The Turing Test is a first-time development by Bulkhead Interactive and a slightly frustrating experience based off of a real-life test. At times a special brilliance shines through this puzzle game’s Portal-esque structure and atmosphere, but at the cost of several poor design decisions which stain the overall project.
As I traversed through the game’s 70 puzzles, I had much respect toward the developers but felt oddly unsatisfied. The worst part was I couldn’t quite put my finger on why. I kept asking myself why I wasn’t having a good time. “Shouldn’t I be profoundly enjoying this?” Poorly designed puzzles are often hard to spot, but I eventually identified the problem.
As I played through the puzzles with a keener eye, it struck me: a great deal of the puzzles are blatantly straight-forward, but I had ironically not realized it until later. When I say “straight-forward,” I mean it exactly as it sounds. These puzzles deceive you into thinking you’re solving a puzzle piece by piece, when in reality you’re simply lining them up.
Keep in mind that this straight-forwardness only applies to about half of the puzzles. Rather than applying an element of critical thinking, they are nothing less than linear, albeit abstract pathways. The player conceptually does nothing more than engage with each chamber’s interactive objects in their encountered order, making for some unfortunately dull playtime in these sections.
On the contrary, when you ignore the lackluster half of this game, you come to find that The Turing Test is quite an intriguing experience. The successful puzzles require clever thinking, rule bending, and often tight positioning which are all effectively designed. The devs weren’t afraid to make the player question their methods as some solutions feel rather disorderly, but not to a frustrating degree. It was delighting to find that the most hair-tearing puzzles were actually the most satisfying to solve after a long period of experimentation. I can confidently say that this game contains a few gems.
The devs seem to show off a definite ease when introducing a concept. Every time a new concept was employed, it made sense immediately. They also righteously chose a path where written instructions are absent, which is always a plus.
There was also the occasional side puzzle, one for each chapter (so seven) that were all creative in their own right and worth mentioning. Aside from the two essentially “guessing game” puzzles, I found the rest to be rather enjoyable. Honestly, some of the concepts they contained should have been in the main course.
This is one of those small-scale, almost unheard of games that regrettably contains an excessive amount of minor inconveniences. To name a few: the load screens were long (which wouldn’t have been so bothersome if there hadn’t been even more load time in between each puzzle), there was an ungodly amount of superfluous, examinable objects, and there was also the occasionally meticulous control.
Finally, The Turing Test is a highly respectable but frequently frustrating experience. I went into this game with skepticism, mostly due to the creepy lady on the cover art, but found it to be surprisingly — but only slightly — enjoyable. Give it a shot if you’d like, but I can’t guarantee it’ll be the most thrilling game you’ll ever play.