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Poll: How difficult was the game for you?

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As you'll recall in the previous episode, we already were planning to make Act 2 harder than Act 1. Want to have a nice continuous ramp in difficulty!

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Hey Greg, is all of act 1 content-locked, or is there still a chance to revise some puzzles to make them slightly more difficult. (Probably a stupid question)

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As you'll recall in the previous episode, we already were planning to make Act 2 harder than Act 1. Want to have a nice continuous ramp in difficulty!

Thanks, for the update Greg. This would be a step towards the right direction. Don't be afraid to push the bar high on difficulty. People, are not discouraged playing a challenging game, they are not put off from complex puzzles. What makes them angry, are only silly solutions. Even impossible puzzles (for the novice gamer), one or two moments that would have everybody, and when I say everybody, I mean it, to scratch theirs head, and look desperately for some missing clue, are necessary in order for your game (our game to be more specific) to differentiate from the heap. As far as the player, gets the solution, even through a walkthrough, and this solution is based on logic and clues, that were simply so well hidden, that he just neglected them, he will only smile and appreciate more the challenge you offered him!

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I voted that they were 'too easy'. But I think it's more about how the puzzles are presented than the actual figuring them out.

The main thing I noticed was that I'd usually be given items to solve the puzzle before I got to the puzzle itself, so most of the time when I came to something I had to solve I just had to glance in my inventory and use the obvious choice. There weren't many occasions where I had to sit and think "Hm. I wonder how I can get by this. Oh, I know! I go and get an X, or maybe try and get that characters Y!". Coming to a puzzle and solving it on the spot isn't very satisfying.

-- Minor spoilers Below! --

The worst case of this was the Riddle of Yorn. I had the fruit in my inventory for a while by that point, and as soon as I was challenged with the riddle I didn't even have to pay attention. I just knew the answer would be the fruit since I'd had it so long. It was a bit bothersome since I really like riddles.

I really hope the difficulty is ramped way up for part II. Still very enjoyable either way though!

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I personally liked the way they solved this in the Monkey Island: Special Edition games with their Hint system:

It was three-tiered with a not-so-obvious, obvious, and DO THIS! type of hint for each puzzle. So the puzzles could remain as "hard" as they were and if people got stuck they either had the decision to stay stubborn and push on till they got them without any hints and if they just couldn't bother with them they didn't need the Internet or a Walkthrough but just displayed the Hint as to what they got to do.

Another added enticement to not use any Hints was an Achievement that you got by playing the game without using any Hints I believe.

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I voted that they were 'too easy'. But I think it's more about how the puzzles are presented than the actual figuring them out.

The main thing I noticed was that I'd usually be given items to solve the puzzle before I got to the puzzle itself, so most of the time when I came to something I had to solve I just had to glance in my inventory and use the obvious choice. There weren't many occasions where I had to sit and think "Hm. I wonder how I can get by this. Oh, I know! I go and get an X, or maybe try and get that characters Y!". Coming to a puzzle and solving it on the spot isn't very satisfying.

-- Minor spoilers Below! --

The worst case of this was the Riddle of Yorn. I had the fruit in my inventory for a while by that point, and as soon as I was challenged with the riddle I didn't even have to pay attention. I just knew the answer would be the fruit since I'd had it so long. It was a bit bothersome since I really like riddles.

I really hope the difficulty is ramped way up for part II. Still very enjoyable either way though!

*Spoilers, but you should be finished if reading this thread anyways.*

Gotta agree with this post right here. There was very little discovery beyond simply acquiring the right items. Often if you had the items from just being diligent, you would never backtrack. Dialog paths seemed to be completely exposed from the start. Someone brought up the example of Vella and hat, and this is a PERFECT example of something that could be fixed in an update with Act 2 perhaps. Simply requiring the player to see the sap puke first, then have that trigger a dialog flag to comment on collecting the sap somehow and unlock the option to collect the hat from the Mayor. This makes some kind of sense and the whole puzzle would feel more like we put it together ourselves rather than just fitting together random pieces.

