284: Give Me An Axe, I've Had Enough Of This Puzzle

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Oh man I fully agree, I dislike it when Games have their very complicated puzzles that tend to be just thrown in there. I also figured the quote used in the actual News of "The school playing the piano to solve it" Wasn't that for Silent Hill 1 or 2? Can't recall but I certainly remember something very similar to that! I would love to have something as easy as having an axe and moving on.

Devil May Cry 4 had just the puzzle crap. Why did Nero (If that was his name) at some point of the mission have to throw a huge dice while his "Little self" like Monopoly move around in spaces? That was just a waste of time personally... had nothing to do with demons. Least they should of replaced it with a more meaningful puzzle or something involving Demons. All well...

Machinarium's sudden tic-tac-toe genre shift made me stop playing it, exactly because I felt violently pulled out of the game.

Browsing through eh official forum at the time, I noticed a lot of other people had the same complaint.

Another example is Castlevania: Lords of Shadow. They stuck a puzzle everywhere, even right after a boss one time. I'm glad I watched a LP of it, because I sure as hell would not enjoy playing it.

anyGould:
The Riven number puzzle is perfect for this. You see the weird symbols everywhere, and then you find the classroom, and there are the symbols, arranged in the classic "number line". Ta-da!

(Of course, it also has the !@#$% marble puzzle, but nobody's perfect.)

For me, if there's one puzzle that feels out of place in Riven, it's figuring out how to get into Gehn's lab on Book Assembly Island. The whole "climb through the duct work" solution just seemed... stupid. And the pipe you're climbing through in no way seems large enough to accommodate you, especially with the fan supports welded to either end (the water pipe immediately prior to this puzzle is only slightly better).

To be honest, I really love both of the huge overarching puzzles in Riven: the marble one and the one that block access to the Moiety Age. I may be a bit biased toward the marble one though... I played the game for the first time as a kid with my dad and my uncle (the circumstances of how I managed to play through and finally beat Riven are amusing, but lengthy enough for their own post), and I hit upon the puzzle's methodology before either of them. We were only hindered in actually solving it by our combined ineptitude with regards to spatial relations ;). It's quite impressive to step back from both puzzles and realize that almost without fail, every other element of the game is building up to those two solutions, which are as complex as they are because of what effectively amounts to a very passive-aggressive arms race between Gehn and the Moiety in terms of securing their strongholds from one another.

Riven to this day remains my very favorite game of the series - and one of my favorite games ever - because Cyan did such an exceptional job integrating the story, characters, environment, and puzzles into a cohesive whole, while providing enough of a balance between trial-and-error and clue-giving in the puzzle designs to avoid frustration (this is where Myst 4 in particular falls flat on its face).

The other thing Myst does is that since you don't have an inventory, you don't have an axe in hand to chop the door down with. (Which skews a little too far in the later games IMO - by the later games, the assumption is that you knew you were coming. So why don't you have a rope, or a compass, or a flashlight?)

I totally agree with you on this, especially when it comes to Uru.

"Go figure out somehow that you need to bring these fireflies with you to light your way through a cave in another Age. But be careful, they don't like it when you run or jump, and if you so much as dip your toe into the water, they'll leave you forever."
"Um, no. Give me a freaking flashlight!"

I mean really. C'mon.

runnernda:
Can you please make a game where just hacking through everything can be a solution to the puzzle? I like puzzles, but I mainly like the type of logic puzzles that we get in Resident Evil or Professor Layton. Sliding puzzles make me want to punch a baby seal...and I LIKE baby seals. If we can just hack through puzzles that we hate, people who like puzzles can work them out, and people who don't can unleash violence on them! Stress relief for all!

I approve.
I would really like to play a RPG where I can solve a puzzle or just smash the puzzle and continue on. There would have to be some kind of penalty for this, such as you miss some loot or a boss becomes much stronger, but I think that would be an awesome concept. Plus, it would make the world much more real.

runnernda:
Can you please make a game where just hacking through everything can be a solution to the puzzle? I like puzzles, but I mainly like the type of logic puzzles that we get in Resident Evil or Professor Layton. Sliding puzzles make me want to punch a baby seal...and I LIKE baby seals. If we can just hack through puzzles that we hate, people who like puzzles can work them out, and people who don't can unleash violence on them! Stress relief for all!

