My God, have I played a metric crap ton of point-and-click adventure games this year. It seems like nearly every time I check my inbox at work, I have another point-and-click announcement. I’m happy that the genre has come back, and some developers have made some really great games, such as Kathy Rain, The Order of the Thorne, and Heaven’s Hope. However, as our market has been slightly flooded with these games, I find that my tolerance for a certain element often used has ceased all together. I am sick and tired of the nonsensical puzzle solutions prevalent in these games.
Double Fine by far is the worst offender. I think they find it to be charming and whimsical to have solutions comprised of crazy combinations that hardly make sense. A friend of mine recently replayed Grim Fandango when it was remastered, and she told me how the puzzle solutions were often ridiculous. When I asked how she found the answer if they were so crazy, she said it was a matter of combining everything you could think of in your inventory and then trying all of it. Puzzles are supposed to be brain teasers, I’ve always believed, and the solution should make some sort of sense, even in a video game world. Granted, I don’t always figure out a solution and I’ll look it up if I’m absolutely stumped. However, to find that that solution doesn’t make sense to me at all is pretty unforgivable.
I experienced this issue a lot with Broken Age, and I’ve been getting it quite a bit lately with the revival of King’s Quest. I really enjoyed the original games, and while I found the puzzles difficult, I never once found them to be unfair or nonsensical. This new episodic game has taken a strange leap back into the nonsensical with puzzle solutions. After playing something as deep and meaningful as Kathy Rain, which had some complicated puzzles, I no longer have the patience for ridiculous solutions. Your puzzle solution should make sense, even if I have to turn to help to find it. Making a tree throw up sap into a bucket to use as an emulsifier does make sense. Holding up a book cover in front of a magic mirror that shows what the gazer looked like when it was younger does not sense. I mean, really King’s Quest; why in the world would the clock’s hands change on a fucking book cover? Even if you’re trying to say that the clock’s hands were different in an earlier edition, that doesn’t mean THIS PARTICULAR book would look that way when it was first printed.
When I looked up that puzzle solution and saw that was the answer, I nearly beat my head on my keyboard. Be clever. Clever doesn’t mean batshit insane.