"You set off on a long journey, and you feel you may already be a new person by the time the city is in view. You ask the messenger the name of this place, but he is gone forever. You open your eyes. Welcome to Gehenna."
The end of days is upon us.
Standing trial for your sins
WARNING: In order to write this, I need to spoil some of the original Talos Principle storyline. Like, the ending. And most of the middle. I highly recommend playing through the original game yourself before reading this review. Regardless, spoilers start...now.
The Talos Principle didn't need an expansion. Croteam's philosophical puzzler actually wrapped up quite a bit more neatly than I might've anticipated, given the topics it wrestled with. And yet when I defied Elohim, when I climbed his tower and "ascended" from his little puzzle-garden into an android body, it seemed like a fitting end to the story.
So no, The Talos Principle didn't need an expansion. But I'm still glad we got one.
The expansion, subtitled Road to Gehenna, sort of picks up where the original game left off. Sort of. See, once you ascended and left Elohim behind his entire world--all the puzzles, all the artificial intelligences that had come before you--began to disappear. There was no reason for them to exist anymore. They'd served their purpose.
Rather than continue your original story in the "real world," Road to Gehenna explores the apocalypse. You take control of Uriel, Elohim's messenger, who you might remember from the cryptic communications left on the walls in the original game. In this final moment it falls to you, Uriel, to "save the world." Or at least to save the various artificial intelligences trapped inside. Elohim has seen the error of his ways, and he commands it of you.
That's the basic narrative framework surrounding another batch of Portal-esque puzzles. As you can probably guess from the names above, the game is once again packed with light musings on philosophy and religion. For instance, the titular Gehenna is a biblical term, i.e. "And you shall not be afraid of those who kill the body that are not able to kill the soul; rather be afraid of him who can destroy soul and body in Gehenna," from Matthew 10:28. In layman's terms, Gehenna is sort of like hell (or, at least, that's how many scholars interpret it in the New Testament).
And Gehenna in The Talos Principle is also sort of like hell--Elohim trapped the failed AIs inside puzzles, although none of these entities understand what they did wrong. Their only outlet is Gehenna, basically an Internet forum that gives the illusion of community even if each is imprisoned separately.
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