In 1950, Alan Turing developed a test to determine how well a computer could imitate a human, and if a participant would be able to tell the difference between conversing with a computer or another person. The test was named after Turing and shares its name with a recent game release from Bulkhead Interactive, called The Turing Test. From the team that brought you Pneuma: Breath of Life, comes a brand new puzzler that is reminiscent of games like Portal, and also seems to hit all the right notes.
The Turing Test: Xbox One [Reviewed], Windows 10 PC
Developer: Bulkhead Interactive
Publisher: Bulkhead Interactive
Release Date: 30 August 2016
Price: £15.99 [Disclosure: Game Copy Provided by Developer/Publisher]
The Turing Test is a first person puzzler, that challenges you to ponder the question of what it means to be human. You take on the role of Ava Turing, who is part of a crew on an expedition to one of Jupiter’s moons. The ground crew has gone missing after apparently finding a dangerous organism, and you are called out of hyper sleep in order to investigate the incident. So, with the help of Tom, a form of AI onboard the ship, you must venture onto the base and make your way through a series of puzzle rooms. The story is full of mystery and intrigue, which is definitely one of the game’s strongest points. Conversations between Ava and Tom as you enter each puzzle do a good job of telling an interesting story, with a little help from emails and audio logs along the way. While you may partly guess what’s coming, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to fully figure out the ending before it happens. You even have a say in the eventual outcome of the game.
The puzzles themselves start off simple enough and have a gentle but gradual difficulty curve, which should challenge most gamers without presenting anything too unsolvable. Your character, Eva, has an energy weapon, which allows you to move energy balls in between sockets in the test. This allows you to power up sockets to open doors to different areas, or simply to the end of the level. In order to absorb this energy ball, you must be in eye line of it, and close enough to be able to see the prompt to pick it up. Sometimes the sockets are filled with a power block instead, these must be physically picked up and moved to another socket. Figuring out where to place each one in order to get you to the exit is where the main puzzling element comes from, and while some routes to the exit may be completely obvious, later puzzles might require a little more brain power.
Progressing further into the game see players introduced to more elements that will help with the solving of each puzzle. Moving magnets and bridges will become a regular occurrence, as well as pressure pads to open doors and switches to change electric current (that powers platforms that can move up and down). The introduction of different aspects to the levels mean you’ll be spending a while figuring the way out, whilst adding various coloured energy balls that do different things too. The Turing Test succeeds in challenging players and pushing you and your brain to think outside of the box. As you near the game’s end, you’ll also be given the opportunity to also control cameras and robots, which will further aid you in puzzle solving. In between your actual test chambers, you will also come across hidden tests which occur once a chapter. These serve as a slightly different, often harder puzzle for you to solve, and result in you usually gaining access to a room that holds either an audio log or something similar. These give you that extra challenge and add to a fairly short game time as well. A chapter and level select in the main menu means that you can come back to any test you can’t solve, hidden or otherwise, without the worry of losing any actual game progress.
One of my biggest gripes with The Turing Test is that solving the various puzzles can often just comedown to trial and error, rather than actual skill or puzzle solving. Getting stuck on a puzzle every so often does happen, and if you really have no clue of how to solve it, the chances are you’ll just start throwing and pressing things all over the place until you find the answer. Some of the solutions are also a little obscure, and will require you to run through doors while grabbing the energy ball out of the socket within a split second. One other issue that seemed to be fairly prominent in the game was with the loading into new test chambers while I also suffered from a fair amount of lag. Every time I came to a new chamber, the game would stick just before I entered, and stay loading for a while before eventually allowing me enter. Once or twice would not be an issue, but as this happened every single time, it became more than a little annoying.
The game boasts an uneasy or eerie feeling all the way throughout, like something is not quite right, and the look and sound accompanying your testing echoes that same feeling. The dull and lifeless rooms fit in well with the testing theme, and the light music, and often the lack of it, serve as the perfect setting for a game that always feels like something is a little bit off. It’s easy to draw comparisons with both Pneuma and Portal, with the first person gameplay, hidden puzzles, and especially with Portal when you see the hidden rooms, the AI guiding you through (GlaDos/Tom) and the energy weapon that serves as your main way of solving puzzles. The game’s achievements simply challenge you to complete all the puzzles, story wise and optional, so someone determined to get through the whole game will have no problem earning 100% here.
For a game that has been compared with Pneuma and Portal on so many occasions, The Turing Test still manages to stand on its own as a great puzzler. An intriguing story from the start that draws you in, and only grows more interesting with each test. An eerie setting accompanies your testing, and the difficulty seems to curve slowly upwards at just the right rate. It’s hard not to recommend The Turing Test to anyone who loves a first person puzzler, and for someone new to the genre, it’s a pretty much perfect offering.
The Turing Test
- Perfect difficulty curve, that gradually gets harder the more chambers you go through
- Hidden puzzles add a change of pace, as well as more time with the game
- Perfectly eerie setting and soundtrack to accompany intriguing story
- Exciting puzzling concept, similar to Pneuma and Portal
- Some issues with lag and loading into new test chambers
- Some tests feel like trial and error is only chance of solving