Bulkhead Interactive’s latest title, The Turing Test, is a first person puzzler with hints of Portal-style gameplay set in a sci-fi world that will make you question what actually makes something human. Let’s just say it takes its monicker seriously as you guide the lead character Ava Turing through a series of tests that only a human, or human equivalent AI can solve en route to discovering what happened to an ISA crew stationed on Jupiter’s Europa moon. Along the way you’re guided by an advanced AI named T.O.M., who is a mix of Portal’s GLaDOS and 2001’s HAL 9000, as it works with you throughout the journey to figure out what happened to the Europa crew.
T.O.M.’s motives are suspect at best, so throughout the journey his dialogue will cause you to wonder what truths he’s hiding, as well as questioning who or what Ava really may be. By the conclusion you will still be left with questions about what you just experienced and what really happened to the crew and Ava, which is why it’s such an intriguing, yet deep narrative to ponder.
I’ll leave the story alone because you need to experience it for yourself to see what conclusions you formulate, but like I mentioned earlier the narrative is what drives your own curiosity and makes it hard to put the game down as you just want to find out what the hell is going on with T.O.M., and the missing Europa crew. In terms of gameplay The Turing Test employs Portal’s now iconic first person puzzler format, so there are no enemies to vanquish or boxes to shoot up even though you’re presented with traditional FPS controls. Ava has an EMT (Energy Manipulation Tool) gun that allows her to transfer power to items like door locks, as well as eventually allowing her to control robots to help her solve puzzles and move on to the next room. That pretty much sums up the gameplay, and while it may not be action oriented, the puzzles themselves provide enough of a challenge to suck you into the world to keep solving Turing Tests until the final room in the final chapter.
All of the game’s puzzles essentially require you to traverse through a room and collect the requisite amount of power orbs to open a locked exit door, which in turn will take you to the next level once opened. The puzzles start out pretty basic, and feel a bit repetitive at first, but once you hit the later chapters they’ll start messing with your grey matter like a solid puzzle game should. I didn’t find any of the puzzles to be insanely complicated, but more than a few took upwards of 30-minutes or more to wrap my head around. With that being said, The Turing Test is definitely one of those games that can make you feel really intelligent, or as dumb as a box of rocks when you solve each puzzle. Some you will complete in seconds, which makes you feel as smart as Alan Turing–the Father of computers and logical programming–while others will mess with you for extended periods of time until you realize that the solution was way simpler than what you tried to concoct in your feeble little mind. I’m always a fan of a game that can make you feel like you accomplished something outside of a high score or a body count, so if you need your self-esteemed boosted, or possibly taken down a few notches, The Turing Test is just what the shrink ordered.
This game is also a value at just $20 as it provides 5-8 hours to complete depending on your puzzle solving skills and if you’re a cheater. If you look up the solutions online you can bang this game out in under two hours, but due to the reasons mentioned above I implore you to refrain from taking the easy way out. You’ll curse me on a few of the later puzzles, which took me way longer than I’d like to admit, but in the end you’ll feel like a better gamer and human for completing the challenges this game offers.
The Turing Test is a great first person puzzler that draws from Portal in terms of gameplay, but also manages to create its own unique experience with a narrative that is just as mysterious and engaging as Valve’s smash hit. The conclusion may be a bit too open ended for some people, especially those who want a clear cut resolution to the story, but those of you who like to be left with a somewhat open resolution to form your own theories on, you’ll dig how this game wraps up. For the price it’s definitely worth checking out on the Xbox One or PC platform, so if you want to see how dumb you’ve gotten over the years, The Turing Test will definitely entertain you as you realize that you’re not as sharp as you used to be in the old brain department.
“Making you a better geek, one post at a time!”
Review Statement: The author of this review received a Xbox One code from the publisher for the purposes of this review.