If you enjoy puzzle games, I have an exceptional one for you. To celebrate the launch of The Talos Principle II, you can grab a key for the original Talos Principle, a first (or third) person puzzle game, on Steam right now as part of IGN Plus.
IGN Plus Monthly Game: The Talos Principle
The Talos Principle (check out the review) is a fantastically written, well-crafted puzzle game with a healthy side of philosophy. They are like nothing else and, if you ask me (and our reviewer), the sequel is even better. If you want to jump in and simply enjoy it as a puzzle game, you can do that. If you want to dig deeper and figure out what’s going on in this world, you can do that. If you want to explore the meaning of consciousness, what it means to be human, and other heady questions mulled over by philosophers for ages, The Talos Principle has you covered there, too.
The Talos Principle is a modern classic, and The Talos Principle II is every bit the worthy sequel we could have hoped for, and I hope you enjoy both as much as I have. Now onto the interview!
The Talos Principle 2 Gameplay Screenshots
Talos Principle Developer Interview – Jonas & Verena Kyratzes (Narrative Writers)
You’ve said that creating the story for the sequel was challenging because… the first game is very self-contained. What was it like working on the sequel compared to the original? What was that kind of creative process? Were there different types of struggles that you went through? Was there some stuff that was easier when coming back for the sequel?
Jonas: We kind of conceptualized where the story would go for Talos II and Talos III when we were making Talos I, so there was an idea to where it could go. And in fact, there’s a lot of foreshadowing of things in Talos I and in Road To Gehenna, which is DLC, which we probably shouldn’t have sold as DLC because it’s basically an entire game. It’s almost a side-quel. It’s an enormous thing. So there’s a lot of foreshadowing of a lot of important elements of Talos II then. So we knew a lot, but how to then actually make that work, and how to really pay off everything that the first game has set up… That was what made it challenging. That’s what made it different.
What made it different was that you were always building on the first game, and you always had the awareness of the first game. And what we tried to do with the second game was to really follow the logic of the world. At the end of the first game, a new civilization is created. Well, in most games, you would say, ‘Well, yeah, but you know, Tallos I was like this, so Talos II will be exactly the same again, but reskinned. So we’ll send you into another simulation.’ And we were like, ‘No, why don’t we follow the story logic as we really wanted to,’ and that world is there. That means you can talk to people. That means that there’s going to be other people with you, if you go to do something. It means we’re going to be in the real world.
So there were a lot of consequences to that, which we hadn’t thought about on a kind of abstract ‘story’ level. But actually executing that was challenging. And I think that’s always the awareness of, we’re not trying to remake Talos I, we’re trying to continue the story and follow where it leads, while being very respectful towards everything from Talos I, because people are emotionally invested. And because also, we kind of come at it with the idea of, well, this is a serious work of art. So we don’t want to just do something random, just so that we have a premise.
Are there elements in the game, whether artistically or narratively, in Talos I or II, that really speak to you or are your favorites? I’m curious what both of your answers would be.
Verena: I think our answer might be slightly the same, so I’m just gonna go first. [laughs] No, so the first game was very much about ‘what makes a human being a human being,’ which is also why we used so much of older philosophers because that was what a lot of older philosophers talked about. You know, our relationship to the Divine and all that. But in the second game, we talk a lot about what makes us special as a species, what our species should be, what our responsibilities are, both towards the world around us but also towards the individual. And I think what is very important for both Jonas and me is that we take a hopeful view on all of this.
Nowadays, there’s a there’s a real trend towards dystopian storytelling where the storyteller says, “How about we try to change something? How about we we cure cancer?” And then at the end, it’s always like, “It had an unforeseen side effect, and we all died. So maybe we shouldn’t cure cancer.” So we wanted to tell a story that takes the hopeful view. That maybe it’s not going to go wrong, maybe we’re not destined to mess this up. And when I say ‘we,’ I mean ‘robot-kind,’ but they are humans in the framework of the game. That’s what I really care about, to tell a story that still has hope.
Jonas: Yeah… obviously, for me, that’s also the most central thing. This humanist view, this view that’s very much informed by the ‘enlightenment.’ Principles of freedom and progress and belief in humanity, because I think it’s become the default to assume that people are bad. If I’m going to just pick something that I like, in these games, that’s not that, I just like the small touches of humanity that there are in the game.
There’s little conversations, little silly things, or small details that make the world more human. Like, in the first game, the fact that they’re working on the robot body and they end up not being able to decide on a name, so it has two. Or they have a name for us, and then they try to come up with a backronym for it. Little conversations that they have in the second game between each other, teasing each other, that just give us a little bit more about the world and things that have happened in this world. These small moments messy humanity are very important to me.
Q: Is there anything else that you would tell players who are thinking about jumping into The Talos Principle II? Is there any message that each of you would have for them?
Jonas: Mostly I would say; take your time, and just be open to it as an experience. Don’t expect the same thing [as Talos I] exactly. But just allow the story to happen, allow this world to happen around you and immerse yourself in it. I think the best experience of Talos is a slow, meditative exploration of various parts of it. It’s not something to be rushed.
Verena: Yeah, the same essentially. We thought a lot about how to make this game and try to look at it both from the perspective of somebody who had played Talos I and from the perspective of somebody who hadn’t played Talos I and we tried to make the experience interesting for both groups of people. So if you don’t understand something straight away, just assume that somebody thought about where to place the corresponding bit of information very carefully, and just take your time and let it all happen at its own pace. Dive as deep into it as you want to, or just skim the surface, both is completely fine, and enjoy yourself.
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Brian Barnett writes reviews, guides, features, & more for IGN & GameSpot. You can get your fix of his antics on YouTube, Twitch, Twitter, Bluesky, & Backloggd, & check out his fantastic video game talk show, The Platformers, on Spotify & Apple Podcasts.