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GenoForPrez

The Greatest Point-and-Click PUZZLES of All Time

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You are not limited to any particular decade. Out of all the point-and-click adventures you have ever played on anything ever, what puzzle was the best of the best? What puzzle stands out in your memory as zomg-that-puzzle?

I'll kick it off with my most memorable:

Game: Riven (Myst II)

Puzzle Location: Main Dome Island

Puzzle Objective: Map the locations of all spinning domes in the world of Riven.

The map grid puzzle on the Main Dome Island is one of the most genius but complicated puzzles I can remember doing in a point-and-click. For those who never had the pleasure, the world of Riven consists of several islands that you hop around via little roller coaster cars (video). Each of the islands has a spinning golden dome on it, which you can get inside of by hacking a sort of password puzzle. Once inside, there is a sort of viewfinder puzzle (screenshot) that reveals to you a symbol. It's not immediately clear what the significance of the symbol is early in the game. And that's all the spinning domes do!

Later, when you reach the Plateau Island, there is a complicated map room that lets you view elevations (screenshot) of all the islands, and the geography makes it clear where the spinning domes on all the islands are located. Using those elevations, you pinpoint the coordinates of the spinning domes on the map grid and write them down. Like, on actual paper. (No in-game quest journals!) Then there is another secret underwater room on the island with a special chair (screenshot) that, when you press buttons on it, associates colors with symbols. The symbols are the ones you found in the spinning domes, so this lets you associate a color with each of the spinning domes.

You then take ALL OF THAT information back to the Main Dome Island, where there is a huge grid inside the main dome. Next to the grid are a bunch of colored marbles. You have to use the coordinates you found and the color associations you found to place the colored marbles (solution) on the 625-square grid to accurately map the exact locations of all the spinning domes in the entire world of Riven. Even then, you find out that some of the information is missing and literally impossible to find, so one color and one marble location have to be figured out purely by deduction.

*brain explosion*

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Can't stand those games, and those puzzles are (part of) the reason. Sliding tiles, symbols, codes, buttons et al...yuck! ;)

I've just replayed Day of the Tentacle and have found myself smiling at the ingenuity of many of the puzzles. The one exception was getting 2 million to buy a diamond. That was just nonsense! But the whole sending things through back and forward in time- in particular, obtaining the vinegar- was used so, so brilliantly. That game to me has by and large exemplary puzzle-design.

By and large, though, it's the stories and characters that stick in my mind when it comes to adventure games, not the puzzles.

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My favourite is probably the coded message puzzle in Gabriel Knight 1. So extremely clever and logical. I disagree that what sticks in mind are necessarily story and characters anyway; it depends on the focus of the game mostly.

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it is not by luck you can actully find all the doms on the mape just for one instead of looking for a bump you look for the indent the pipe comes out of

that puzzle is solveable on first try if you pay close atention to things

there is no guss work needed all the info is given somewhere else in the game

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I've just replayed Day of the Tentacle and have found myself smiling at the ingenuity of many of the puzzles.

Indeed. I haven't played it in many, many years, but DotT stands in my memory as one of the best collection of puzzles I've seen. The Chron-O-John was a marvelous puzzle device.

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Oooh, Zack and Wiki had some brilliant ones -- I mean, the entire game was about making cool puzzles using point & click mechanics. So there were many ones which I think could qualify for being among the best point and click puzzles...

For the best one, I'm going to have to go with "the painted secret," which had many elements unique to that puzzle but also had its own very clear cut internal logic. Don't watch if you ever intend to play the game.

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i second DoT as a whole. that "send objects through time" concept was just brilliant.

i also needed some time to figure out how to open the giant monkey head on monkey island. but i was 12 at the time - finally i got the solution in a dream.

also, gobliins had some fun puzzles.

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Can't stand those games, and those puzzles are (part of) the reason. Sliding tiles, symbols, codes, buttons et al...yuck! ;)

I've just replayed Day of the Tentacle and have found myself smiling at the ingenuity of many of the puzzles. The one exception was getting 2 million to buy a diamond. That was just nonsense! But the whole sending things through back and forward in time- in particular, obtaining the vinegar- was used so, so brilliantly. That game to me has by and large exemplary puzzle-design.

