In the puzzle genre, the buzzword “mind-bending” gets thrown around a lot, but it’s titles like Portal, The Witness, and Viewfinder that really earn it. Now, The Talos Principle 2 is here to join that renowned list, as Croteam offers a new yet familiar sequel to delight curious minds.
The Talos Principle 2 Review: Curiosity Takes the Lead
It’s difficult to know what to expect from a sequel. You might be wondering if TTP2 is just the original Talos but better. For me, I often worry that a predecessor will overshadow the next title, leaving me disappointed. What Croteam has created doesn’t fit into either of those categories.
TTP2 is still everything that we loved from the first game, with its philosophical ponderings and clever puzzles, but it’s also a decidedly different experience all around. It won’t replace the first Talos — because it doesn’t have to. They’re two parts to a beautiful whole, like a puzzle with all its pieces in place.
Whether you’re here for the inquisitive narrative, challenging puzzles, or both, TTP2 is for newcomers and Talos veterans alike. You’re brought up to speed quickly, so that you won’t miss a beat. The sequel seemingly picks up in the same setting as the first. You awake in Elohim’s garden, and a booming, bodiless voice greets you. However, unlike before, you won’t be here for long.
After solving a brief set of puzzles, you wake up yet again. This time, you’re in the real world, set a thousand years after the events of the first game, joining a society full of sentient robots who consider themselves human. Following the mandate of the Founder, the robots have been working toward “the Goal” to bring 1,000 robots into this post-apocalyptic, post-human world. Sporting major main character energy, you’re 1k, of course. Your birth signifies that the city of New Jerusalem is complete, but in true Talos fashion, nothing is ever that simple.
Not only is New Jerusalem struggling with its resources, power management, and politics, but the celebration of your birth is also cut short by the mysterious appearance of a spectral being called Prometheus. Is it real, a mass hallucination hiding in your code, or a strange message from beyond? To find out, you’re sent on an expedition with a small crew of robots to a collection of islands where you’ll find answers, puzzles, and even more questions.
Like the original, TTP2 groups its puzzles into hubs. In each area, you’ll find eight main puzzles, two bonus puzzles (called Lost puzzles), and a Gold Puzzle that unlocks further into the game. For more of a challenge, secret puzzles can be solved outside the standard puzzle rooms, utilizing the environment creatively. Thus, the whole island feels like a puzzle, too.
These hubs are also clustered into threes, taking you to various biomes in the north, west, east, and south islands. At the center is a grand and equally mysterious Megastructure. To access it, you’ll need to activate a tower on each of the 12 islands. In doing so, you’ll receive warnings from incorporeal Greek gods and goddesses that appear from seemingly nothing. It might seem like a lot of parts, but in practice, the loop is straightforward: solve puzzles, build a tetromino bridge, enter the tower, answer questions from the Greek Pantheon, and activate the tower’s laser beam. Rinse and repeat.
As far as challenges go, TTP2 is truly mind-bending with increasingly complex puzzles. Initial puzzles keep things simple, but the more you progress, the more they layer mechanics, so much so that I’d often stand in awe of the solution at the end. You’ll notice familiar tools from the first Talos, such as fans, pressure plates, jammers, and cubes. But Croteam has also introduced various new ones, including RGB Converters, Inverters, Drillers, and even the ability to body-hop into other robots.
Each of these offers interesting, unique conundrums. In a puzzle with multiple Inverters, I had to chain several laser beams to emit the exact color needed. And in a room with three robots, I had to figure out how to keep them on pressure plates while simultaneously in my line of sight to continue body-hopping among them. Whether you’re connecting lasers or coordinating robots, TTP2 is full of satisfying headscratchers and epiphany moments.
As such, you’ll never be without confusion. This harkens back to the difficulty of the original. But it’s also much more accessible this time around. The puzzles themselves never feel truly impossible. Instead, you’ll get the sense that the answer is just elusive rather than non-existent. You can always pause and assess the area without the threat of time-based challenges (like timed buttons in Portal) or dangerous threats preventing you from calmly figuring out a solution.
In fact, The Talos Principle 2 is kind of cozy in that way. I could settle in with a cup of coffee and run around a puzzle room at my own pace. Thankfully, if any of the main set is too challenging, the Lost puzzles count toward the eight needed to unlock the tower. Perhaps the most accessible tool is Prometheus Tokens, which can be redeemed at a terminal inside a puzzle room. These don’t show you the puzzle solution, but they do mark it as complete.
Additionally, TTP2 lets you roam its hubs freely. You can just take in the sights until a puzzle solution comes to mind. I thoroughly enjoyed walking along the visually impressive environments; discovering human artifacts left behind amongst the trees; listening to audio logs from scientists before humanity’s collapse; and running alongside beautiful yet rare wildlife.
In my preview of the game, I talked about how this sequel is a lot less lonely than the original. Not only is this true for your experience in New Jerusalem, but on the expedition, you can also stop and chat with your companions to figure out how they feel about existence, cats, Greek mythology, and more. Their fully-voiced dialogue brings their unique personalities to life, and they’re easy to get attached to. If you ask them to solve puzzles, they will refuse, however.
TTP2 is also abundant with questions, and like the puzzle rooms, they encourage thoughtful consideration and creativity. As mentioned, whenever you reach a tower, spectral Greek gods test you with deep philosophical queries. But you’re also challenged by your companions and other characters throughout the game. There’s even a subplot where you’re encouraged to answer a set of intake questions about a variety of moral conundrums in an effort to join a secret society.
There’s simply no shortage of internal investigation when it comes to the narrative and dialogue. Admittedly, I love this about Talos, but it also means TTP2 is best enjoyed in short bursts. The story requires a level of attention that can be more demanding than even the puzzle portion of the game. And I honestly needed a few breaks from all the philosophy.
When it comes to performance, TTP2 runs excellently on a PC with an RTX 4070 Ti, a Ryzen 7 7700, and 32GB of DDR5 RAM. Every biome is beautifully rendered, character designs intricately detailed, and I didn’t experience any stuttering using the highest settings. Quick loading screens when traveling between hubs also meant I could swiftly get back to pondering those elusive puzzle solutions.
The Talos Principle 2 Review — The Bottom Line
- Compelling and deep storyline, building upon the original game.
- Difficult puzzles that will stump you but are also satisfying to solve.
- A wide variety of new, interesting mechanics.
- Likeable robot companions with distinct personalities.
- Beautiful, varied biomes.
- Performance is great on upgraded hardware.
- It can get too philosophical at times.
- Long play sessions will get tiring from puzzle difficulty and story-based questions.
Overall, puzzler fans will find a lot to love with The Talos Principle 2. It’s thoughtful, hopeful, and adventurous with both its puzzles and its narrative. With new companions and mechanics, it expands upon the experience of the original. Additionally, it pushes its design with the same imagination that it encourages you to use all throughout. Perhaps the best thing of all is you don’t need to be a puzzling genius to enjoy this game. All you need is a little curiosity.
[Note: Croteam provided the PC copy of The Talos Principle 2 used for this review]
The Talos Principle 2 Review: Curiosity Takes the Lead
A brilliant puzzler that will leave you pondering more than its challenges.What Our Ratings Mean