Bulkhead Interactive provided a small glimpse into The Turing Test days before the start of GDC. The sci-fi-based puzzle title puts you in control of Ava Turing, a woman stranded on Europa, one of the moons of Jupiter. At Microsoft’s ID@Xbox event at GDC, the developers featured an early version of the game.
The demo revealed more about Ava’s story. It seems that she arrived on Europa with several crew mates, but the entire team entered long-term sleep throughout the journey. As the final person to wake up, she must find the rest of her team and uncover the events that transpired on Europa.
Accompanying her is an AI program named Tom. In order to find out the fate of each crew member, she must traverse multiple rooms, each with its own set of puzzles, to determine whether the entity solving it is human or machine. In other words, it’s a Turing test. (Get it?)
Each level consisted of a series of lit boxes that you had to put into ports in the wall. With the box in the port, certain doors will activate, so you have to figure out the correct way to open the door that leads into the next area.
As expected, the first few rooms were fairly easy. They allows you to familiarize yourself with basic puzzle concepts. Later on, the game begins to throw some mind-bending curve balls. For example, you have to get a box that seems unreachable, or the port in front of you opens a door that’s located behind another closed door. These mid-game levels also included a series of levers and even a magnetized beam, which adds more difficulty to the puzzle.
There were a few occasions where I felt stumped, and I stopped moving around in the game to think about how to solve the current puzzle. When the answer revealed itself, I had that rejuvenating "A-ha!" moment before I solved it, and I then entered the next room and tackled the next problem.
In addition to solving each test, there will be multiple conversations between Ava and Tom that reveals more about Europa and her crew. These usually occur between puzzles, which allows for a quick break before the next room.
Back To Basics
My kneejerk reaction to The Turing Test was that it felt similar to the Portal series, but without the humor. Even so, the fact that it was reminiscent of the popular series shows that these puzzle games can still be entertaining in some form.
Certain parts of the game were intimidating, but after some planning, the solution was simple. There’s a feeling of genuine success after each room. At the end of the demo, I wanted more puzzles, but it seems like I’ll have to wait until August for the final version.