The Talos Principle: Deluxe Edition is an expansive, thought-provoking puzzle game that puts you in the role of the User – an android that's been flung into a mysterious new world without any recollection of how or why it's there. As the User, it's your duty – at least initially – to obey the orders of your 'god', Elohim. This disembodied voice will act as a sort of overseer to your travels, and narrate your actions as you progress through the many challenges that he's laid out for you.
Unsurprisingly, the title sets its focus on familiar themes of robotic sentience and the uprising that often comes with it. For the most part, we've already seen these elements covered before in other releases – such as Valve's highly acclaimed Portal series – but it's worth noting that independent developer Croteam has managed to tackle these questions in a way that's both tasteful, interactive, and appropriate. While the game's writing can come across as being a little ham-fisted at times, there's definitely a legitimate and well-pondered message behind it all.
In addition to Elohim's rather sparse input, there's also a host of terminals and audio logs that are scattered throughout each realm. These points of interest help to shed some light onto the outing's otherwise cryptic backdrop, digging deeper into its genuinely intriguing lore. Finding and accessing these tidbits is generally optional, though, so those who aren't interested in a bit of excess exposure can always just choose to ignore them altogether.
The obstacles that the User will have to overcome in The Talos Principle typically take the form of refreshingly methodical puzzle rooms, each one harnessing its own unique combination of enemies, equipment, and restraints in order to put your brain to the test. The majority of these can be taken on at any given time, which allows for a lot of pleasantly open-ended gameplay, with the exception of any maps that require you to obtain certain upgrades before they can be completed. If a specific problem's got you stumped, then you can simply leave the area at will, and return to it at a later date. It may sound like a trivial feature, but in practice it grants a welcome accessibility to your endeavours that most puzzle games would never even think to provide.
The title excels in its creativity when it comes to these brain-bending instances in particular. As we've already established, you'll unlock a number of different tricks and tools for you to use as you gather sigils from each beaten task. For example, the very first item that you'll encounter is a mechanism known as the Jammer, a turret-like gadget that can be used on numerous technologies in order to disable them from afar – as long as it remains bound to its target, at least.
Croteam plays around with this simple concept in a manner that's nothing short of genius, and the results are similarly inspired. There's something to be said for level design akin to the kind that you'll find here – the sort that manages to keep things compelling and fresh, while only relying on a handful of predetermined assets and mechanics to make everything fall into place.
Alongside its aforementioned open-endedness, The Talos Principle's touching visuals make its environments a joy to explore. Every location houses a very believable, immersive atmosphere – from the opening world's breezy, uninhabited grasslands to its ominously grand hallways. This is built upon even further by the release's incredibly haunting musical score, crisp, responsive sound design, and surprisingly convincing voice acting.
PlayStation 4 owners can also look forward to embarking on further adventures at no extra cost, thanks to the title's first expansion pack, Road to Gehenna, being included in the console's hereditary Deluxe Edition. There's not much to say about it, really – the outing's general tone takes a tighter, more streamlined approach than the main game does with its own – but anything else that the content promises can more or less be derived from its predecessor.
As such, there aren't any new contraptions for you to take advantage of, and the areas that you'll visit don't look all that different from the few that you've already come to know. Regardless, the expansion's writing and puzzle sections are still unwaveringly superb, so if you're comfortable with more of the same, then you're going to feel right at home playing it.
The Talos Principle: Deluxe Edition offers a huge amount of quality, intelligent gameplay for sci-fi fans and puzzle goers alike. Although it tries a little too hard at times, the title's narrative is generally rich and compelling – and there's enough side content available to keep even the most curious of androids busy for hours at a time. If you're in the market for a fulfilling, well-paced puzzler on the PS4, look no further than this one.