Types of Puzzles in a Point & Click Adventure


With only nine days left to finish writing the puzzles for my Bible-teaching Point & Click game, I’m really starting to get down to the nitty gritty details now. It’s fair to say that there are a number of “levels” on which puzzles operate; you have your high-level goal: get a job with a wealthy aristocrat; then you have various objectives to help get you there: the three job requirements that potential candidates must fulfil to be considered for the role; there’s then another level: “the job advert says I need experience working with animals – well what animals are there that I could gain some experience with?”. Once you know roughly what you’re trying to do, there’ll probably be a few obstructions preventing you from achieving your objective: the local mafia abusing their powers, a particularly deep-sleeping citizen taking up all the space in the picnic area, that kind of thing. Overcoming these low-level obstacles is really the meat and potatoes of a good adventure game, and it’s here where the truly great ones really stand out above the rest.

Tim Schafer, the mind behind Day of the Tentacle and Grim Fandango, has a very distinctive style to his puzzles that really appeals to me. There are a number of puzzles that are based around the idea of some kind of logical “system”: there’s a particular scenario, and through a bit of trial and error the player gradually figures out how it functions, until they understand it well enough to tweak the system to their advantage and solve the puzzle. One example from “Day of the Tentacle” can be seen in the screenshot above: pulling the bell cord summons George Washington’s maid, who happens to have a bar of soap on her little trolley outside the door. The only problem is that she’s too quick to perform her duties and she’s done before you have a chance to take it. The puzzle is to figure out a way of slowing her down. Another example involves you trying to chase down some chattering teeth, who keep managing to outrun you until you find a way to stop them in their tracks.

Devising these little scenarios is great fun, but also a lot of work! It’s made ten times harder by my commitment to not using solutions which involve theft or other slightly shifty means (you wouldn’t be able to steal the soap in the above example, for instance!) but there’s always a way if you search hard enough.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *