STAFF REVIEW of Turing Test, The (Xbox One)

Tuesday, September 13, 2016.
by Brent Roberts

Turing Test, The Box art Can a computer ever hold a conversation with a human being and pass along useful information? How does a computer value the information they are exposed to versus how a a human does, and what is their perception of value? These are just a few questions that are the foundation for Bulkhead Interactive's latest game, The Turing Test. In a sort of 2001 A Space Odyssey meets Portal, The Turing Test sets you on a psychological path of intrigue and self-examination. Grab your spacesuit, because our adventure starts now.

The Turing Project starts out introducing Ava, who is apparently waking from cryostasis sleep aboard a space station that is orbiting Europa, which is one of the many moons of Jupiter. You're awoken because the crew that has traveled to the surface is encountering an emergency and they are in need of support and you are the one they can call upon. When you wake you're greeted by TOM, who is the game's advanced computer system. Think of TOM like the computer HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Throughout your adventure TOM and Ava's conversations tend to dwell on philosophical points of interest as well as choices of morality and life. I won't say any more about the plot because it's one to be experienced, and you as a gamer should not have the experience ruined.

The Turing Test is first and foremost a puzzle game. Various switches and power orbs must be manipulated in order to advance from room to room and progress the story. It's pretty straight forward, which is a benefit to the player. The controls consist of the LT and RT to grab and release orbs, via your repair tool, and the X button is used to grab and manipulate selectable objects, such as power conduit boxes and other items throughout the base. Finally, the Left Stick is used to walk while the Right Stick controls the camera. There isn't any training in terms of a walkthrough, but there isn't much in terms of controls that would lead one to be perplexed by what to do next, because that's the puzzles job.

Just like any other games of a similar nature, the object is to go from one room to another solving puzzles along the way. That is where a lot of the joy is found. There will be times when you are so perplexed by a puzzle that you think it's impossible, but if you calm yourself and think logically, then the answer may not be as hidden as you thought it to be. One thing I will make note of is that line of sight is critically important to solve many of the puzzles. Another tip that I learned is that the conduit boxes are actually more important than the regular orbs. The reason for this is that your repair tool can hold up to 3 orbs at a time and you can carry one box, so at any given time you can manage up to 4 different items at once. This is very handy and as you progress through the game you will see why the boxes are more important than the orbs.

Being that this is a game set in outer space you would think that the graphics of the game would be incredible, and for the most part you would be right. There is little to experience outside of the constant puzzle after puzzle between every room, but what is available is done very well. Going through the crew quarters and reading the journals left behind and seeing the pictures of children waiting at home, or a faithful golden retriever, helps establish a bond that enables you to sense something is broken in some way and it's up to you to figure out why and help. While the game looks very good, what really stands out in the area of the presentation is the sound.

The start screen itself just blew me away with its tranquil melodies and piano work. I honestly sat there for over 15 minutes just listening to the music on the start screen where I could actually feel my blood pressure dropping at least 15 points. It's incredibly calming and the wondrous thing about the music is that the same quality carries with you throughout the entire game. This is one of, if not the best, quality of the game, but it's not just the music that gets thumbs up. The voice acting is some of the best I've heard in a very long time and not something you would expect from a game that is 1/3 the cost of regular retail.

There are just a few drawbacks to this quality gaming experience that should be mentioned. For starters, the load times in between chapters are quite long. Being that the game doesn't have very many chapters this not only takes you out of the adventure somewhat, but it also highlights the fact that it's a short game on its own. I also discovered that in Chapter 1, whenever you complete a puzzle you go through a hallway full of scanners which are relatively pointless, then you're smoothly transitioned into the next puzzle room. After Chapter 1 though that all stops as you hit a blue loading wall where your character freezes, and a blue loading screen is superimposed on top of what you can see, and this happens after every single room, so any sort of fluidity is not only set back but sometimes removed completely. Not the best way to go considering the game is short and you experience this numerous times.

Priced at $20, The Turing Test is so much more than just a puzzle game, a platforming game, or anything like that. It's a voyage into the morality and the complex nature of the human psyche and its development, construction, and more importantly management of true artificial intelligence. This game is worth every penny, even with a few bumps in the road. If you're a fan of puzzles, and appreciate a fantastic story laid out in beautiful graphic detail that is complimented by a soundtrack and soundscape that is of the top tier quality, then The Turing Test is an absolute must buy for you.

Being able to purchase the soundtrack separately please?

Overall: 8.5 / 10
Gameplay: 8.0 / 10
Visuals: 8.0 / 10
Sound: 9.0 / 10


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