Pretty much the only things we can interact with are the items we acquire, and people. Some rooms, like the Lumberjack's cabin, should have far more interactivity. There is a window, an axe, an art, and some boards. It feels like the only thing you don't collect is the boards. This occurs in Shay's world quite a bit as well, as the simulator rooms are fairly barren, with only one or two objects to inspect.

Another great example of item dependency is the fruit in Meriloft. The fruit is mentioned by Gus if you talk to him, but if you were one of many who accidentally solved that puzzle early (this should be fixed, make it the other portal instead), or if you simply don't grasp any significance from it, nothing requires you to gather the fruit at all before leaving Meriloft. Since this is such a big transition, I think most people would expect the game to make sure they have what they need to progress. Unfortunately, I did not collect the fruit (just forgot to go back after Harm'ny), and thus spent quite a long time searching for an item along the beach I could use.

Almost none of the dialog choices really required any clever solutions unfortunately, most required you to either use an item on the character, or just try the other dialog choice.

So, my criticisms off the top of my head:

* More items to inspect. The distraction is necessary for world building, and to challenge us to find things.

* Hidden dialog tree options. Make us need an object before we might go looking for it. Then reveal dialog for it.

* Change a few of the Act 1 Puzzles. Nothing huge, but a few small tweaks could make them much more engaging. To expand on that:

Simple difficulty bumps:

Shay:

* Hide the vent key somewhere in the room, require Shay to dig through more stuff to find it. Have Marek give a note instead hintng at this.

* Hide something in the trash disposal. Maybe require the whip cream dispenser to use a nozzle you could find here or something.

* Require Shay to find Grabbin Gary's remote, or to replace the batteries.

* Make escaping the routine a bit more difficult. It is true you have to do it a few times, but there is zero difficulty in it, as it is very obviously stated by Shay as the solution many times if you wait on the train stage. Remove this dialog, or trigger it only if the player has been through that "bored" version of it 2-3 times already.

Vella:

* The hat situation above.

* Make the fruit necessary to leave Meriloft somehow. Pick up two and be required to feed one to Jessie so you have the spare for the riddle, and it isn't an obvious solution because you already used it.

* Move the hole in the clouds that releases Gus to be the upper one. Might not have visual symmetry, but it would prevent more folks from missing his character entirely.

@Tim and anyone on the team reading though: I still loved this game quite a lot. The art style is amazing, and I think this was by far the right choice. The music is phenomenal, and the dialog had me smiling the entire time, as well as the voice actors. The only thing missing here is the difficulty. I think the genre being "retired" so long, and all the pressure from this probably made you guys over-estimate how tough this might be for us, or perhaps you just really wanted to go easy on us for Act 1. But I hope Act 1 and 2 can be revisited, and brought up to a slightly tougher level. The game theory behind your designs are sound, and watching the documentary you have spoken before on not wanting to highlight useless objects, and use the right visual language, etc. But I think this was focused on a little too heavily here.

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Way too easy. Would not have backed had I known this was the targeted difficulty level. Doesn't really matter if Act 2 is harder, I expected to be challenged straight away and not spend several hours on what is almost an interactive movie.

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The Easy option doesn't quite convey just how very easy.

I though 90% of the inventory puzzles were effortlessly easy. All the multiple choice conversation puzzles I got right on the first try, because the the best line was so obvious.

There were only a couple inventory puzzles where I tried something else initially, not quite sure if it would work and I would call those easy. I carried the laser coil around for a bit and I didn't pass around the corset right away.

Funny thing is I did ride the train rollercoaster a couple times before considering that the head might simply obey different commands aswell (not used to getting freebies in AGs I guess).

I breezed through the rest.

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The results are skewed because the answers come from hard core Tim Schafer connaisseurs who have already finished the game.

They will not be of any value before the slackers have started reacting over here. If they will at all.

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The results are skewed because the answers come from hard core Tim Schafer connaisseurs who have already finished the game.

They will not be of any value before the slackers have started reacting over here. If they will at all.

This was supposed to be a game made specifically for the hardcore adventure game fans without any of the comprises or dumbing down that a publisher would have asked for. The hardcore answers are really the ONLY ones that matter.

