In 1950 Alan Turing, a mathematician and the father of modern day computers developed a test to determine whether a computer can think like a human. If the person conducting the test can’t determine that the answer given is by a computer or an actual person, then the computer is considered to have passed the test. He believed that one day, someone would develop an artificial intelligence capable of fooling humans and pass the Turing Test. Bulkhead Interactive’s first-person puzzle game using the same name, allows players to play through a narrative focused science fiction puzzle platformer.
As Ava Turing, you find yourself awoken from cryosleep, alone and confused on a space station orbiting the Jupiter’s icy moon Europa. With the rest of her crew unaccounted for, the station’s Artificial Intelligence (AI), named Tom informs Ava that he has lost contact with the crew at the research station on the moon’s surface. Given the possibility that the ground team has found life, Ava must venture to the surface and find her crew, dead or alive.
Upon reaching the surface, Tom swiftly explains that the crew has renovated every nook and cranny of the research station. No longer aiming After a couple of puzzles, Ava learns that the team has converted each area into self-contained Turing Tests. Considering the only non-human happened to be Tom, it appears that the team did not want Tom, the only one who wouldn’t be able to solve the puzzles, to find their location or what they were hiding. As mentioned previously, only humans should be able to solve these interactive and thought-provoking puzzles.
Through the games 70+ puzzles in the game, you’ll use an energy manipulation tool to solve even the most challenging rooms. After completing each one, you’ll witness the evolving dynamic relationship between Ava and Tom. Although an artificial intelligence, Tom’s reactions, and demeanor could have fooled me as a genuine human being. He appears to know much more than he is letting on, not a character trait that you’d expect from a machine. In fact, at times, he sounds more lifelike in the way he doubts the current predicament you find yourself in and the motives behind the team’s involvement on Europa. On the other hand, Ava feels like a drone, following Tom’s advice and orders without question for the majority of the game.
Puzzles may vary considerably in size, but each puzzle room equates to the same issue; how to reach the exit door. Although not straightforward, Ava can use the Energy Manipulation Tool to grab energy orbs and shoot them into new locations to open doors and other types of mechanisms. Confined to a single room at first, it doesn’t take long for the puzzles to branch out to multiple chambers, as well as multiple vertical floors, expanding the complexity of the puzzles greatly. I would say that the overwhelming majority of puzzles require you to think outside the box, and the solution may not be immediately apparent. I found the best approach to the puzzles is to walk through the entirety of the room or rooms before acting on a possible solution.
As I mentioned, you’ll need to transfer energy spheres from one location to another. As you attempt to open new doors to exit the room, you may find yourself closing other doors, deactivating magnetic contraptions, turning on conveyor belts, and more. At any point, you can hold only three different spheres, and you’ll always shoot the latest once gathered. With various types providing varying effects, such as permanent, alternating or decaying power potential. As you move the balls of energy around, you must also take in account where you are standing in relation to the room. Many times you’ll find you must be in an exact location to grab a sphere from across the room through a window on the other side of a door, because removing the energy from that exact location closes the door behind you.
The Turing Test will be compared to other games of similar structure, such as Portal, just by the nature of using a contraption to solving room puzzles. Although the narrative is one of the game’s main focus, and you need to be sure to complete the game to experience the entire story, the puzzles are sublime. Plentiful and varying, each set of new puzzles adds new and engagement elements to solving the puzzles, such as moving platforms, harnessing the power of magnetism, and using different types of energy spheres. On the downside, the Xbox One version of the game does have slight hitches and longer loads than I would have liked before each puzzle. I should note that while not all puzzles have a long load before them, enough did to warrant a footnote in the review.
Note: Our review for The Turing Test is based on a digital Xbox One copy of the game, provided by the publisher.