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The Talos Principle 2

Hobknobling

Learned
Joined
Nov 16, 2021
Messages
380
It's weird cuz Jonas Kyratzes' writing is decent overall. As for the tech problems they should be fixed by the time it is released on GOG.
Looks like a lot of the writing was done by his wife(?) Verena Kyratzes. Tom Jubert is also credited for both games.
 

Beggar

Cipher
Joined
Dec 7, 2014
Messages
723
Ok, the writing is so poor I dread any more of NPC's conversations or reading those time capsules. It pretends to ask important questions and quote deep philosophy but in reality it is very flat and rather immature in its tone.
We have our fellow robots asking us about the meaning of sacrifice and progress and just a mere seconds of sprinting away you can browse through a cat images gallery.

Technically the full release has a lot of problems with lighting, shimmering, unnecessary rendering in certain places and so on, I'd refund it and wait a couple more months if I hadn't already played >2 hours.
Lol, same. Would have refunded but was past 2 hours. Game is a complete cringe fest
 

Beowulf

Arcane
Joined
Mar 2, 2015
Messages
1,973
It's weird cuz Jonas Kyratzes' writing is decent overall. As for the tech problems they should be fixed by the time it is released on GOG.
Looks like a lot of the writing was done by his wife(?) Verena Kyratzes. Tom Jubert is also credited for both games.

It's mostly the NPC's and other voiced narration that is cringeworthy and more about modern day sensibilities and trying to inject the ever prevalent meme content (like characters named Doge 666). The text accessible through the terminals is a little bit better and reminiscent of the first game philosophical musings.
 

Beggar

Cipher
Joined
Dec 7, 2014
Messages
723
It's weird cuz Jonas Kyratzes' writing is decent overall. As for the tech problems they should be fixed by the time it is released on GOG.
Looks like a lot of the writing was done by his wife(?) Verena Kyratzes. Tom Jubert is also credited for both games.

It's mostly the NPC's and other voiced narration that is cringeworthy and more about modern day sensibilities and trying to inject the ever prevalent meme content (like characters named Doge 666). The text accessible through the terminals is a little bit better and reminiscent of the first game philosophical musings.
Also puzzles are great. It's more of the same on roids (well it's the second entry). But it's wrapped in a shit towel. Characters saying WOW, YOU'RE DOING GREAT! after solving a puzzle. I feel like a guy with special needs playing this
 

Iucounu

Educated
Joined
Jul 4, 2023
Messages
661
Ok, the writing is so poor I dread any more of NPC's conversations or reading those time capsules. It pretends to ask important questions and quote deep philosophy but in reality it is very flat and rather immature in its tone.
For me that was a problem even in the first game --how is Plato related to AI development? After a while I began to loathe those beeping computer terminals. The female voice actor passing as a computer genius was fortunately avoidable.
 

Darkozric

Arbiter
Edgy
Joined
Jun 3, 2018
Messages
1,710
For me that was a problem even in the first game --how is Plato related to AI development?
I presume it's related to the subject of the difference between intelligence and knowledge.
According to Plato, it’s possible to be intelligent but have little-to-no knowledge about the world or, more importantly, yourself.
In fact, to know that you are not knowledgeable was seen by Plato as being a marker of an extremely advanced intellect.
This is why he devoted much of his early writings to his famous teacher, Socrates.
For most people, though, intelligence is assumed to be proof that they are extremely knowledgeable.
The problem is that lots of other assumptions about the world are based on this major one.

When you start questioning these assumptions, you see that a lot of them have almost no basis in reality.
That’s why many of the people in Athens hated Socrates.
He liked to stop his fellow citizens in the street or at festivities, and ask them a lot of annoying questions about the nature and meaning of certain ideas, like justice or goodness.
In a relatively short period of time, Socrates’s questions revealed that these people - who thought they knew what these concepts meant - had never actually thought about them and, as such, didn’t really know anything about them.
Their knowledge of these important concepts was filled with all kinds of unquestioned assumptions.
AI has a similar sort of problem, primarily because machines are taught by human beings, many of whom have unquestioned assumptions about the world.

