Imagine: you’re on a path and you run into some obstacles. You find a nice little inn and you stop for a while. But one day you realize, “a while” has turned into 20 years. You realize the path is a good one, a worthy one, but for some reason, you’re not on it! You’re not going the rest of the way down the path! You wax nostalgic to the days when you were walking the path and then you get introspective. You begin to question things about life, yourself, even reality. What? Well, I do!
I started down a path over 20 years ago, and after overstaying my welcome at that inn, I got back on the road and I’m nearly at the end of it. Like the delay, the ending also breeds introspection. And yet, I won’t get all weepy! Oh, no! Not me! During my walk down the path, I went from feeling like Sisyphus, pushing a boulder up a hill and having it run me over a few times, to feeling like Socrates when I actually surprised myself from time to time by “getting it right”. I guess the point is, I was feeling somewhat Greek! (Largely because I found myself telling my wife “It’s all greek to me!” but she tunes me out like AM radio.) But like those Greeks, I too wonder about the nature of reality. And how better to do that than playing a video game? (If only Socrates knew what he was missing!) But not all games are created equal, much to the dismay of many a philosopher! Some games are actually really thought-provoking. Some are deep, like Cthulhu. Take for instance the much loved The Talos Principle.
The Talos Principle is a first person puzzle game wherein you wander a most idyllic landscape, while lovely instrumental music plays and the fields are green and the ruins are … well, ruin-y. And, as any idyllic place should, it has robots. And death traps. And computer terminals that pose philosophical conundrums with no answer, but boy howdy, do they make you think. And you realize the game you are playing is far more a game about life with decisions and making better choices that might lead you to better outcomes. OH! I had forgotten one little detail: you get to talk to God throughout the game. (But, as you learn more about your identity, you may not find that as awe-inspiring as it sounds!)
The game has you pondering the question of who you are and what your goal is… I just realized as I typed that how wonderfully Babylon 5 that is: “Who are you? What do you want?” Sorry, I digress… But the “who are you” is one of the main mysteries, as you learn you’re not a human, but a fine looking robot. (Not clockwork droid, sadly, but don’t get all glum; not everyone can be a clockwork droid!) The game puts you through a series of increasingly challenging puzzles but you are not obligated to go through them in a specific order. The game throws some 120 puzzles at you, and if you are of a deep enough character and you read the computer terminals, you are sure to come away even more perplexed by those mysteries of life. And why not? Like watching The Prisoner, you don’t want answers when you can have another mystery to solve at the end, am I right?
This is no action game, and it’s does not have the humor of Portal, but it does make you think. With over 15,000 overwhelmingly positive reviews on my game platform of choice, Steam, this game is bound to appeal. I mentioned Portal and in some ways it is a bit like that, just without Glados. And there is a happy ending in the game, should you chose it. But like not finishing the path, you do get a choice. It took me a while to get there, but I chose right!
Which brings me back to my path. It took a long time, but I’m counting down the days. As of this post, I have 8 more days to go. I’ve pondered and debated and fought with myself. And while I didn’t have a Monty Python visit from “God” (which is good because I hate being asked to collect shrubberies), I am nearing the end of school. Yes, friends, “it’s the end, but the moment has been prepared for…” waiting eight more days! The only thing that makes that more impressive to me than this game, is that the game had walk-throughs and you’re damned right, I used them! I did not have the luxury of a walkthrough for school. Next week, maybe I’ll share how I coped with that. For now, check out the trailer for The Talos Principle. Enjoy! ML