Alan Turing developed the Turing test in 1950. It’s purpose is to test a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behavior equivalent to, or indistinguishable from, that of a human. This is the premise of which the namesake game also draws its allure.
The Turing Test is easily missable. It is not the most intriguing subject to appeal the masses. There is no epic gunfights or massive explosions. It is just room after room of puzzles. Research station in foreign planet is a fitting location to conduct the experiment. After the first hour or so you start paying attention to conversations between the engineer Ava Turing and T.O.M. (Technical Operations Machine), an artificial intelligence that monitors the project. Ava has been cryosleep when rest of the crew have already been working on mining the planet. T.O.M. seems to know something that Ava don’t and urges her to move deeper in to the station solving puzzles along the way.
Even though some of the puzzles are well thought out and challenging, others are just too easy, and then there is the ones that don’t make much sense.
To help with the puzzles, Ava have an “orb gun” which can suck up different colored orbs from storage places located in walls and ceilings. Then those orbs can be shot to open doors or activate switches. She can also carry boxes, insert them into the switch or activate pressure plates on the floor, for example. Even though some of the puzzles are well thought out and challenging, others are just too easy, and then there is the ones that don’t make much sense. The situation where you need to time your actions correctly or when the solution requires multiple steps in right the order, are the moments to remember. Other end of the spectrum are the puzzles where you just need to take a light orb from one location (which is not hard to find) and shoot it on another with your tech gun – the door to the next room opens. Not fun or challenging.
One puzzle in particular stuck with me as the kind I could have lived without. I couldn’t find a way to open a next door after I already used the only orb to open the first door in the room. The switch to the door is located on the same wall as the door, so if you take the orb from the switch, the door will close. You are either stuck in the first room with orb loaded into your gun or in the second room without an orb. I was able to solve this by standing in the first doorway and slowly hinging back into the room, at the same time testing when my gun would register the orb on the switch next to the door. I couldn’t see the orb but I could see the switch and I was just hoping I could take the orb without moving too far from the door so that I can be on the other side when I take the orb and door closes. I don’t know if that was the only way to solve the puzzle, but it fought against the principles of the game. It felt almost like cheating. Like I was taking the orb to the next door even when it should be keeping the first door open. There were no openings or other orbs which you will find on other puzzles in a similar nature.
Clean environment of the research station fits well for this kind of game. This is an experiment – a Turing test if you will – for Ava and T.O.M. and tests should be executed in an environment without distractions. The graphics aren’t great, but there is nothing much to criticize either. The game sounds and looks as you would expect. It doesn’t dazzle you with photo-realistic graphics, but on the other hand it doesn’t need to. Most of the effort has been put to designing the puzzles and that is a good strategy. There are couple of missteps here and there but the overall quality is very good. There were many moments of epiphany during my play-through. Then again, those moments are only experienced the first time you solve a puzzle. After I finished the game there were nothing to come back to. The Turing Test took about 6 hours to finish and with a price tag of 19,99 euros you kind of hoped a little bit more. Maybe a longer campaign or some replay value. Still, challenging puzzles kept me pinned in front of the TV for as long as it lasted.
Verdict: 8 out of 10
Developer: Bulkhead Interactive
Genre: First Person Puzzler
Release date: 30.8.2016
The Turing Test is available on Microsoft Windows, Xbox One and PlayStation 4
Official page: The Turing Test