Anyway, speaking of the first game, the only "flaw" I can think of was the limited sense of exploration, similar to classic adventures.
You're basically traversing through beautiful "corridors" filled with puzzle rooms.
It was easy to overlook the limited exploration though, since the game utilizes a different concept and has many other values.
 

NoSoup4you

Learned
Joined
Mar 18, 2021
Messages
123
The most impressive thing to me, and I don't know how intentional this was, but... Many puzzles have "wrong" solutions that involve abusing the physics engine or breaking objects out of other puzzles, and it thematically fits the plot of the game.
 

Iucounu

Educated
Joined
Jul 4, 2023
Messages
661
For me that was a problem even in the first game --how is Plato related to AI development?
I presume it's related to the subject of the difference between intelligence and knowledge.
According to Plato, it’s possible to be intelligent but have little-to-no knowledge about the world or, more importantly, yourself.
In fact, to know that you are not knowledgeable was seen by Plato as being a marker of an extremely advanced intellect.
This is why he devoted much of his early writings to his famous teacher, Socrates.
For most people, though, intelligence is assumed to be proof that they are extremely knowledgeable.
The problem is that lots of other assumptions about the world are based on this major one.

When you start questioning these assumptions, you see that a lot of them have almost no basis in reality.
That’s why many of the people in Athens hated Socrates.
He liked to stop his fellow citizens in the street or at festivities, and ask them a lot of annoying questions about the nature and meaning of certain ideas, like justice or goodness.
In a relatively short period of time, Socrates’s questions revealed that these people - who thought they knew what these concepts meant - had never actually thought about them and, as such, didn’t really know anything about them.
Their knowledge of these important concepts was filled with all kinds of unquestioned assumptions.
AI has a similar sort of problem, primarily because machines are taught by human beings, many of whom have unquestioned assumptions about the world.
That makes sense, especially assuming the game's plot is about testing the protagonist's self-knowledge (though most of the actual puzzles seem to have little to do with that).

Anyway, speaking of the first game, the only "flaw" I can think of was the limited sense of exploration, similar to classic adventures.
You're basically traversing through beautiful "corridors" filled with puzzle rooms.
It was easy to overlook the limited exploration though, since the game utilizes a different concept and has many other values.
I didn't mind that so much, and there were quite a few easter eggs to be found by exploration. For me the actual puzzles and environments were the main attractions, and maybe most common puzzles do need corridors as obstacles?

Finding the many "outside the box" puzzle solutions (like NoSoup4you mentioned) might be considered exploration. I admit I had to cheat to find a few; like the one where you jump from the tower, or one where you had to combine two puzzles (I actually thought that one was just buggy at first).
 

Darkozric

Arbiter
Edgy
Joined
Jun 3, 2018
Messages
1,710
I didn't mind that so much
Neither did I. That's why I put flaw in quotation marks. It may sound weird but it's a flaw and it isn't at the same time. Depends on the player's expectations.
If one dives into the game expecting a more open structure exploration like Riven or Rhem for example, it will definitely be considered as a flaw.
But for people who prefer a somewhat different approach with experimental elements, it will not be considered as such.

I have another dilemma right now, do I play Road To Gehenna before the sequel? Or is better to keep it for after the sequel in case it leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
 

Beowulf

Arcane
Joined
Mar 2, 2015
Messages
1,973
As far as I remember, Road To Gehenna had slightly more difficult puzzles, than the base game.
And from the looks of it, it seems that sequel is overall easier? I did 3 full areas with optional puzzles without being stuck even once, whereas I had to look up some solutions for certain Talos Principle 1 secrets and I think for some regular puzzles as well. Or at least take a break to think what needed to be done.
 

Unkillable Cat

LEST WE FORGET
Patron
Joined
May 13, 2009
Messages
27,422
Codex 2014 Make the Codex Great Again! Grab the Codex by the pussy
I tried the first Talos Principle sometime, but I never could get into it.

Maybe it's time for me to revisit it (especially with Serious Sam as the narrator).

Bloated sequel is bloated.
 

