Posted on April 26, 2012, Phil Hornshaw 5 Crazy Difficult and Intricate Video Game Puzzles
This month, Polytron’s 2D-3D indie puzzler Fez stormed the scene with its blending of genres and its mind-twisting puzzles. In celebration of brain teasers and code breakers, we’ve looked back into years of gaming and snagged five particularly grueling, interesting, intense and intricate puzzles from the vault — as well as their solutions.
Read on to learn about some of the most confusing, intense and memorable mental challenges video games have ever presented.
The Wretched Goat
Game: Broken Sword
Insanity Level: Frustrating
Back when Broken Sword was first released for the Playstation and PC, tons of players were confounded by a single puzzle that doesn’t appear until hours into the game. It’s not even a particularly hard puzzle, but what makes it difficult is that it’s a complete change of mental gears from the rest of the title. Where Broken Sword, through the course of the whole game, is a methodical point-and-click adventure that requires brains and planning to solve its puzzles, the goat puzzle requires fast reflexes and something more akin to traditional video game mechanics.
The goat foiled plenty of players: tied to a chain, it would knock the player character down if he tried to either interact with a piece of machinery or pass the goat to move on to another area. The solution was to get hit by the goat, then quickly click the machinery, triggering the player character to run and move it. Trouble was, up to that point, the character had never run and there had never been a puzzle that required exact timing, and plenty of players never drew the connection of how to beat it.
The Broken Goddamn Piano
Game: Silent Hill
Insanity Level: Bedeviling
Despite studying English and literature throughout my time at school, I’ve never been one for poetry. There’s just something about it — my brain hates it. I suspect this is the case for a great many people, because so many have professed to having an incredibly difficult time deciphering a passage of poetry used in the original Silent Hill to solve a puzzle involving a busted piano. Deciphering the poem is meant to show you which keys to press in sequence, and there’s some discussion of black and white birds and colors and whatever. Figuring out the key combination is an involved affair and the poem doesn’t really help out so much.
Things are made even worse by the fact that Silent Hill’s puzzles have a difficulty setting that’s independent of the rest of the game’s difficulty, and the higher you set it, the more clouded and obtuse the poem becomes, pushing you even harder. This is why fan-written FAQs were indispensable in the late 1990s. Just such a guide is here.