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I still haven't finished up Shay's storyline yet. But from what I have played, it was fairly easy. There were a few times where I got stuck and had no idea what to do and ended up retracing through the game and trying everything before eventually getting it. Turns out on most of them I had the right idea, just the way of executing them I got wrong. Here were the issues for me:

**SPOILERS**

In Vella's story where you had to use the sap to stiffen up the sand for the Maiden's feast; I kept trying to use the sap directly on the ribbon or the bucket on the crane for the longest time before it occurred to me that I had to actually give it to the "mayor" maiden's feast planner guy. I would say it took around 20-30 minutes to figure out I actually had to give it to the mayor. I figured that since it wasn't working on the construction site, I probably had to harden it somehow to serve as the quartz crystal thing for the spaceship.

SPEAKING OF THE QUARTZ CRYSTAL THING. I had no idea where to find that once I figured out what you actually had to do with the sap. I kept retracing and retracing until I found it. It was a bit frustrating, but I will admit it was satisfying after I did find it so I think that puzzle is alright. Just wasn't obvious. (Unlike that key for the spaceship to wake up the blind eye god. sooo obvious)

I also got stuck on the puzzle in Shay's story where you're stuck on the train and you need to fall off the tracks. For the longest time I didn't realize you could just put him back to sleep so I kept trying to throw the spoon or grabbin' gary into his mouth once his mouth was open so that he would close his mouth again. After that clearly didn't work, the way the cute little patron computer thing was talking that was holding the tracks... I kept thinking she would eventually let go. She kept saying things like "I can't hold it much longer...!" and "I'm going to have to let go in a second!" I literally sat there for a solid 10 minutes thinking "This is clearly the solution, when is this dumb idiot going to let go?! ...did I find a glitch?" But eventually I got it and although it was satisfying; I thought it was satisfying in all the wrong ways. It just felt dumb and I was happy to get past it.

EDIT: Oh another one I kinda got stuck on was the way you had to get past Gus to get Jessie's egg back. I kept trying to give the ladder to Gus to help him down and was getting really upset that Vella wouldn't just stay still and help him down already. The puzzle confused me for awhile but once it clicked I really liked it. Good puzzle.

Also the snake was confusing. I kept thinking I had to get past the snake for some reason. Maybe I still do, I don't know. I haven't finished the game yet.

**SPOILERS**

Hope this helps.

EDIT:

Edit:

Re-reading this post, I sound really negative towards a lot of these puzzles. I just thought I would make it clear that when it comes to adventure games, I love being stumped and figuring out the weird and creative solutions to puzzles are what makes it satisfying and fun. The game was a really enjoyable experience from what I've played of it.

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Because it's not what we expected. Why back another game if it's going to be just the same thing? I'd probably buy another Kickstarted adventure eventually if it got released afterwards in a Humble Bundle or something, but I wouldn't back it. That style of adventure game is not what I want to support.

I'd back another Double Fine adventure game in a heartbeat. Easy or not, it has a great story, and it was $15 for not only (a presumed) 8 hours of gameplay, but also a great documentary that's several hours long. I would have felt I got my money's worth if I'd spent $30 on it.

I agree. I feel very satisfied with my choice to back this. I've complained about the difficulty, and it is an issue, but I only care about that issue because I love everything else about the game so much! And being able to watch a 45 minute documentary on the process once a month, how can you even put a price on that? I'm a huge fan of double fine, and very into the game development process, so I couldn't ask for more.

But...if I could...please make harder maybe? THANKS DF!

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I'd back another Double Fine adventure game in a heartbeat. Easy or not, it has a great story, and it was $15 for not only (a presumed) 8 hours of gameplay, but also a great documentary that's several hours long. I would have felt I got my money's worth if I'd spent $30 on it.

I agree. I feel very satisfied with my choice to back this. I've complained about the difficulty, and it is an issue, but I only care about that issue because I love everything else about the game so much! And being able to watch a 45 minute documentary on the process once a month, how can you even put a price on that? I'm a huge fan of double fine, and very into the game development process, so I couldn't ask for more.