This is why the ultimate fantasy or adventuring games will always be table-top like DnD.
Once my DM concocted the greates most mind-stumpingly difficult door lock on an indestructible door.

I asked for a description, and he mentioned the hinges. "Are they on THIS SIDE of the door?"
I asked. "Yes" remove the pins, kick down the door, and steal said pins cuz they could be handy as Pitons." Problem solved, no axe necessary.

I Used to use Magic as an adventuring tool, buth 4th edition reduced magic to I shoot glowey light A at it. grumble

I'm wondering if you'd ever consider actually doing something like that in a game. Maybe have 2 achevements, one for solving the puzzle and one for smashing the door. ^_^

I would love a game that lets you chop down the door just from the angle that I've always dreamed of games with that level of choice, but I have to say that I love puzzles, all of them all the time.

From puzzle-platformers like Portal to the browser-based logic games I just get a huge kick out of blitzing through a puzzle. I really should buy a DS so I can try those Professor Layton games :P

DTWolfwood:

EDIT: and I HATE the lockpicking puzzles. In Fallout 3, I even preferred the "password" puzzles, which at least took a little working out, although I would've preferred them to be less frequent as well. They had to do SOMETHING to justify a high "science" skill I suppose...

I loved Fallout 3 and maxed out Speech first closely followed by Science because it drove me insane when I found a computer locking a safe or door that had a level too high for me to attempt.

Doing the Mastermind puzzles was great when I approached it properly but the whole experience got ruined when I clicked that if I saved before an attempt I could just randomly pick answers and if I didn't get the right one load the save and do it again, giving me a 100% success rate. Once I knew the option was there the hacking lost its appeal because I knew it wasn't neccesary :(

New Vegas fixed this a little by making Science useful for a lot of other stuff though

Have to agree, context makes all the difference. In Myst, the player is in a world where the creator set up the puzzles to keep his corrupt sons from escaping. in Shivers, Prof. Windlenott, the founder of the Museum of The Strange and Unusual, built puzzles into his museum to challenge and entice his visitors. In The 7th Guest, Stauf filled his mansion with puzzles as a way to toy with his guests and because it's how he saw it in his vision from the dark, evil forces that sought him out. There's method to the madness here, reasons behind the rhyming locks and rythm panels that keep the doors shut.

Then you have moments like in Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened, where to get through a simple door in an ordinary house, you have to solve some kind of number puzzle with about a dozen squares that need to be filled with the right numbers. I kid you not, when I got to this particular moment in the game, I got so bored I started to nod off at the computer. I haven't tried playing it since.

Puzzles that make sense in context can add to a game. Once that feel arbitrary and tacked on ruin it.

I'm surprised that nobody has mentioned Ico or Shadow of the Colossus when it comes to making puzzles an integral part of the gameplay.

I don't have a problem with puzzles; in fact, I rather like them because I like solving things. My problem is with a class of puzzles that I call "null-information" puzzles. These are puzzles that provide no clue what you have to do, what the solution may look like, nor do they provide any linkage or clue to any information that may be key to solving the puzzle. You are left to simply experiment randomly with no guidance until something just "clicks". The challenge of the puzzle is not in the difficulty of logically determining its solution but in the completely contrived obfuscation of facts necessary to solve the puzzle; you are left to randomly guess the mind of the developer. Such puzzles often require one to purchase a guide book or look up information on the web, something you should never have to do in a well-designed game. It's these kinds of puzzles that make me just pull out the axe and smash the door down(when I'm allowed to do so by the developer).

An example of what I'm talking about would be finding yourself trapped in a room with 3 switches on the wall with 3 different positions, up, down, and neutral/middle. It would seem obvious that the switches are the puzzle, and you have to find the configuration that opens the way out. You start pushing and pulling the switches with no clue which configuration opens the way out. Wrong configurations result in some horrible death, meaning you will be using the save feature a lot. With no clues to allow you do deduce the correct configuration, you get to spend your time trying all 27 possible configurations. Have fun! But, here's the horrible part of this puzzle. The switches on the wall have nothing to do with opening the way out; messing with the switches at all kills you. There's this weird, slightly discolored spot on the opposite wall, barely noticeable, that you are supposed to press to get out. If you had only spent time randomly clicking about instead of fussing with the switches, you would have lived and found the way out. *bleagh!*

That example sounds contrived, but it's precisely the kind of thing that developers put into some adventure games, and I've run across exactly this kind of puzzle at least once.

