In recent months I’ve been shifting away from more frantic and hectic experiences, sliding more towards the more calming and slow side of gaming – Turn-based JRPGs, farming simulators, strategy games and simulator games… And, most importantly (and relevant), puzzle games.
The Turing Test is a game that I’ve been interested in for a good while now – A supposed blend of games like Portal and The Talos Principle, The Turing Test thrusts players into a similar puzzle-centric adventure based on a series of decisions that will dictate the direction of the narrative and the path that you take; again, similar to another popular title, The Stanley Parable. It’s clear that The Turing Test wears its inspirations on its sleeve, with a general aesthetic that can simply be described as “Portal in space” – Stuck on a spaceship orbiting Jupiter’s moon, Europa; you’re tasked with navigating the innards of this hulking metal space-beast whilst also coming to terms with T.O.M, more appropriately known as the Technical Operations Manager, and the questions he poses you as you aim to rescue your endangered crew.
Now I’ll start this off by saying that this is not a long game. The entire game will run you around 3 hours, give or take, with most of that time being humming and hah-ing over the various puzzles that you encounter – Out of these, a lot of them revolve around a few core concepts. Place object here, shoot a specific set of targets in a specific way, magnetise a cube and place it here… It’s all incredibly Portal-inspired… Just without the portals. I guess in a weird way though, this lends to the game’s benefit rather than being a detractor – Puzzles are simpler than in Portal, but with that simplicity comes a larger variety, if at the sacrifice of refinement.
The Turing Test lacks that sense of mastery at the cost of variety, but ultimately it doesn’t end up hurting the game too much. What does end up hurting this experience, however, is the game’s narrative. Games like Portal, or The Witness, or The Talos Principle almost never sell themselves on their stories alone, and The Turing Test is no different. The game boasts a deep selection of player-made decisions that would dictate the narrative drastically… However in practice, during the less-than-3 hour timespan the game runs over, these choices are nothing more than arbitrary binary choices that get you to one ending or another. It’s a shame as these endings are neither satisfying nor underwhelming… Just conclusions that neither tie up The Turing Test with a nice little bow, or kicks the package off your doorstep; it’s simply an ‘ending’. The minimum effort conclusion.
Visually The Turing Test looks and performs great on the Switch, with minor framerate hiccups and some murky textures abound… However it’s nothing I would gawk over or fawn at, unlike Diablo 3 or The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – It’s just alright… And I suppose that also translates to the ambient soundtrack. It’s alright. Nothing exemplary, nothing terrible… Just a means to an end. You can really tell where Bulkhead Interactive placed their focus here. The puzzles – When you’re engrossed in finding that elusive solution, The Turing Test works masterfully.
…But when you take your head out of the blinkers, and see the full picture, it’s almost like seeing the centrepiece of a grand, majestic, kingly dining table… It’s magical. Fantastical. Otherworldly, and you want to experience more of it… But then you step away, see the table’s propped up by rotten wood, covered in mold, and has plastic neon kiddie chairs. The minimum effort surrounding a masterclass of an experience and a genre. For that reason, I give The Turing Test a 6.0 / 10