Puzzling Over Adventure Game Puzzles

Illustration for article titled Puzzling Over Adventure Game Puzzles

There's a really nice (lengthy) article over at Adventure Classic Gaming that takes a look at puzzles in (as you can probably guess) adventure games, and how those forms have seeped into other genres.

The in-depth look at a variety of puzzle forms moves from the premise that puzzles are so integral to adventure games, bad ones can easily ruin a game:

Adventure games are different—in that the core features of gameplay cannot be effectively evaluated without actually playing it or giving so many details away as to detract from the experience of playing the game. In many respects, the quality of an adventure game depends upon the quality of its puzzles, whether they are ingenious and rewarding or just frustratingly illogical. Having been told an explanation to how a puzzle works means you will never be able to play it as intended, since a big part of the experience is the enjoyment of figuring it out for yourself. You can evaluate the art, voice acting, and even the story or humor present in an adventure game to a certain extent without diving too deep into it, but an adventure game with terrible puzzles can make all those other elements irrelevant, since you likely will never have the patience to finish the game in the first place.

In this article, I will be taking a closer look at the various types of adventure game puzzles, how they relate to the gameplay, and even how some of these basic forms relate to other game genres.


From two basic classifications ('self-contained' and 'key'), a wide variety of puzzle types appear; the analysis is interesting and the article is worth plowing through if you're interested in the nitty gritty of game design.

Adventure game puzzles: unlocking the secrets of puzzle design [Adventure Classic Gaming via GameSetWatch]

Share This Story

Get our newsletter


Funk McSnuff

I've always hated the puzzles in old Sierra Adventure games, because they rarely made any sense at all. I think it was Space Quest 6 that had a puzzle where you should fix a computer, and if you fucked up you got electrocuted.

Also, what in the hell were they thinking when they made Freddy Pharkas: Frontier Pharmacist? The game actually freezes if you open up the door to an outhouse where you'll find Larry from the Leisure Suit Larry-games, and that's it. The game stops and you can't do shit about it, so you have to load your last save game. All you needed was for the game to include an actual virus and you'd have a full-blown retard salad.

LucasArts on the other hand, back when they were freakin' l33t, made some awesome adventure games. You couldn't do anything wrong (except in The Secret of Monkey Island of course) and the puzzles were fairly logical - except from the one in The Dig which I mentioned in a post above.