EDIT: Did my math wrong on the number of configurations. The number I originally had, 162, would be true if the order in which the switches were manipulated also mattered. If the order doesn't matter, then only 27 manipulations are unique. However, 27 manipulations still takes a bit, and you have to track which ones you have tried to avoid repeating. The end result, boring tedium, is still the same.

To be fair, in some cases puzzles like the door-sliders can be believable, but as you said only in the right context. Sliders seem ridiculously out of place on a door to the wood shed behind the house, but on the huge stone door that opens to the grand altar of some ancient civilization which holds a relic of wondrous power? Works for me. Just ask Indiana Jones, ancient socieities just loved guarding their secrets with elaborate puzzles.

What I hate are the puzzles that are just completely arbitrary and utterly out of place...puzzles that make absolutely no sense what so ever. Take the standard Resident Evil puzzle. Find the key in the sweres that unlocks the drawer in the office that has the crank for the attic door which gives you access to the jewel to place in the statue which will unlock the gun closet. THAT'S the type of "puzzle" that really makes you wonder "Seriously? This guy has that elaborate of a scavenger hunt just to open up his gun case?"

Perhaps I'm just reiterating what the article said as I'm misunderstanding his definition of "obstacle", but I can completely understand what he's talking about with context. All I'm saying is that it's easy for me to imagine some ancient high priest performing some sacred ritual involving lighting the candles in a certain order in order to open the altar and retrieve some mystical artifact that his culture revers...while it's hard for me to imagine a police chief running from his office to the sewers back to his office then to the attic then back down to his office all just to get his magnum out.

DocM:
Can anyone say "Water Temple?"

I can certainly say "F**K THE WATER TEMPLE!"

But you do raise a good point about the Zelda games. A game like Portal is fun because the puzzles themselves ARE the narrative with very minimal dialogue (the main character never even speaks). Yet a game like Zelda is supposed to be a story-driven adventure. Now it's one thing for dungeons to be labarynthian in nature with lots of twists and turns, but what about games like Zelda where often times the entire dungeon is, itself, a 30-45 minute puzzle? To me it was a mixed bag. Some of the temple puzzles fell under the "I can see someone going through these steps back when this place was still inhabitted" while others, such as the raising and lowering of water in the Water temple, felt like nothing but the developers giving you a middle finger and saying "Have fun with this one, jackass!"

Skyrim is guilty as -sin- of these. And worse, it often uses -multiple- types and variations of puzzles within the same dungeon. There's the 'match the twisty pillars to the hieroglyphics puzzle.', the 'turn the wheels until they match the symbols on the dragon's claw puzzle' (which oddly enough seems less like a puzzle and more busy work as the exact combination is one the claw which you will have in your inventory anyway because you need it to open the door. :/), the pull the switches in the right order puzzle, the step on the floor panels in the right order puzzle. The 'collect the doodads and put them on the pedestal in the right order puzzle'.

I guess, the ancient Nords were big on barrow safety, but they apparently were way too into their puzzle games. :/ I'd have gone for more vicious and numerous traps to be honest. Not a door anyone can open through trial and error.

GothmogII:
Skyrim is guilty as -sin- of these. And worse, it often uses -multiple- types and variations of puzzles within the same dungeon. There's the 'match the twisty pillars to the hieroglyphics puzzle.', the 'turn the wheels until they match the symbols on the dragon's claw puzzle' (which oddly enough seems less like a puzzle and more busy work as the exact combination is one the claw which you will have in your inventory anyway because you need it to open the door. :/), the pull the switches in the right order puzzle, the step on the floor panels in the right order puzzle. The 'collect the doodads and put them on the pedestal in the right order puzzle'.

I guess, the ancient Nords were big on barrow safety, but they apparently were way too into their puzzle games. :/ I'd have gone for more vicious and numerous traps to be honest. Not a door anyone can open through trial and error.

Well the hint for the dragon claws was "When you hold this claw, the solution is in the palm of your hands." But, Mercer Frey demonstrates that the doors aren't exactly impregnable.

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