By and large, though, it's the stories and characters that stick in my mind when it comes to adventure games, not the puzzles.

I disagree - the $2 million to buy a diamond thing was a great puzzle. They explained it well, you knew exactly what you were meant to achieve and you just had to figure out how to achieve it.

The only puzzle in the game that made me go "urgh." when I solved it was getting the dentures off the horse. That was a true "use every item in your inventory on the horse" puzzle and didn't leave me feeling satisfied when I worked it out. How was I to know that the horse found that particular book boring and would then fall asleep?

My favourite puzzle from DOTT is probably the hamster one. It's just so layered and all comes together in such an awesome way.

My favourite puzzles of all time from other games...

SOMI: Probably following the shopkeeper. That was the first puzzle where you truly had a sense of "aha! I've figured something out here!"

MI2: Winning the drinking contest.

CMI: You can't go past the map puzzle. The scary thing about that puzzle is it MAKES SENSE. Ew.

EMI: No puzzles really stood out for me. None of them are really "memorable" - but there is some great dialogue (the things you say in the school, some of the pop culture references "Brass Monkey. THAT FUNKY MONKEY!")

Sam & Max Hit the Road: I really enjoy the first one. Getting the orders out of the cat. It was when you figured out that Max was useful!

Full Throttle: Stealing the gas!

Grim Fandango: Stealing the metal detector and using it in the morgue.

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EMI: No puzzles really stood out for me. None of them are really "memorable" - but there is some great dialogue (the things you say in the school, some of the pop culture references "Brass Monkey. THAT FUNKY MONKEY!")

The only puzzle in EMI that stood out to me in any way was the one where you interacted with a future Guybrush then later had to repeat that encounter as the future Guybrush. The puzzle itself wasn't too remarkable, but something about the concept itself made it pretty memorable, as well as amusing.

Dialogue really was definitely EMI's strongest point. It's just too bad that so much of the rest of the game fell short.

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As most already have said, Day Of The Tentacle had some of the best puzzles I've ever seen. It has been many years since I played it but "the contest" is probably the one I remember the most. Dress up a mummy and make it win different categories by among other things make the other contesters fail (I believe something about a fake vomit was in there).

"Le Serpent Rouge" in Gabriel Knight 3 is also one of the best puzzles ever. You had to read texts and examine many different locations for clues which when solved had to be marked on a map. Been a while since I played this one as well but it really felt like you were cracking the biggest historical riddle ever made.

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Yeah, “Le Serpent Rouge” is a classic, but also incredibly difficult. The game really doesn't nudge you much towards the solution, so I party solved it with the help of the walkthrough. But I still am astonished by the complexity of this huge interlocked puzzle chain. Certainly quite the achievement, and to think that this appeared in the same game that featured that cat hair mustache puzzle...

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It's amazing how many people (me included) finds the DOTT time-traveling puzzles great.

Indeed they were really creative puzzles, the hamster in the fridge, the sweater in the laundry machine, the flag...All of them a joy.

And i know that Ron in his last playtrough didn't find them amusing, but the insult swordfighting still does the trick for me.

Also Simon the Sorcerer II is one of my favorite games and i remembered this one puzzle where there is this cat you need to catch but everytime you get near it runs away. You got to make him run a couple of times (until it goes to a cabin), and once in there you have to close the door and make the cat run again. It knocks itself out with the door. It was so simple, yet not that obvious, and above all, really funny.

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Not a puzzle, but I loved the "Pirate I was meant to be" song/puzzle from monkey island 3

DOTT, time travel related puzzles were GREAT. changing things in the past to change the future? amazing concept.

Monkey Island 2, loved the random shop where you bought tons of junk with no idea what it did (and also tried to buy EVERYTHING ELSE IN THE STORE) with no idea what it would do.. but just to have the items.

Also, loved the prison thing, heh.

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DOTT - send wine forward through time to make vinegar.

I thought that was a bad puzzle. Great idea, but if you don't know that's basically what'd happen if you leave wine for ages, there's no way of knowing (that I can remember). Correct me if I'm wrong.

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DOTT - send wine forward through time to make vinegar.

