The Talos Principle ($4.99) by Croteam and published by Devolver Digital is the mobile port of the original game released in 2014. If you enjoyed other recent games like The Witness and classics like Portal, then you'll like The Talos Principle.
These days, thanks to the computing power of the devices in our pockets, we're able to have more console games as mobile ports. We've been getting some great ones lately, including The Witness, Thimbleweed Park, OXENFREE, Danmaku Unlimited 3, Steredenn, The Binding of Isaac, Geometry Wars 3, and more. The trend doesn't seem to be stopping anytime soon either, and I'm grateful. There are plenty of games that I haven't been able to try, because I'd prefer having them on my iPhone or even Nintendo Switch. And now that I have The Talos Principle on-the-go, I'm not disappointed.
App Feels Like
App Feels Like
Visually, The Talos Principle is gorgeous and stunning, especially on the Retina HD screen of my iPhone 8 Plus. It reminds me of the graphics in The Witness, except it's much more realistic and less dreamlike. The game's fully rendered in 3D and it's incredibly immersive, pulling you into the tranquil island life. It shifts between first-person and third-person perspective, depending on the puzzle you're solving. The entire world is full of fine details and textures, giving everything a bit of life. Honestly, it's rather impressive that this is just on my iPhone.
As far as music and sound goes, The Talos Principle nails it as well. There's an ambient, atmospheric soundtrack that helps you relax and focus on solving the puzzles on the island. As far as sound effects go, it's rather sensible, with the calming sounds of nature and your own robotic footsteps. The sound design is the other layer of the game that truly draws you into the game world, as it's so well done.
In The Talos Principle, players wake up from a deep sleep and find themselves on an island that's filled with ancient ruins and technology. It's a bit similar to The Witness, but you're a robot here, rather than a human, though you have a human-like consciousness. There's a voice that speaks to you as you wander around, providing guidance, but the question remains: who are you and what is your purpose? The answers to these questions reveal themselves as you make progress on the island by solving puzzles.
The controls in The Talos Principle on mobile are simple and intuitive, though it does take time to get used to. Just tap where you want to move to, and you'll walk over. Swiping your finger horizontally lets you pan the camera around so you can view the surroundings. A two-finger swipe lets you strafe in that direction (left, right, or backward). You can also double tap a spot to run towards it, rather than walk.
When there are objects in the environment that you can interact with, there's an indicator on the screen — just tap it and you interact with it. The game contains over 100 puzzles all across the island, and they involve multiple interactions. These range from picking up portable jammer units to disable turrets and walls, to diverting drones and manipulating laser beams. The puzzles are all different and range from simple to complex. The game also gives players the freedom to complete puzzles in their own way, as it's non-linear.
As you complete puzzles, you'll earn a "sigil" at the end of each one. These sigils are shaped like tetrominos and are the key to unlocking security gates (also puzzles themselves) in order to move on to the next area. There's also some exploration that you can do in the open environments to uncover more puzzles and narrative.
For the most part, the touch screen controls work well enough. However, if you have a MFi controller, The Talos Principle fully supports them. This means a more console-like experience if you have a controller, but it's still playable without.
A beautiful 3D puzzle adventure reminiscent of The Witness.
The Talos Principle is an excellent open-world puzzle adventure that is just jaw-dropping beautiful on your iOS device. If you have a newer device, you'll be glad to know that this game utilizes the power of the Metal API and Serious Engine. The sounds are realistic and immersive, making you feel like you're really there.
Even if you've never played The Talos Principle on other platforms, the game does a bit of handholding in the beginning to help newbies. The tutorial explains the intuitive controls so you don't feel lost, and interacting with the environment is a simple affair. Having support for MFi controllers is just a bonus.
For what it's worth, The Talos Principle is an excellent value on iOS. The game is only $5 and provides at least 20 hours of gameplay (the console versions run about $40). The puzzles are challenging and make you think. And the narrative is excellent, as it explores various aspects of humanity, technology, and civilization.
While The Talos Principle looks fantastic on my iPhone 8 Plus, I did experience some frame rate issues while playing. When I'm trying to pan the camera around quickly or run, there would be some stuttering in the frame rate. It's not a huge dealbreaker, but it is noticeable.
And while the touch controls work alright for the most part, they can get a bit clunky when dealing with time-critical puzzles. A bit more optimization could be used.
It should be noted that the recent update has caused some issues for people, as reflected in the iTunes reviews. Aside from some visual stuttering, I haven't had crashing issues as others are reporting.
As someone who's never played The Talos Principle before, I'm in love with the game. It looks amazing and has great sound design. The controls work okay, but could be better optimized, but at least there is controller support. The story is intriguing from the get-go, and I do love a good existential crisis kind of plot. The puzzles are challenging and there's just a ton of content for the money.
I recommend giving The Talos Principle a try if you've never played it before and enjoy open-world puzzle adventures. The Talos Principle is available on the App Store as a universal download for your iPhone and iPad for just $4.99.