But...if I could...please make harder maybe? THANKS DF!

^ My exact feelings! I love the game but I really hope we'll see that promised difficulty ramp :)

At the same time, I can see that the current hint system has its place in the game. My sister tried the game out of curiosity - she's the type of player who just gives up when she's frustrated by a puzzle, which is why she never finished any LucasArts game, to my great chagrin. However she was able to breeze through this game in an afternoon and she was ecstatic about it, saying it was the most creative game she's seen in a long time. She'd never have been able to experience the great story if not for the "little help" the puzzle design gave her, and for this, I'm grateful. Watching her play was a real eye-opener for me.

At the same time... I really think a "switch" to turn hints off would do a world of difference for hardcore players. The puzzles are creative enough, we just need less blinking neon arrows pointing to the solution :D

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While I did get stuck, it seemed like it was always because I was overestimating the puzzle.

As an example, for a puzzle near the end of Vella's section:

I understood immediately that I needed the sap to build the arena.

I was still stuck for a solid half hour.

Why?

Look at the bucket.

Look at the rope.

Talk to the maidens.

Use sap on the rope: Nothing.

Use sap on bucket: "I'm not sure how that would help"

Wait, am I on the wrong track?

Walk up to the clouds, walk around for a bit. Can I use the sap on a hole in the clouds so it would fall down to the ocean below? No, seems like not.

Okay, maybe I'll go back to the pyramid.

Talk to the cultists, nothing new.

Talk to the God, little "ready for the battle?" talk and done.

I talk to the mayor, try to find some new dialog option, no.

The concept that "use sap on man" was the right option simply didn't occur.

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Okay, this is interesting to me. I find it fascinating how reactions to the difficulty could vary so much. I don't have a long history with adventure games, as I did not really play any PC games back in the day. I played most of the classics eventually, but years later. I backed this project mainly because I like Tim's writing and Double Fine's whole style so much, and wanted them to get to do whatever they wanted without publisher interference.

So having said that, you may not be surprised to learn that I was pretty satisfied with this in every way, including the difficulty. I chose "Slightly Difficulty (Just Right)". However, I want to clarify that I did that knowing full well that Act 2 will be harder and taking that into consideration. In other words, I'm saying that I consider the game "just right" for the first half of an adventure game.

*****SPOILERS*************************************SPOILERS*******************************************************

I did get stuck a few times. The Riddle Yorn had me for a while and I felt genuinely pleased with myself when I figured it out. I wasted a lot of time trying to get past that Snake. I got stuck briefly in Shay's area because I missed the whipped cream gun and so I was trying to solve the puzzle with insufficient items. The funny thing is, there's a nice red herring in the form of the trash bin which it tells you will propel whatever's in it out to space. So when I first tried to leave without the gun/jetpack, Shay says "If I only had some form of propulsion" and I was sure you were supposed to somehow get into the trash bin. And it tells you that only the sweeper bot can open it. And I was SO sure that that was right that even when I found the dang gun/jetpack I tried to use it to make a mess which I thought might make the sweeper bot appear. Boy I felt silly when I finally figured that one out. At the very end of Vella's act, when fighting Mog Chothra, I was stuck for a while. I actually consulted a walk through but only because I thought I was encountering a bug. No bug. I just hadn't figured it out.

*****END SPOILERS********************************END SPOILERS****************************************************

On most of these I was stuck for maybe 15-20 minutes and on the Riddle of Yorn maybe more like 30 minutes. My full play through was a little over 5 hours. I can say that, personally, I would not have enjoyed being stuck for much longer than that. When I played Monkey Island, which was when the Special Edition came out on XBLA, there were times when I was stuck for much MUCH longer than that (2+hours), and I was pretty frustrated. In those cases, when I would figure it all out (and often times it was more or less what I knew I needed to do but I just couldn't figure out the right combination of commands to do it) I did not really feel pleased with myself in that desirable way when you solve a good puzzle. My reaction was more one of relief, like "Finally, Jesus!"

