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Discussion Point: What kind of game deserves a high score in Puzzles and Solvability?

By The TAG Team

It’s certainly easier to make a bad than a good adventure game, and therefore it is no wonder that we’ve seen a lot more examples of the former than the latter. Indeed, our reviewers feel that they have no problem deciding when a game deserves a low score in some category. On the other hand, since we have less examples of good games, it is more difficult to say when a game deserves 9 or even 10 in some category. Thus, we’ve decided to do a series of six discussion points, each dealing with a simple question: what would a game have to be like to deserve a high score in this particular category?
Puzzles and Solvability

We begin with Puzzles and Solvability. Puzzles are clearly the most distinguishing part of adventure games. What games have excellent puzzle designs? And more to the point, what makes puzzles in these games so satisfying?

This is NOT what we are looking for

Other questions you might consider:

  • Should it be possible that a game with only a few puzzles or even none at all could get a high score in this category? In other words, is a visual novel always destined to have a low puzzle score?
  • One factor to consider in this category is solvability. Which is worse: a game with only easy puzzles or a game with too tough puzzles?
  • What are we to consider as puzzles, when scoring this category? Inventory-based puzzles are a clear instance, but we’ve sometimes considered also story-based puzzles, such as problems determining the guilty party in murder mystery games. And what about Myst-like puzzles, secret codes etc.?
  • In addition to individual puzzles, we might also consider puzzle dependencies, in which solving one puzzle requires first solving another puzzle. Should we prefer games with complex chains of puzzle dependence?
  • Perhaps in judging this category we should also take into consideration how the puzzles relate to other categories, especially the story. Is it important that puzzles make sense within the narrative of the game?
Let the discussion begin!

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