What's a good adventure game puzzle?

I watched Zero Punctuation a couple weeks ago (The Walking Dead) one, and Yahtzee brought up a point I’ve been meaning to start a thread about. He mentioned the “typical” good adventure game puzzle (in a nutshell moon logic that finally makes sense after you do it), and The Walking Dead’s puzzles (hilariously easy like “I need a screwdriver to unscrew this!”).

So it occurs to me, there’s very few good ways to make a good adventure game puzzle. If you make them logical, they become ridiculously easy. However, the usual approach to making them can make puzzles that, while they make sense, are incredibly difficult to arrive at that solution. Especially when the game gives you the standard “I can’t use that” on the other 15 things in your inventory that could solve the problem if used correctly in real life.

I’m not sure. I really loved Telltale’s Back to the Future, I thought it had logical, fair puzzles. Of course, this causes the complaint by a lot of people that it was too easy. Other adventure games have clever puzzles, yes, but even in Monkey Island I’m frequently reduced to desperately rubbing things against each other praying to hop onto the developer’s train of logic.

So how do you make difficult puzzles without making bullshit puzzles? I can’t really figure it out.

No idea, but the guys who made Portal did a great job.

I remember the Broken Sword series (at least the 2D ones, before they made the switch to “block puzzles are awesome !”) being fairly good about that - the puzzles & item uses were relatively rational without being completely straightforward, and the game was pretty good about hinting obliquely to what you oughta do next or how to use this or that item, either via snide commentary by the protagonist or snide commentary from the NPCs. No soup cans, either. The only puzzle that stumped us for a long time in the first game was the goat one, which was both logical and intuitive but horribly executed (you had to trick an ornery billygoat into shortening its own leash by first making it pursue you around a tree, but if your movements weren’t nigh-pixel perfect trying to do that only resulted in the “billygoat chased you off !” cutscene. Again.)

*Sherlock Holmes vs Jack the Ripper *was also pretty good I thought, in that the puzzles were (for the most part - there are some silly hijinks and pixel hunts at times) straight up deductions and logical inferences, the tricks of which relied mostly on either remembering crucial little details or lateral thinking. That said, the deductions were in MCA format for the most part, so you could basically brute force through half the game :confused:

Have you ever played Zork: Grand Inquisitor? “Who is the boss of you? ME! I am the boss of you!” and when confronted with a big fat ugly two headed monster guarding the passageway, you start using stuff in your inventory, and one of the heads says “Sure, dig into the old inventory, something’s bound to work!”

It’s on GOG for six bucks. I think I paid somewhere between forty and sixty bucks for it back when it was new.

I enjoyed the temples in Ocarina of Time, which involved a lot of pushing stuff around and flipping switches. It helped that some combat was in the mix and I liked how the player modified the environment.

I’m not sure about puzzles… Generally, as long as the game is fun, I don’t mind too much if the puzzles are a bit silly. From the very few I’ve played I like pretty much everything Tim Schafer’s done (I see you mentioned Monkey Island - I think Psychonauts might be the most logical of his I’ve played). The Sam & Max games (also by Telltale) tend to use moon logic, but are so silly I don’t mind. Myst and its sequels aren’t adventure (I think), but the puzzles tend to be logical, though way too convoluted for reality.

Portal and Portal 2 are great, but are they adventure games or just puzzle?

Generally Portal/2 are considered puzzle games, whereas Myst and its ilk are considered archetypal old-school adventure games. Though a recent thread has a pretty long argument about whether or not Portal technically counts as an adventure game or not.

Dammit, (was originally) slightly too late to edit - I forgot about the Amanita games, especially Samorost 2, Machinarium, and Botanicula. The one that’s closest to the adventure/puzzle type would likely be Machinarium.

Ah - thanks, Jragon.

Portal has twitch elements, which for me takes it out of the pure puzzle league. It’s not enough to be able to figure out the puzzle, you have to time the actions pretty precisely. I’ve gotten stuck in a place because I simply can’t react fast enough, and I get tired of reloading the damn game because I don’t have the reflexes of an 18 year old any more.

Still, it’s in the puzzle genre. Maybe the “action puzzler” subgenre, but still a puzzle game.

It’s more puzzler than action, but the action bit prevents me from solving it. For the most part, I was able to look at what was happening in the game, figure out how to solve the puzzle, and do it. But in certain areas, timing was critical.


Huh? You mean Tower Of Hanoi style box stacking? That’s sure a puzzle, but I think gamers by this point can solve Tower Of Hanoi without even paying attention. If not I have no idea what you mean.