So again, recognizing that this was the first part and that it will only get harder from here, I was pretty satisfied. It is easier than Monkey Island and Day of the Tentacle but that is okay with me. If Act 2 picks up right where this left off then I may be stuck for 15-30 minutes on every puzzle from here on out, in which case Act 2 would also take me much longer to complete.

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I found the difficulty level extremely easy and the puzzles in general to be extremely simply and disappointing. The only time I got stuck was the teleporter sequence. The only reason I got stuck was that I didn't realize I could walk to the rest of the ship, and I thought I had to do something clever with the teleporters. I really thought I was going to have to build a fake person with the helmet, then send it through the teleporter to trick it into growing the helmet so I could put it on. Imagine now my disappointment when I realized all I would be doing was walking around instead of solving a cool puzzle.

The only time I can remember combining two items in the inventory was in the cloud city, and I think it only happened once.

I wasn't expecting something as hard as The Secret of Monkey Island, but I was expecting to have to think about how to solve puzzles instead of being able to try all options in about 5 minutes (and often less). I was expecting to have to combine items or use one item to transform another item at least once per "area" (in my mind the areas of this game are Vella's home village, the cloud city, the beach village, and then the spaceship Shay is on). I was expecting some more "adventure game logic" and red herring items.

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Overall I can accept the simple difficulty of the puzzles if Act 2 is indeed as ramped up as I'm hoping it is. It seems weird to think it might be, but then we've never played half a game before. It does feel short and easy, but I really do hope that's just the result of it being cut in half. I'm definitely going to have to come back after a year or so and replay the game in its entirety to see how good it is puzzle-wise and length-wise from a fresh perspective.

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Overall I can accept the simple difficulty of the puzzles if Act 2 is indeed as ramped up as I'm hoping it is. It seems weird to think it might be, but then we've never played half a game before. It does feel short and easy, but I really do hope that's just the result of it being cut in half. I'm definitely going to have to come back after a year or so and replay the game in its entirety to see how good it is puzzle-wise and length-wise from a fresh perspective.

Act 1 of Monkey Island or Year 1 of Grim Fandango both have much more complex puzzles, so I'm not really buying that the first half of a game is supposed to be so easy the player barely thinks.

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I voted for "Slightly Difficult - made me think (just right)". I got stuck twice, both because I overlooked a area and an item. I wouldn't mind more complex puzzles in Act I however I do appreciate that Act I didn't have any Click-everything-on-everything or illogical puzzles.

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Mixed bag for me. Enjoyed the game, and there were points where I was stuck. I do think we could have been forced to explore a bit more in many cases. Pretty often you have what you need to solve the puzzles before you get to them, unless you happened to simply miss an item while exploring. (This is really the only time I was stuck for a while, since I missed the item you need to solve the riddle and it took me quite a while to eventually backtrack all the way and grab it.) There were also puzzles that I was pleased by the need for a little logic to solve, even if the solution came fairly quickly. Maybe my lack of super hardcore (rather just experienced) point-n-click skills are showing, since a few of my leaps of logic wouldn't have mattered if I compulsively tried to combine every item I got every time I got an item. Mostly I did that the two or three times I got stuck for a few minutes (or 30, for that damn riddle). And there were definitely a smattering of red herrings in the game which I wasted time on.

The one big critique that does resonate with me is the pacing - in certain areas of the story and with the hints. I was intentionally trying to take my time and savor Shay's opening act, but almost immediately the game is fast forwarding time. In fact, I found it rather bizarre how surprised Shay seems to be the first time in each scene, since he's obviously been through these things before you even start playing. I wish the initial scenes were actually a bit more drawn out - to accentuate the fact that they start to fast forward later on - gently pushing you to 'break the cycle' rather than practically screaming it at you. I actually found Shay's 'I've got to get out of this cycle' boringly redundant.

But now I'm kind of straying from the point of this poll a little. I do believe the need for a little solving could be increased by removing many of the often excessive hints - or having some logic in there to dole them out only after being stuck for some amount of time, etc. However, for the first half of the game it was not that bad. Could it have been slightly harder? Yeah. Remove some hints, maybe require an extra step before you can pick up certain items. But I don't think it needed to be a lot harder - not yet.