I thought that was a bad puzzle. Great idea, but if you don't know that's basically what'd happen if you leave wine for ages, there's no way of knowing (that I can remember). Correct me if I'm wrong.

It's a tricky question, trying to decide how much knowledge a puzzle should require of people. I think that puzzle was good for that reason, but if DOTT had been a game specifically aimed at children it would have been bad. Localization can be a problem, too, as with MI2's "monkey wrench" - an obvious pun to Americans, but less so to the rest of the English-speaking world.

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DOTT - send wine forward through time to make vinegar.

I thought that was a bad puzzle. Great idea, but if you don't know that's basically what'd happen if you leave wine for ages, there's no way of knowing (that I can remember). Correct me if I'm wrong.

It's a tricky question, trying to decide how much knowledge a puzzle should require of people. I think that puzzle was good for that reason, but if DOTT had been a game specifically aimed at children it would have been bad. Localization can be a problem, too, as with MI2's "monkey wrench" - an obvious pun to Americans, but less so to the rest of the English-speaking world.

Even as an adult, it's not entirely obvious to me that wine + time = vinegar. It's not something that comes up very often. In fact, I think the only reason I know now that that is sort of a thing, is because of DOTT! It's never come up since.

I don't think that a puzzle should require ANY knowledge that you find out except inside the game, ideally, with the exception of knowledge of the language the game is written (so you can understand it). A puzzle isn't about knowing facts, it's about looking at the set of facts you're given and negotiating through them to find the solution.

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Even as an adult, it's not entirely obvious to me that wine + time = vinegar. It's not something that comes up very often. In fact, I think the only reason I know now that that is sort of a thing, is because of DOTT! It's never come up since.

I think it's something every wine-drinking adult knows, surely - you just have to leave a bottle open for too long, or just take too long to finish it.

I don't think that a puzzle should require ANY knowledge that you find out except inside the game, ideally, with the exception of knowledge of the language the game is written (so you can understand it). A puzzle isn't about knowing facts, it's about looking at the set of facts you're given and negotiating through them to find the solution.

I'm afraid that's unreasonable to the point of being nonsensical. It's an attitude you could take to something like Professor Layton -style games, but traditional adventure puzzles absolutely require knowledge, that's how they all work, that's how lateral thinking works. A game isn't going to tell you that a knife could cut a rope, it's something you know anyway. It's why they're more interesting than self-contained Layton puzzles, and I believe it makes them more involving, too.

Edit: this is, furthermore, a corollary of the fact that all fiction draws on our "extra-fictive" knowledge, so to speak, because it would be an endless and impossible task to specify everything about a fictional world.

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Completely agree with Aristotlol.

And if you don't know stuff like the wine/vinegar puzzle? Well, that's part of the fun of playing adventure games! Educational! ;)

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Even as an adult, it's not entirely obvious to me that wine + time = vinegar. It's not something that comes up very often. In fact, I think the only reason I know now that that is sort of a thing, is because of DOTT! It's never come up since.

I think it's something every wine-drinking adult knows, surely - you just have to leave a bottle open for too long, or just take too long to finish it.

No it isn't. I know that if you leave wine it goes bad, tastes nasty and sharp but I wouldn't necessarily make the leap to vinegar, and nobody has specifically TOLD me that this is what happens, outside of a discussion about DOTT. Take it from me, as someone who is an adult who drinks wine, and isn't a complete moron.

I don't think that a puzzle should require ANY knowledge that you find out except inside the game, ideally, with the exception of knowledge of the language the game is written (so you can understand it). A puzzle isn't about knowing facts, it's about looking at the set of facts you're given and negotiating through them to find the solution.

I'm afraid that's unreasonable to the point of being nonsensical. It's an attitude you could take to something like Professor Layton -style games, but traditional adventure puzzles absolutely require knowledge, that's how they all work, that's how lateral thinking works. A game isn't going to tell you that a knife could cut a rope, it's something you know anyway. It's why they're more interesting than self-contained Layton puzzles, and I believe it makes them more involving, too.

