unsolvable places, and no success in trying to get to places I shouldn't be able to get to. I have had a couple of moments where I saw a background object instantiate when it probably should have already been there, and I've caught quick glimpses of small graphical glitches, but given the nature of this game I'm not entirely sure whether those were actual bugs or intentional events to hint that in-game the player and map may both be virtual.

    On the note of the player and map being virtual, I find it interesting that death is canonically impermanent. Many games have ways of explaining away the player's death before resetting, and the Talos Principle seems to be one of them. When you die your 'program' restarts, and on one of the first deaths Elohim tells you that you shouldn't hold it against the guardians if they kill you. So that in itself is something I find interesting, as the way a game handles death or a lose state shapes a large amount of the play experience.

    Up to this point, I have played all of Level/World/Door 1, one puzzle from door 6 (reading the signs, it was the furthest puzzle I could solve without going to other worlds to unlock the box and refractor) and I stumbled into an easter egg world that looks like it was an homage to the developers and playtesters. Again, I was looking specifically to find ways to "play the game wrong" to see what would happen from a design perspective. This gave me an interesting insight into what is coming up as I learned a few things. First, the easter egg place showcased some mechanics that I anticipate are upcoming (the refractor, for instance, which I had only seen the symbol do but now think I understand). Second, I was able to completely solve the one puzzle in 6 that wasn't marked as needing the refractor or box. This is interesting to me because, from a design perspective it raises the question of "why was this simple puzzle all the way in level 6?" Normally puzzle games build on the things before it and become progressively more difficult. The entry to level six is biblical Adam/Eve type narration, where "do not eat the fruit" is replaced with "do not enter the tower," so a forbidden location. Looking around within the solvable puzzle in 6, I'm pretty sure if I had the box (which I now realize is probably just a stepping stone) I'll be able to access a part of the map not connected to the puzzles. This would explain the sudden easy puzzle, as from a design perspective the point of that puzzle is not to be "a puzzle to be solved" but rather "an opportunity to get off the rails." Getting off the "correct" path here is clearly intentional in game, but probably a direct violation of Elohim's will. I'm excited to see how that plays out.

    Now, onto story/ethics. Given that this game was on the list of acceptable Analysis games in an Video Games Ethics class, I went into it expecting some degree of moral question or conflict. And I see the potential for that developing, both in and out of game. From the very first Narration provided by Elohim, the game clearly has Judaic/Christian influences as Elohim is the Hebrew for gods and is used as a proper noun in the Hebrew Bible. This face is cited within the first level on a computer terminal. In addition to just the name, much of Elohim's phrasing and attitude are deific, from his introduction as the creator of the world and the protagonist, to his granting of trials and choice and guidance. From a perspective outside of the game, I could see some zealous worshipers finding such reference specifically to the god of the Hebrew Bible blasphemous. I personally haven't seen anything in game that I think would merit such an offense, as so far nothing Elohim has done has struck me as an offensive portrayal or commentary on his namesake, but I still acknowledge the possibility of controversy being raised there. A quick google search of "The Talos Principle Controversy" doesn't seem to yield any results of that nature, though, which I am pleased to see.

    That out of game concern aside, the game definitely seems to touch on Phenomenology early on, with an option at the first accessed terminal being to ask "what am I?" The protagonist is aware that they exist, but doesn't know anything about themselves or the world around them beyond what they can glean from Elohim, the MLA, QR codes, and various local files pulled from terminals. This isn't a moral question, but a definite branch of philosophy that I hope the game continues to explore.

    And while I have only touched it by going to world 6 without visiting 2-5, I suspect the question of "do I obey the commands of god" is going to become a central point of the game. Elohim has forbidden the protagonist from going to the tower, saying that the protagonist will die if they do, so I would be very surprised if going to the tower was not a choice later on. And I will be very disappointed if going to the tower is mandatory, as I think based on the current setup of the game forcing the player to disobey Elohim would remove much of the meaning behind the potential exploration of the relationship between choice and god. I am definitely excited to see how things progress.

    This entry has been edited 1 time. It was last edited on Feb 18th, 2017 at 06:38:58.

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    Light's The Talos Principle (PC)

    Current Status: Finished playing

    GameLog started on: Saturday 18 February, 2017

    GameLog closed on: Thursday 6 April, 2017

    Light's opinion and rating for this game

    Absolutely stellar. Loved it.

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstarstar

    Related Links

    See Light's page

    See info on The Talos Principle

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