Turing Test – “a test for intelligence in a computer, requiring that a human being should be unable to distinguish the machine from another human being by using the replies to questions put to both”.
This is a simple concept that if executed correctly could easily make for an interesting video game. Well, that’s exactly what Bulkhead Interactive did. The Turing Test is a first-person puzzle game set on Jupiter’s moon, Europa. You are Ava Turing, an engineer for the International Space Agency (ISA). Ava is sent by T.O.M, an artificial intelligence that monitors the project. It sends Ava to discover the cause behind the disappearance of the ground crew stationed there.
Much like Portal, you progress through the game by completing puzzle rooms. The puzzles involve distributing power through a special tool. It can collect and fire power spheres into special receptacles to unlock doors or activate other machinery in the game. As the player progresses, additional elements are introduced. These include the ability to observe scenes and activate certain objects via the station’s monitoring cameras, and control mobile robots that can be used to explore levels.
The majority of the puzzles aren’t particularly complex. However, most require just enough thought and strategy that it is satisfying to advance. The puzzles become more intricate in the latter stages. My appreciation for how well designed the game is grew even larger. Still, whilst the gameplay is fun it isn’t exactly original by design. Also, with 70ish levels across a 10 hour campaign it does begin to drag in places.
I found the main aspect that compelled me to continue was the undeniable intrigue I had for the unravelling plot. This was helped greatly by the superb voice work and sound design throughout the game. The Turing Test does a fantastic job of making you question just about everything you’re told. T.O.M is highly intelligent so it is only natural that you would be suspicious of his intentions. There are a number of clues littered throughout the station that only serve to make you more apprehensive. It isn’t often that a video game manages to raise such interesting questions surrounding free will, sacrifice and what it is to be human.
Visually, The Turning Test is quite bland. The majority of the game takes place inside colourless, scientific chambers. It obviously has to be that way but it can get a little grating on the eyes after a while. Still, I appreciated the short breaks between puzzles. You do get the opportunity to explore other parts of the station such as the crew quarters. This further increased my curiosity as you learn about those who had lived in the station before Ava arrived. These are the moments when the game shows what it can do in terms of visuals and storytelling. However, even then it always seems rough around the edges.
No doubt, people have and will continue to compare this game to Portal and it isn’t hard to see why. However, don’t go into it expecting the same kind of humour. The Turing Test takes itself very seriously which could be off putting to some.
Overall, The Turning Test is definitely worth your time. It constructs a well-paced story that had me hooked until the very end.
The Turing Test