Games of the Year

The Turing Test

The Turing Test Screenshot 1
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The Turing Test is a challenging first-person puzzle game set on Jupiter’s moon, Europa. You are Ava Turing, an engineer for the International Space Agency (ISA) sent to discover the cause behind the disappearance of the ground crew stationed there. Upon arrival a series of puzzles awaits you – tests which, according to the station’s AI, Tom, can only be solved by a human. These puzzles have apparently been set by the missing ground crew – but why have they created them and what are they hiding from? In an evolving story based on mankind’s instinctual need to explore, protect and survive, you’ll delve deeper into Europa’s ice crusted-core and discover that the lines between man and machine begin to blur. Armed with the Energy Manipulation Tool (EMT), solve puzzles to open the way forward as you learn the true cost of human morality.
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Game Discussion

Review by Anonymous
Review from Steam

This is a nice puzzle game, not the best, nor the worst.
Can be short, and has the feeling of a tech demo.
-> The Bad: (most are pet peeves)
There isn't a proper tutorial and the mechanics can be difficult to figure up without a guide.
When listening to audio-logs there are no subtitles (even with subtitles on) and the sound level is very low. Must be played with headphones or it's difficult to make out what is being said.
If you play the game, disregard the prompt to move things with the mouse (while pressing E), use the WASD keys instead, it`s way more responsive (this was my worst pet peeve).
Has very few visual options toggles, those lens flares can be annoying.
-> The Good:
Very good visuals.
Interesting story.
Challenging puzzles.
Interesting game mechanics.

Review from Steam

Going by the philosophical excursions of this game and the antagonistic AI, it feels like it was trying to follow into the footsteps of the Talos Principle and Portal 2 which is already a tall order, however it really fell short of that ambition. The puzzles were way too simple and short, even the optional ones. Unlike in Talos or Portal the tests basically served no purpose to the story; trying to shoehorn them into the plot might have been a huge limiting factor. It certainly had the potential for more challenging puzzles, and other secrets that could have been hidden in or behind the many objects that you could pick up and turn around (though when I repeatedly fell through the map in an elevator stage, I could read some kind of red message "put in the actual half lifts" from below - does that count as an easter egg?)...
Nevertheless, all in all I did enjoy this fun and short game, which can be completed 100% within 4-6 hours. Best to buy it on sale or in a bundle, else I can imagine some may end up slightly disappointed.

Review from Steam

In short, this is a small portal-like puzzle game - it has a similar level and visual design, similar character design, similar puzzle design.
Compared to Portal 1, the narrative part is the one that outstands this game. I cannot say that plot in "The Turing Test" is particularly deep nor that the game has a lot of it, but the presence is much stronger here than in Portal. In Portal 1 it was more like we just were trying to get out of the ASHPD and...this was actually it, the whole plot. In the case of "The Turing Test" the deal is a little bit more complicated.
Another thing that begs the comparison is Tom. Tom is a local AI, as the GLaDOS in Portal, and he is a keeper of Europa research station and also one of 2 main plot drivers in this game. While he tends to ask interesting questions about morality, humanity, the value of life of the one, etc, in my opinion, he lacks charisma. When you listen to him, it feels more like the lecturer teaches his student, even despite Ava - the protagonist of this game, in the constant dialogue with him. I had a feeling that authors wanted to tell you their own mind more than to make you think about it yourself. Another drawback is that sometimes intellectual inequality between Ava and Tom is so big that the main character just feels to be stupid with her weak arguments against the strong and actually rational position of Tom (ofc he will be rational - he is an AI, lol). I feel that it would be better for the game to just cut out some parts of dialogues to allow the player to think about the topic on his own instead of frustrating him with the parade of stupidity.
Okay, what with the puzzles? The game consists of 7 chapters 10 sectors each and also of 7 optional sectors. Core mechanic, in short, relies upon power on and shut down a set of mechanisms with different kinds of power orbs. Of course, it's a little bit more complex than just that but I don't want to spoiler puzzles in this review. I think they won't make any trouble to experienced puzzle-solvers, especially those who complete games like Portal 1, 2, Q.U.B.E 1,2 or Talos Principle. The game has a quite limited set of mechanics with some kind of overhaul near to the second half of the game, which, actually makes the game easier. All that results in that the difficulty curve of the game is like a set of hills - it grows for the whole first half of the game up to peak at the end of it and at the second half it starts to slowly go down with some ups for 1 or 2 sectors in the chapter. The complexity curve of the puzzles, on the contrary, throughout the whole game just grows up. At the end of several sectors, I just stood up to appreciate the beauty of the mechanisms which game designers made me build. In short, I would say puzzles here are challenging enough, with some exception, to keep you busy but not enough to frustrate the player
As a sum of facts and feelings, I would want to recommend this game to the people who are looking for the games like Portal - this one is short, cheap, and is able to ask good questions about values common to all mankind. If you advanced puzzle-solver - I would not recommend this game to you, because it will be just too easy, and the plot itself is not worth of your time

Review from Steam

Not as remarkable as Portal or The Talos Principle, but it has it's own charm. Nice puzzles

Review from Steam

Short, simple and well made puzzle game with an interesting and touching story.
Not as good as Portal but if you enjoyed Portal, you'll likely enjoy this one too.

Review from Steam

If you like puzzle fps games like Portal or The Talos Principle, this is certainly a nice experience as well.

