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The Turing Test review: A brisk, breezy test of your humanity

Hayden Dingman | Sept. 2, 2016
Visit the icy shores of Europa

Every year there’s a Portal. I mean, it’s not called Portal or anything, but every year there’s a puzzle game that wears its influences so obviously on its sleeve so as to invite comparisons. Quantum Conundrum, QUBE, Antichamber, The Talos Principle, and now—for 2016—The Turing Test.

Here, the gimmick is electricity instead of portals. But still, it fits the genre. So, how does it stack up?

Fork in a socket

As you might expect from the title, The Turing Test revolves around similar questions of human consciousness and machine intelligence as The Talos Principle. Hell, there’s a reference to the story of Talos hidden within one of The Turing Test’s optional chambers.

The Turing Test

You play as a woman with the bit-too-on-the-nose name of Ava Turing, part of a crew sent to Jupiter’s moon of Europa to drill for energy and search for the possibility of life. A few years into your mission you’re awoken from stasis by an AI named T.O.M. who says communication with the rest of your team has ceased, and you need to find out why.

Arriving on Europa from an orbiting space station, you find that the crew’s living quarters have been rearranged into a series of puzzle chambers, a la Portal, which require “lateral thinking.” This is apparently impossible for T.O.M. (hence the Turing Test title), and so it falls to you to do things like throw boxes through windows and step on switches.

As I said, The Turing Test revolves around electricity—evident by the number of cables draped casually through windows and nailed to the walls. You manipulate the flow of electricity in a number of ways, but most typically by either a) removing fuse-like boxes from walls and placing them in other sockets or b) using your “Energy Manipulation Tool” a.k.a. a gun to suck electricity from the wall and shoot it into new sockets.

The Turing Test

That’s an oversimplification, but it’s decidedly more one-note than something like The Talos Principle or Antichamber. Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily. This is a breezy puzzle game, one where the rules are clear, there are only so many possibilities for each room, and the answer always feels just around the corner. I blasted through all seventy of The Turing Test’s main chambers and its seven optional (slightly more difficult) puzzles in about five hours, and came to appreciate the quick pace. It never grinds, never gets stuck for too long.

That lack of friction also works against The Turing Test, though. You burn through the puzzles, and when you’re done it feels like a blur of similar rooms. There’s not really an a-ha moment, no puzzle that really stands out as the culmination of its ideas. It feels like the puzzles never get as hard as they should, or as hard as they had the potential to be. Wonderful set-up, but no payoff.

 

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