The summer of 2016 was a strange time. The United Kingdom had only just voted itself out of the European Union, newly minted Prime Minister Theresa May and Republican candidate Donald Trump had accused political opponent Hilary Clinton of trying to abolish the second amendment which, among other things, would make his candidacy seem untenable. It also happened to be the time that Bulkhead Interactive’s The Turing Test was released on PC and Xbox One.
Now four years later, the United Kingdom has officially left the European Union and President Donald Trump’s impeachment is on the verge of acquittal as Senators vote against hearing witnesses speak. It also happens to be the time that The Turing Test was ported to the Nintendo Switch.
The world has changed immensely in such a short space of time and the same can be said for video games. So how does a four-year-old puzzle-shooter hold up on a portable system?
The Turing Test is a Sci-Fi story set in the 23rd century as humanity has ventured outwards to explore the solar system at large. On a base on Jupiter’s moon of Europa, engineer Ava Turing is awoken from cryostasis by AI T.O.M. to locate the missing crew that has hidden itself deep within Europa’s base through a series of complex puzzle rooms that elude the AI. It is up to Ava to assist T.O.M. in navigating these rooms using a mix of lateral thinking and creative problem solving.
Human relationship with AI is central to the themes of The Turing Test. Even the game's title is an allusion to the scientific theory that a robot can be considered intelligent if it is able to convince a human of its humanity in conversation.
The most obvious comparison to The Turing Test is Valve’s Portal, both in terms of themes, puzzle-solving and environmental design. Each room is kept minimal in appearance while still growing increasingly complex the further Ava ventures into the base.
Puzzle solving is simple. Each room has a series of switches that when toggled can be used to navigate obstacles, open doors and activate other dormant technologies. Some switches require players to manually pick up power boxes while others can be toggled remotely with a gun that can collect and distribute energy at range within the player’s line of sight. As Ava progresses new types of energy have different effects on each system and must be distributed correctly in order to advance to the next room.
Each puzzle requires players to think outside the box that will briefly give pause but won’t present enough of a challenge to elude them for very long. As each puzzle only has one successful outcome it doesn’t take long to find the correct solution. Like “thinking with portals,” The Turing Test becomes a lesson in puzzle solving that accumulates into a test using mechanics that Ava has learned throughout her journey through the base.
Having initally been released in August 2016 on PC and Xbox One, The Turing Test’s performance on the Nintendo Switch varies on the size and complexity of each room. As hallways offer a seamless loading time for each new puzzle each chapter, of which there are seven, are broken up by long loading screens that break this immersion. In at least one instance, these loading times caused the game to crash while one of these normally innocuous transitions took place.
Clocking in at around six hours The Turing Test is a short but ultimately memorable experience. At £15.99, The Turing Test is cheaper than most games but may be a high price for people looking for something quick and easy to test their brain. Without spoiling any of the game’s story, each room is punctuated by dialogue between Ava and T.O.M. There are also plenty of secrets to discover in hidden rooms that not only add a heightened challenge to puzzle solving but also rewards players with a rich backstory that explores the nature of the research facility and the fate of each crew member.
The Turing Test is available February 7th for £15.99 on Nintendo eShop