The Turing Test

Developer: Bulkhead Interactive | Released: 2016 | Genre: Puzzle, First Person

Another Portal clone. I really liked this one – it felt so polished. Objects could be lifted and rotated, but when you hit the same hotkey again, it was put back exactly as it was found – it wasn’t just dropped to be shuffled around by gravity like in other games. Handles could be moved when holding down the mouse button and then moving the mouse. And the watching robot had a wonderful “Jeremy Irons” voice.

It all made for a great first impression.

The actual gimmick was surprisingly unsophisticated. Instead of a gun with a magical superpower, I could merely suck or shoot energy spheres into large sockets. Sometimes also move a box with an energy sphere locked up inside. Both activated something, like a door, a bridge, a light laser – all the kind of stuff you usually find in these games. The puzzles were good and for the most part not too difficult.

At least up until the final two chapters where the bigger areas were dominating.

There were a total of seven chapters, each usually introducing new gameplay elements. The energy spheres came in various colors, mostly indicating a delayed or flickering timing. One later chapter even introduced fun cooperation puzzles of the type where you toggle between several instances.

The background story was about a woman being woken up by the AI named T.O.M. – that’s the lovely voice I talked about earlier. The rest of the crew had disappeared. I needed to land on the Jupiter moon Europa and solve puzzles chambers in an underground facility while making my way further inside. The chambers were straightforward in the beginning – it made an actual tutorial completely unnecessary.

Every new puzzle area spawned another short conversation between the protagonist and the AI, and it was often about interesting things like e.g. the nature of creativity. I loved listening to this.

Spoiler: Observations

  • I wanted to explore the snowy surface of Europa, but… invisible walls. Bleh.
  • Blue spheres for normal switching, green spheres for flickering on/off (making for e.g. doors that open and close constantly), violet spheres for flickering in the opposite rhythm than the green ones, and red spheres for a delayed expiration effect.
  • Sometimes some machinery (like e.g. a magnetic silo or a bridge) cold be dragged using a lever.
  • The wall switches with sphere sockets sometimes had a piston that postponed the toggling, making fast maneuvers possible. This wasn’t used much, though.
  • Good idea ending the chapters with something not involving a puzzle – a control room, crew quarters, etc. Made for a nice breather before getting busy with puzzles again.
  • There were “restricted” areas with optional puzzles. I did all of them except the first one, which I then went back and did after completing the game. Among the noteworthy ones I can mention stacking three boxes to obscure a motion detector, tumbling a box down stairs upon a button for a delayed triggering, long rows of boolean sphere sockets, even blocking a drop-down door with a box.
  • The audio logs were sometimes difficult to understand due to static background noise. Subtitles would have been nice here. Also a shame the displayed waveforms didn’t really match the dialogs.
  • Spheres and especially light lasers often went crazy with lens flares all over the screen. Jar Jar Abrams would have been proud.
  • In the end of chapter sequence with the cage, the protagonist Ava walked away and I was stuck. I had to read on the internet that I was supposed to focus on a small surveillance camera and toggle to its view. The developers should have added a small hint there.
  • I really liked the cooperation stuff, though. Switching between Ava, a T.O.M. robot or surveillance cameras was fun. As the robot, I could drive over buttons, flick switches only T.O.M. could operate, even suck and shoot spheres just like Ava.
  • The final puzzle room was a bitch, and the room wasn’t even all that big. It was area 70 in chapter 7. It was soon clear that I had to get a T.O.M. robot past two doors operated by a button. The button could be controlled by a combination of a box on a conveyor belt (sometimes blocking a light laser switch) and a movable magnet in the ceiling. I wasted probably more than an hour on this single puzzle. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to crack it. Finally I found what probably wasn’t the proper solution – more like a “Kobayashi Maru” cheat. I discovered that if I dropped a box while looking downwards in a certain angle then let it go, the box would tumble aggressively forwards for quite a distance. I used this trick to delay the deliverance of the box onto the button, then quickly switch to the T.O.M. robot before the door between us closed. That did the trick.
  • The game had two endings from the point of view of T.O.M. in its server room, watching Ava and Sarah dismantling him. I could shoot them both with a gun turret, or just let them finish the job. Neither had much of additional footage afterwards – just credits.


  • Great graphics and fantastic voice acting makes for a good first impression.
  • A low difficulty curve eases you nicely into the puzzles.
  • Generally easier than the Portal series, at least until the final two chapters.
  • The controls are slick and are easy to get used to.
  • Later introduces enjoyable single player cooperation gameplay.


  • Examining objects in e.g. the crew quarters feels like it serves no purpose.
  • Leans towards recycling its smaller prefabs a little too frequently.
  • Lots of crazy lens flares especially from the light lasers.
  • The audio logs are often difficult to understand.


One comment on “The Turing Test

  1. About that last puzzle.

    Spoiler: Click

    After completing the game I read up on what I was supposed to do in area 70. I had to place Ava on the square conveyor belt with the box on the alternatively magnetized switch, then give control to the robot and pass through the two now toggling doors.

    Such a simple and straightforward solution.

    I can’t explain why that never occurred to me. It’s such a logical solution and I was actually borderline scared that I never thought of it. But what is even more puzzling is that I breezed through most of the puzzles in the game without much of a problem, and some of those also had solutions that required me to think outside the box.

    Not my proudest moment, and ironic that it had to be the very last one that got me.

Leave a Reply