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ℹ️ The Talos Principle 2 Photo Mode Hands-On

Developer: Croteam

Publisher: Devolver Digital

Platform: PC, PS5, Xbox X|S

Initial Release: 2nd November 2023

Reviewed on PC with a digital copy provided by Devolver Digital


It's not often that a puzzle game manages to be engagingly character-driven, especially when it doesn't actually feature a single living character, but that's exactly what Croteam seem to have managed with The Talos Principle 2.

Set many centuries after the extinction of mankind, the game finds Earth inhabited by a small civilisation of sentient robots. Robots who are seemingly fascinated with learning about human history and prophesising about the very nature of consciousness and what it means to be "human".

The Talos Principle 2 Hands-On


This overtone of thinking plays out across a beautiful and challenging 3D puzzler that expands on the concepts of its 2014 predecessor. The stunning environments that blend future tech with Greek mythology and ancient Egypt are riddled with mind-bending problems that introduce new concepts like gravity manipulation, mind transference, and portals, as well as bringing back lasers. Lots of lasers.

Also new this time around is a photo mode. Available at launch in the PC version and coming to console in a post-launch update, it has some pretty interesting and occasionally complicated features to capture your robotic ponderings.

The Talos Principle 2 Photo Mode


Accessed via in the pause menu by default, it's worth heading into the controller settings to assign the optional button shortcut. Left or Right on the D-Pad are good options here and make it easy to jump in and take advantage of the various photographic features.

The Talos Principle 2 Photo Mode


The camera itself enjoys total freedom of movement with a large range that extends ~80 m from the main character and it's great to see a movement speed option to make it easier to get around or to compose a shot with precision.

Also on this tab, you'll find an option to set the resolution of the captured image. It cannot increase any of the quality settings on-the-fly but does at least mean that it's possible to capture 4K shots while playing at a lower resolution to boost performance.


Elsewhere, a combination of focus, aperture values, and sensor settings are available to control the depth of field. There is also an auto focus option that tracks distance at the centre dot, but it unfortunately doesn't seem to recognise the character at all.

Working manually then, there is a simple distance value to set the focus and 12 aperture f-stops to adjust the depth of field with defocus added to the foreground and background. The additional Sensor Width option is something that many people will be unfamiliar with, but essentially this will exaggerate the blur effect at any chosen focal length and aperture value.


When it comes to post-process and image options, this is a photo mode with a lot to offer. Chromatic aberration, film grain, sharpness, and vignette are all present, while the colours can be altered using a whole host of features across the Display, Filter, and Colour Grading tabs.

Whether it's simple preset colour filters and render modes, temperature and tint adjustments, or the full RGB control over saturation, contrast, and gamma, there is certainly a lot to work with for all kinds of stylistic effects.

The Talos Principle 2 Photo Mode


A handful of frames and a couple of logos come with a similar freedom of adjustment, though one of the most impressive features has to be the final Character tab.

As well as a simple visibility toggle, this offers the ability to assume the appearance of other members of the robot community, and to cycle through lots of preset poses. With almost 100 of each, there are plenty to try out and, although the characters may all look alike aside from their colours and numbered chest plate, the variety of poses is impressive.

- TALOS 2 // POSES -

Along with common stances and actions like running and leaning against a wall, there are also some more unique options like sitting with a guitar, peering through binoculars, and even a few with a pet cat who wants to get in on the action.

Add in the small X, Y, & Z-axis movement, and the 9 facial expressions with variable strength and eyeline, and there is a wealth of opportunity to play around with how the character engages with all sorts of scenarios.

The Talos Principle 2 Photo Mode


The Talos Principle 2 is a devilishly challenging game at times but also a beautiful one that is well worthy of some photographic attention. It seems like Croteam knew that too and it is excellent to see it include a photo mode with some deceptively detailed features. It's a feature set that goes beyond the bare essentials and, although that may come with a small learning curve for some users, it's a photo mode that should serve virtual photographers well.

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