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The Greatest Point-and-Click PUZZLES of All Time
Posted: 17 March 2012 06:10 PM
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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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Posted: 17 March 2012 07:03 PM
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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! wink

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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Posted: 17 March 2012 07:50 PM
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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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Posted: 17 March 2012 08:11 PM
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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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Posted: 18 March 2012 03:43 AM
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Some responses are here http://www.doublefine.com/forums/viewthread/5673/

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Posted: 18 March 2012 07:13 AM
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Ignoramus - 17 March 2012 07:03 PM

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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Posted: 18 March 2012 10:52 AM
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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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Posted: 18 March 2012 02:13 PM
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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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Posted: 18 March 2012 03:35 PM
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Ignoramus - 17 March 2012 07:03 PM

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

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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Posted: 18 March 2012 04:39 PM
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Bernie Nips - 18 March 2012 03:35 PM

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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Posted: 19 March 2012 03:38 PM
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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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Posted: 19 March 2012 06:23 PM
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DOTT - send wine forward through time to make vinegar.

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Posted: 19 March 2012 10:54 PM
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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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Posted: 20 March 2012 12:55 AM
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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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Posted: 20 March 2012 02:36 AM
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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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Posted: 20 March 2012 03:45 AM
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Monkey Mania - 19 March 2012 06:23 PM

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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