Review from Steam


The Turing Test is fairly close Portal in terms of gameplay. Every level is a self-contained puzzle. Each chapter of the game introduces new puzzle mechanics and each puzzle in any given chapter builds upon this new mechanic and how it integrates with all the previous ones. The main puzzle mechanic in The Turing Test is based on simple switch logic. You can find a bunch of sockets around the levels that turn something on or off or open and close doors depending on the state of their sockets. You can either slot in a physical block that powers the socket, which requires direct physical access, or use your gun to collect up to three energy spheres and insert them into the sockets from any distance.
The nature of those spheres evolves over time, so you also get spheres that turn on and off in regular intervals as well as a type of sphere that acts like a battery that basically discharges over time once after it gets inserted into a socket.
The gameplay in general is pretty alright, though the puzzles are overall fairly simple. It’s not breaking any new ground and follows typical puzzle game convection to a T. I like the restraint the developers exercised here in not going overboard with all the available mechanics. I’ve seen many games fall into the trap where they introduce a handful of mechanics and then try to apply every single one with ever increasing complexity, to the point where it becomes impossible to keep track of the state of a given level or even formulate a plan of attack in order to solve it.
What saves the game from mere mediocrity however is its narrative and themes. You play as Ava Turing. You are woken up by Tom, the artificial intelligence that assists a team of the international space agency on their mission on Europa, an icy moon orbiting the planet Jupiter. When Ava gets woken up from her cryoslumber, Tom mentions to her that the rest of the crew are in danger after encountering an extraterrestrial organism. And that’s basically all the setup you get.
Once you arrive on the surface of Europa and enter the ISA compound it’s noted that it has changed since Tom has last had access to it, which basically serves as the justification for all these test chambers existing. As Tom states it, these chambers serve as a Turing test. That basically makes it impossible for him to solve them because as an AI he lacks the necessary abilities of the human mind for creativity that would enable the lateral thinking necessary to solve the puzzles.
Now I contest that specific claim here because the majority of the puzzles don’t really require lateral thinking at all. Most of the puzzles can be solved with pretty standard logical thinking, because they explicitly follow the intended ruleset of the game. You have a set of sockets and the corresponding power blocks or spheres that enable you to solve all the puzzles. This requires strict logic, to the point where I’d even say an AI could easily solve them even through the most uncreative brute force approach. The number of possible combinations is so small that I doubt it’d take any decently specced computer these days longer than a couple of seconds, never mind the probable future computers of whenever this game is set in. That’s not to say that lateral thinking never makes an appearance, though ironically it even gets discouraged at times. At one point, a solution to a puzzle requires you to use the aforementioned energy block to keep a door from shutting all the way so you can power off the door and still interact with what’s behind it by peeking through the remaining opening at the right angle. That’s all fine and dandy. However, I tried a similar thing in an earlier puzzle with a door that closes horizontally, and there this solution wouldn’t work. So while lateral thinking is required to solve a few puzzles, it’s actively discouraged in most other instances.
So why does the game insist on highlighting lateral thinking in the first place? Well, The Turing Test isn’t just a fancy name for the game, it has actual meaning. It’s a thought experiment invented by Alan Turing, a pioneer of early computer science. It describes a setting where an interrogator poses questions to a human and a machine in order to determine which is which. If the interrogator can’t conclude that either of them was a machine, Turing argues that this would be proof that machines can think, since they’ve managed to exhibit enough human behavior to fool us.
But the game doesn’t just stop at the Turing Test. It also introduces a common rebuttal to the Turing Test, which is the Chinese room thought experiment proposed by John Searle. The Chinese room experiment argues that a machine following a program that would allow it to give all the right outputs to all the inputs it receives does not prove that the machine is actually capable of what we call human thought. The example Searle gives in the Chinese room experiment is that we should imagine a room with a person in it. The person receives inputs written as Chinese characters. It's also important to note that the person in the room doesn’t understand Chinese at all, to them these symbols carry no meaning. The person has a rulebook that describes to them what types of outputs they have to produce for any given input, and these outputs have to also be written as Chinese characters. According to Searle, this is the same thing as feeding the same inputs into a computer and the computer spitting out the appropriate responses. All that changes is who executes the algorithm. So the question then is, does the person in the room understand Chinese? After all, they produce the appropriate outputs that could fool a native Chinese speaker of the person’s supposed ability to understand Chinese. If no, then the computer doesn’t understand Chinese either, so by any metric, Searle argues, computers are incapable of understanding.
Now I’m not going to go much further into the topic of AI consciousness here, even though it’s a fascinating topic that you can lose many hours over reading arguments for or against both the Turing test and the Chinese room thought experiment.
Still, I like the fact that the game tries to incorporate these concepts and ideas into a video game. It’s just unfortunate that nothing substantial ever arises out of it. It's a shame that this exchange of ideas is mostly relegated to a few lines spoken between characters at the start of each level. And the most fascinating background information is actually hidden in the optional levels, so it’s very much worth it to solve those as well, even though they sometimes deviate from the typical levels quite a bit. But the gameplay itself is just a simple puzzle that mostly only serves as a vehicle to transport the story and give it a certain pacing. The puzzles don’t tell you anything about the relationship between humans, machines, thinking and feeling.
Now I stress that this isn’t a dealbreaker. It’s fine for a game to be just about a few puzzles and offer an entertaining narrative besides its gameplay. I like that it engages in a philosophical debate about AI consciousness with nuance and without making absolute statements of whatever the developers might believe the answer to be. But at the end of the day, the most interesting facet of The Turing Test, the game, not the thought experiment, is the discussion surrounding AI consciousness and not the puzzle gameplay. If you wanted to, you could just as well play through the levels here and never spare a thought for the game’s actual themes. And I think this is where the game ultimately stumbles a bit. It doesn’t meaningfully integrate its gameplay into its intended narrative. That doesn’t make it a bad game, far from it. I had fun with the puzzles. But it ultimately makes it shallower than it could’ve been.

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