Beowulf

Arcane
Joined
Mar 2, 2015
Messages
1,973
Ok, the puzzles do get better the further I progress, but that's tied to new mechanics, which are a nice addition, so far.
But it's also quite easy to do some out of the box solution that might seem like "cheese" that eases the puzzle difficulty considerably.
 

3 others

Scholar
Joined
Aug 11, 2015
Messages
173
Bit the bullet and downloaded the megalomanic installer over the weekend through my 14 baud ISDN. After the first trve puzzle section, i can say that everything in this topic is correct. The puzzles are great, but they are indeed "wrapped in a shit sandwich". The relentless chatbots of (otherwise nice) Reddit Dome especially are an absolutely wretched (thankfully optional) experience to waddle through, and the companions don't shut up with their completely banal chatter even after the game proper has started. The supposed philosophical focus of the game is distilled to one robot going "We should explore this world around us and find out its secrets" and another "We should stay in our city and be safe, sustainable and secure for all eternity" and then both going "So what do you think, playa?" over and over and over and over and over again.

Talos Principle 1 was famously designed as a puzzle sandbox first and the story bolted in afterwards. Talos Principle 2 seems to be built the other way around and is way worse for it, as vidya gaymes tend to be.

Visually, this looks wonderful. The monuments are grand, the trees lush, the surfaces detailed. I understand going cutting edge with Unreal Engine 5.2 is satisfying from a programmer's standpoint but unfortunately there are constant graphical glitches with geometry-defying reflections, volumetric fog effects, shadows & global illumination on lower qualities. You'll also never convince me that bloating a game's installer size from 15GB to 75GB with hi-res textures (AND LOSSLESS REDDIT DIALOGUE FLAC FILES) is ever going to be worth it. I'm not going to zoom in to a fucking blade of grass to admire its tasteful gradient. I'm going to be buzzing around lugging a connector from one pressure plate to another like the retard I am.

All that bitching aside, the game is still really good. The annoying stuff is a surface-level hindrance that stops the game from being a truly memorable classic, but the core action is just as enjoyable and audiovisually impressive as I remember it being the first time around. Once that first low E piano string hits in the main theme, all sins are forgiven.
 

3 others

Scholar
Joined
Aug 11, 2015
Messages
173
The more I think about it, the more I'm baffled by how annoying the writing / pacing of Talos Principle 2 feels. The strength of the first game when compared to other 1st person puzzle games like Antichamber, The Witness, Manifold Garden, and others, is that it tells a story - I've described it as "solid middlebrow scifi" in this very topic. It's understandable that the developers start from a strong narrative structure when designing a sequel. The lead writers are the same - Tom Jubert & Jonas Kyratzes - both with a strong track record. Maybe Mrs. Kyratzes is the X-factor here, but practically every character is so annoyingly banal that it's impossible to pinpoint this on one writer.

And it's not like having exposition-heavy segments in an action/puzzle game is a bad thing in itself. I'd claim the Unatco/Everett etc. levels in the original Deus Ex were a wonderful change of pace, and played a big role in what made it a legendary game. In theory, this could have been the right approach for Talos Principle 2. It seems to just have missed its mark for some odd reason.
 

Darth Roxor

Royal Dongsmith
Staff Member
Joined
May 29, 2008
Messages
1,878,586
Location
Djibouti
Those writung criticisms are enough to just about kill my interest in the game. I remember one of the main reasons Outer Wilds was downright unplayable and insufferable to me was that it was Reddit: The Game, and I can't imagine trying to go through anything like that ever again, especially when keeping in mind how solid was Talos 1.
 

3 others

Scholar
Joined
Aug 11, 2015
Messages
173
Those writung criticisms are enough to just about kill my interest in the game. I remember one of the main reasons Outer Wilds was downright unplayable and insufferable to me was that it was Reddit: The Game, and I can't imagine trying to go through anything like that ever again, especially when keeping in mind how solid was Talos 1.
Whoa whoa let's not get carried away here. To keep things in perspective, the complaints I make only downgrade a 5/5 game to a 4/5 one, and the chatter seems to get toned down after the initial megablast. The reason for my bitching is that you can see the outline of a great game equal to Talos 1 buried in here under the surface layer. I criticize because I care, because that faint echo of "5/" compels me to. Let the contrarian edginess of the Codex be a counterbalance to the unexamined praise found elsewhere, and not a distorted hyperbole that filters you from enjoying a very good 2023 game.