You only have to be aware of the language (which I made the exception for) to know that a knife is a sharp tool designed for cutting things, so your point doesn't even address what I was saying. Yes, I am allowing for the fact that you need to be able to know what words mean. Like a knife is a thing for cutting stuff, that sharp things cut stuff. That a shop is a place you can go to buy stuff. That a saw is a tool used for cutting stuff like wood. And so on. I would have thought that was obvious from what I said. Can't you see how that's different to the wine example? If you asked someone what wine was, they wouldn't say 'it's an alcoholic drink that goes vinegary if you leave it out for a long time.'

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Completely agree with Aristotlol.

And if you don't know stuff like the wine/vinegar puzzle? Well, that's part of the fun of playing adventure games! Educational! ;)

Well, you can both be wrong, then ;)

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Take it from me, as someone who is an adult who drinks wine, and isn't a complete moron.

You say that, but then you also say

I know that if you leave wine it goes bad, tastes nasty and sharp but I wouldn't necessarily make the leap to vinegar, and nobody has specifically TOLD me that this is what happens, outside of a discussion about DOTT.

(joking)

You only have to be aware of the language (which I made the exception for) to know that a knife is a sharp tool designed for cutting things, so your point doesn't even address what I was saying.

I'm afraid it does, my good fellow! For one thing you're making a dubious claim about how much knowledge a language involves. Let's say an adventure game needs you to break a window, and you have a brick. Your knowledge of folk physics from the real world lets you know that you can throw the brick through the window. You can't claim that part of the definition of "brick" is "can be thrown through windows".

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Take it from me, as someone who is an adult who drinks wine, and isn't a complete moron.

You say that, but then you also say

I know that if you leave wine it goes bad, tastes nasty and sharp but I wouldn't necessarily make the leap to vinegar, and nobody has specifically TOLD me that this is what happens, outside of a discussion about DOTT.

(joking)

You only have to be aware of the language (which I made the exception for) to know that a knife is a sharp tool designed for cutting things, so your point doesn't even address what I was saying.

I'm afraid it does, my good fellow! For one thing you're making a dubious claim about how much knowledge a language involves. Let's say an adventure game needs you to break a window, and you have a brick. Your knowledge of folk physics from the real world lets you know that you can throw the brick through the window. You can't claim that part of the definition of "brick" is "can be thrown through windows".

Okay, now I think you're taking my statement a little too literally. I bet you've done a philosophy degree (takes one to know one), my slightly patronisingly good fellow.

Now. Obviously I'm not talking about dictionary definitions here. You're right about the brick example, but if you know what a brick is, you know it's a hard, heavy thing. If you know what a window is, you know that it's the sort of thing that if you chuck a big heavy thing at hard enough, it'll break. That's not part of the definition of what a brick or a window is, but if you understand what a brick is, and you understand what a window is, you understand that a brick's gonna go right through that thing if you chuck it hard. Sure, that assumes that you understand that glass is fragile in comparison with a brick, but I think anyone with a reasonably good understanding of what a brick and a window is WILL understand that. Maybe that's an assumption too far, but since I'm just talking about good rules of thumb here (rather than hard and fast rules), I'm happy to make that assumption. (EDIT: If you're not happy to make that assumption, can we add 'folk physics' to the list of things the game is allowed to assume you know, as well as language? I mean, really.)

On the other hand, if you understand what wine is, you're not necessarily going to understand that old wine can be a vinegar substitute. You have to be able to understand a bunch of other stuff along with what wine basically is. You have to understand what happens to wine when you leave it for a long time. And even then, you have to understand more than just 'it goes bad', you have to understand that it could be a vinegar substitute. I've tasted gone-bad wine before, and my immediate reaction is usually 'ugh, that tastes horrible!' rather than 'well, let's save this for the fish and chips.' I don't think the aging processes of various different materials is a thing that a game should assume we know.

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So what you're saying is that we should dumb the games down? I think the intellect involved is part of the fun. Do you also think that they should not do puzzles that require you to know that without friction a feather and a brick released together will reach the ground together? Or that mixing yellow and blue paints would yield a green paint? Or that foxes eat chicken? Or that a cat always falls on its feet?

Machenarium even did an absolute pitch puzzle. It is definitely not given that every person playing the game has absolute pitch, but then they can try harder (I don't have absolute pitch but succeeded eventually).

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