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I voted for "too easy" because it was way way way to easy. Considering the few interaction points in the "rooms" most puzzles solved themselves basically. I didn't really have to think in this game, just working through the dialog trees and interactive points made the solutions really obvious. Which is also the biggest problem the game has: There is ZERO CHALLENGE involved in completing it. Thus really not giving you that nice rewarding feeling that you actually accomplished something. You experience a pretty good story, but you don't feel like you accomplished anything. Something that really should be the case when you complete a game.

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Because it's not what we expected. Why back another game if it's going to be just the same thing? I'd probably buy another Kickstarted adventure eventually if it got released afterwards in a Humble Bundle or something, but I wouldn't back it. That style of adventure game is not what I want to support.

I'd back another Double Fine adventure game in a heartbeat. Easy or not, it has a great story, and it was $15 for not only (a presumed) 8 hours of gameplay, but also a great documentary that's several hours long. I would have felt I got my money's worth if I'd spent $30 on it.

Yeah, I feel totally satisfied, and we're not even done yet. another 3 or so documentary episodes, and the 2nd half of the game are still coming with the promise of building difficulty. Rad.

That being said, I think the idea of not letting certain dialogue tree options appear until there is an established puzzle motivation is a great suggestion. Otherwise Vella is just a kleptomaniac asking to take the mayor's hat. That is a perfect example of random item acquisition being a little too easy here and there.

On the other hand, the piece of fruit being the answer to the riddle seems to be a totally different case. Personally, I didn't even get a chance to sit with the riddle, or go ask to hear it again for some critical thinking time about what was even being said, let alone the meaning of the riddle before Vella asked the Mayor for a hint that was super on the nose (something along the lines of "what's up with the riddle about the pit?") - it was super obvious to me at that point what the solution was because when I had her eat a piece of the fruit earlier, she noted how large the pit was. SO, to me this is an example of a puzzle with hints that were too obvious, but there are people in here saying that they got stuck for 30+ minutes on that -- so puzzle difficulty is clearly very subjective. Also, in this thread someone found it even easier just because they had the fruit in their inventory but never used it up til the point of the riddle. That's interesting because I had Vella eat one, offered another to numerous other characters, and gave one to the lumberjack for his smoothie in an early attempt to get his "art" off the wall. So even when I knew what I needed the fruit for, I had to go back and get a 3rd piece.

The puzzle hint that was way over the top for me was the crochet needle. I just got it, I knew I was going to have to do something with it in the navigation chamber, but before I even got a chance to explore the possibilities I was basically told via, I think, Shay talking to himself the exact thing I was supposed to do.

As a matter of comparison tho, I would way rather it be too easy than require me to use a strategy guide at every step. I loved the comedy of Sam & Max, but I hated how random many of the puzzles were. I would never in a million years have beaten that game without external support. I've frequently gotten stuck on games for hours and never come back to them. the story being told is a huge motivator for me, and experiencing this story was pure pleasure. Can't wait to see what's next given the wonderful cliffhanger / character switch at the end.

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While I did get stuck, it seemed like it was always because I was overestimating the puzzle.

Yes, the only times I got stuck playing the game (which was still only for about 5 minutes) was because I was overestimating how hard a puzzle was or missing something obvious. Which can be a nice counter balance when mixed in with bunch of harder puzzles but not much good when that's all there is.

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I almost felt secondhand embarrasment at the incredibly high amount of bashing clues on your head. I was solving puzzles way before I even discovered them simply because of the absurdly high amount of absurdly obvious clues.

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I thought it was a satisfying, really great first act.

Only one puzzle that didn't make sense, the train puzzle, mostly because I didn't expect that someone could sleep in cue. For me it would have made more sense throwing the spoon in the mountains mouth to close it, maybe if there were a pacifier...

A minor detail, looking forward to the next act! :D

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I voted for "Slightly Difficult - made me think (not hard enough)".

Shays part was too easy in my opinion.

Vellas story got two parts that made me stuck: free Gus and answer the riddle.

The total 5 hours playing time for Act 1 is not bad.

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