Outer Wilds suffers from a similar issue with frontloading its they/themspeaking alien hobbit interactions in the prologue but once the space opens up for you, it's as good as anything else ever made. I didn't mind the whimsical scribblings of the extinct aliens or the quirky but sparse chats with other spacefarers at all after that point.
 

Beowulf

Arcane
Joined
Mar 2, 2015
Messages
1,973
Correct. The initial chatter gets toned down, but I'm approaching the halfway point and I suspect that I will have to travel to the city again (and a few times more, I'm afraid, as there are achievos tied to the mayor's election).
 

dbx

Arcane
Patron
Joined
Dec 14, 2009
Messages
3,916
It's weird cuz Jonas Kyratzes' writing is decent overall. As for the tech problems they should be fixed by the time it is released on GOG.
Looks like a lot of the writing was done by his wife(?) Verena Kyratzes. Tom Jubert is also credited for both games.

It's weird cuz Jonas Kyratzes' writing is decent overall. As for the tech problems they should be fixed by the time it is released on GOG.
Looks like a lot of the writing was done by his wife(?) Verena Kyratzes. Tom Jubert is also credited for both games.

It's mostly the NPC's and other voiced narration that is cringeworthy and more about modern day sensibilities and trying to inject the ever prevalent meme content (like characters named Doge 666). The text accessible through the terminals is a little bit better and reminiscent of the first game philosophical musings.

So, women ruin something again. Color me surprised.
 

Beowulf

Arcane
Joined
Mar 2, 2015
Messages
1,973
I've heard in one of the reviews that it's his sister. Anyway, the further you go, the less skipping through dialogs you have to endure.
I genuinely enjoy some of the later puzzles and mechanics.
 

Israfael

Arcane
Joined
Sep 21, 2012
Messages
3,650
Pretty nice game, but it has very bad TAA so my eyes burn after playing it for 2 hours. UE5 will probably kill gaming for me.
Maybe Mrs. Kyratzes is the X-factor here, but practically every character is so annoyingly banal that it's impossible to pinpoint this on one writer.
Were you triggered by "limits of growth" perchance? I've just went to the pyramid so I didn't go far, but it feels like this New JEWrusalem thing is done on purpose - it's basically a giant tomb city that old-in-mind robots built for themselves (guided by very unnatural human instinct - to preserve thngs as they were). Very reminiscent of how modern culture can't produce anything except remakes / remasters and self-referential shit as humanity grows older and more sheltered from real life and nature. Also, later it seems the discussion revolves around the concept of pure mind (and can these AIs that were clearly made using the sum knowledge of old humanity can be considered 'pure' in context of their biases and predespositions. I remember there was a huge argument whether GANs and the other types of generative AI can be considered 'creators' or that their 'art' is all purely derivative (my opinion as well))
 

pakoito

Arcane
Patron
Joined
Jun 7, 2012
Messages
3,113
I'm 3 acts and 6 worlds in (so 48 + 6 puzzles, plus a couple of optional ones) and I'm enjoying it; pseudo-intelectual drivel or not the sense of discovery is there through the story. I believe they went for more of a faux-coop feel with the companions, like those you'd find in Halo or Gears of War rather than an CRPG.

The puzzles feel less fiddly and shorter than Talos 1's; the walking about between them I find enjoyable because the scenery is nice. The side-activities are okay, just a couple of simple side-puzzles per world with well-defined descriptions. This ain't no Myst. What I haven't found yet is a world where you get or use gadgets out of their puzzle zones for a grandiose area-wide macro puzzle.

I'm playing on the deck at 30fps with drops with low-to-medium settings, some of the AA implementations are funny because it leaves an afterimage that looks cool.
 
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Beowulf

Arcane
Joined
Mar 2, 2015
Messages
1,973
The puzzles feel less fiddly and shorter than Talos 1's; the walking about between them I find enjoyable because the scenery is nice. The side-activities are okay, just a couple of simple side-puzzles per world with well-defined descriptions. This ain't no Myst. What I haven't found yet is a world where you get or use gadgets out of their puzzle zones for a grandiose area-wide macro puzzle.

In every world with a Pandora puzzle you need to connect it to a green laser, which requires using some tools outside of their original puzzle area - mind you, you don't have to physically carry the tools out, just use their abilities, mostly the Connectors. In South 3 (or South 2) you have to walk around a little to find some tools that were already placed outside the puzzles' area).
Of course, in some areas you can easily abuse the engine to carry the tools outside the puzzles, and I think that sometimes it is even by design, given how easy it is.
 

3 others

Scholar
Joined
Aug 11, 2015
Messages
173
Finished the proper game. Thoughts:

+ The puzzles are very good. Most of the removed elements (mines & turrets) brought very little to the game, were somewhat confusing as to when they would nail you, and would not have fit in a "real-world" setting anyway. The puzzles generally have a single integral core insight that you can work your way towards, and I think none of them had that tedious busywork from some later Talos 1 puzzles. The recorder sadly doesn't make an appearance.
+ The difficulty is well tuned. The people claiming that this is much easier than Talos 1 have lost their perspective. Most people playing this will have played the first game so they are already familiar with the type of thinking required here. One of the levels in (generally considered to be difficult) Road to Gehenna requires you to connect a connector to 2 different color transmitters, which is only the first (well-telegraphed) step in some intermediate puzzles in Talos 2. I had to leave a puzzle in the very first world unsolved and return to it later. These are not cakewalks at all.
+ The pacing is also well tuned. There are 2 additional puzzle rooms per world for you to solve so it's enough to get 8/10 right to progress in the game. There are also reusable level skip tools that you can find if you poke around in the game world. Then there's a handful of postgame brainteasers that open up once you've solved every normal puzzle. Based on N=1, these puzzles are delightfully tricky.
+ Looks wonderful if you've got the rig to run it

~ The game is too long. Although the quality stays high throughout and the final grand puzzle is very enjoyable, I'd have preferred a more concise game. On the other hand, none of the new mechanics really fall on their face either, so it's not obvious what should have been cut. It was enjoyable to solve one world per evening for a few weeks though.
~ Soundtrack is alright but not quite as fitting as in Talos 1. The tunes have more ebbs and flows which brings the music a bit more to the foreground than I'd like in a game like this, and the melodic hooks aren't as good as in Talos 1. None of these make me hope there'll eventually be sheet music available somewhere. The Reddit Dome tune, its later remixes, and the Northern levels string elegy are especially good.
~ Generally not a fan of the scale of the environments. Yes, visually they're impressive, and the way towards puzzle rooms is signposted nicely but returning to solve individual puzzles (or endgame content) later on is a slog. The visits to the big pyramid at the center of the game were mostly annoying towards the end. They're designed well though, you can play the game without the quest compass just fine as there are visible pathways to all relevant hotspots.
~ Talos Principle 2 has a solid central theme. What kind of society will the neo-human robots build after emerging from the Simulation? What is their telos going to be?

- ...but it's not executed well at all. I won't rehash the earlier comments about the banality of the dialogue etc., but the core flaw of the game is that you're supposedly being prodded towards making a monumental choice between two fundamentally different future visions for the society and one of them is so presented obviously correct it makes Bioshock's save/harvest dichotomy seem like a well-nuanced masterpiece. It's like the snare drum in Metallica's St. Anger as described by Lars Ulrich himself: Fame and Fortune vs Despair, Misery and Loss of revenue.
- I read the credits. Jonas Kyratzes' wife Verena Kyratzes is credited as the story writer (Tom Jubert is only a writer for a certain sidequest storyline that didn't even activate for me, maybe that's tied to one shady robot I distanced myself from) so I'm going assume the writing decline from the first game is mostly her influence.
- The star secrets were a mixed bag to begin with in Talos 1 so I respect Croteam trying something different here. While it's easier than in Talos 1 to find that there even is a secret to begin with, their solutions are not particularly interesting.

Overall verdict
:4/5:

Well worth its price. I see little reason to skip this if you liked Talos Principle 1.
 

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