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GateKeeperphileday

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Character Powers as puzzle mechanics

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Joined 2018-01-11

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So having just beat QFG4 finally, and starting Anachronox, I’ve noticed that I really like these games that use character specific powers as solutions to puzzles.  Another good example I can think of is The Unavowed.

So I wanted to discuss with you guys if you like this kind of puzzle mechanic as well, or do you prefer inventory and logic puzzles?  How do you feel about a mix of puzzle styles?

I find that it helps me feel immersed in the character because I’m using the character’s skills instead of an item to solve problems around me.

One thing I was thinking was how in QFG series, especially the later games, A friend couldn’t just walk up and help me with puzzles because I have a very long list of spells to consider on a wizard play-through, and I just kind of remember what powers are within my character’s repertoire.  Whereas if I played as a fighter or thief, I think a friend could look on, and suggest to climb, use rope, throw stuff, pick locks, etc.

And most of these games that require character powers often have multiple solutions to puzzles which I find particularly satisfying because I don’t feel as limited in my approach to problem solving.

However in games like Anachronox, although there are multiple solutions to many puzzles, often the games forces you to recruit a character with a specific power to advance, so you can’t be stuck without the solution to the puzzle.

To contrast with other games I’ve recently played; Thimbleweed Park. In Thimbleweed park, the ghost character does in fact have some powers that are different from the other characters.  But because it only comes up once or twice in the whole game, it didn’t feel like an intuitive puzzle to me.  Typically, puzzles are solved with inventory exclusively in TP, so the character power solution is just out of place and weird.  I did actually enjoy it once I figured it out, but I wish that mechanic had come up more often throughout.

So do you guys have any favorite examples of Character’s powers as puzzle mechanics and solutions?

If I tend to enjoy these types of puzzles, then what would recommend in addition to the games I’ve mentioned?

     
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I liked The Dark Eye games, The Chains of Satinav and Memoria. There’s no class to pick or multiple solutions to puzzles, but the puzzles are fun and do help the immersion. These games are a good example how spells can be utilized in traditional point & click adventures.

     

Currently playing: Requiescence, Divinity II
Recently finished: The Silent Age, Overland, Before We Leave, Demonheart, SoulSet, Quantum Consciense, Amnesia: Memories
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Joined 2012-01-02

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I enjoy these mechanics as well. Have you played Deck13 Haunted?
You get as you move along thru the game obtain different companions to travel with thru the journey, and each has a new specific power or attribute you can use to solve the puzzles you encounter. highly recommended if you haven’t already played.

     
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Thanks for the recommendations;  Are there similar games you would compare them to?

In Haunted Deck 13, were you able to try the “coop ghost team play?”  I’m very curious what that is.

Also, holy jones, this chains of satinav game looks awesome!  I love anything that makes me feel like a cool magic spell caster type. I loved using the spells in KQ3, or the unavowed.

And then there’s rincewind.  *sigh*

     
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I think Bureau 13 had a similar setup where you have a number of characters each with special powers or skills. It’s a fully-fledged adventure game from what I remember. Also maybe Bloodnet, which had RPGish elements and some turn-based combat if you don’t mind those.

     

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Congrats on finishing Quest for Glory. I love how those games are designed, allowing to use powers not just to confront enemies, but to solve puzzles as well. I remember how satisfying it was - recalling a proper skill/spell after being stuck on a puzzle for a while.

Same with Heroine’s Quest - well, obviously inspired by QfG, probably the closest game to the series, and there is no excuse not to play it since it’s free. There were other adventure-friendly RPG titles like the recent Disco Elysium, Arcanum or Bloodlines which are all about developing and using various skills to solve quests.

And Gobliiins if we are talking about adventure/puzzle games, although it was pretty much a parody on RPG archetypes. Death Gate, Zork: Grand Inquisitor, Loom and Woodruff, of course, all used spells in very inventive ways. Beautifully designed games, even without multiple solutions.

     

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Some of the Star Trek adventure games use the same party-based multiple-solution format as Unavowed - A Final Unity, Judgment Rites and 25th Anniversary. You get to pick your team for each mission and each character has different “powers”. Might be worth checking out if you aren’t a filthy Star Wars fan. Smile

Also, Where Time Stood Still from 1987. This one you might have trouble finding.

     
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Max’s time rewind ability from Life Is Strange comes to mind. Also, Max’s Psychic abilities from Sam & Max: The Devil’s Playhouse (Now I wish I had a third example of a character named Max with powers for the hat trick).

Both are fun in their own right. Max’s (Sam and Max) powers are used for very creative puzzle solutions but even incorrect usages usually result in a gag of some kind. So it adds to the comedy. Similarly, Max’s (Life Is Strange) powers also help game-play and narrative. You use your rewind for various puzzles and to see the different immediate outcomes of your choices, but it also ties into Max’s (Life Is Strange) character arc. The rewind powers are like a supernatural manifestation of her introversion and regret. Playing into how she dwells on past mistakes, lacking the confidence to forgive herself and move on (At least at the start of the game).

As far as how I like the approach of a character’s powers overall? I like grounded stories too but even if it’s not a “power,” per se, it still helps for a protagonist to have some unique abilities or attributes. Like how Harper Pendrell from Unforeseen Incidents is a handyman, so a lot of his solutions are from tinkering and his default inventory item is an multi-tool. Or how the core puzzle mechanic of Heaven’s Vault is built around Aliya’s archaeological abilities. 

For my taste there’s no one approach that’s de facto superior. One of the most appealing things about the adventure genre is that narrative leads gameplay. So whatever puzzle variety best supports the story should be used.

     
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In whispers of the machine the special abilities as a result of “taking the Blue,” a slang term for being injected with a nebulous nanofluid that confers abilities like enhanced strength and a “forensic scanner” that can detect and analyze clues provide powers that in the game are required to solve many puzzles.

For many, this made the difference from this game being just another murder mystery and the great game it was.

Heart

     

I enjoy playing adventure games on handheld systems- PS VITA, Nintendo DS and ipad mini.

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Joined 2018-01-11

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I’m going to try to respond to a lot at once.

DOOM:  I didn’t know heroine’s quest is FREE:?!?!  I downloaded it immediately.  For some reason I knew about that game, but I remembered it being a cheap, not free.  Thanks so much!

Vehelon:  I am in fact a Trek fan.  The only one that I refuse to watch is DS9 and it’s because ODO is so unsettling that he makes my stomach hurt when he’s on screen.  Yucky.  I have some of these Trek games on a hard drive somewhere, but someone said some bad things about one of the console ports, and so I just never played them.  I bet the PC versions are pretty good.  There’s just not a ton of great Trek games really (except STO maybe). Now that I know I’m going to be able to use character powers though, I’m excited to start with judgement rites or 25th.

PlanetX:  I really love the dialogue tree puzzles that LIS presents.  Solving them is kind of tense, but still super satisfying when you say the right things, and choose the outcome.  But some of the other puzzles seriously grind my gears how she is expected to rewind time for every minor inconvenience.  That rooftop scene is just prime dialogue tree puzzle though.  Holy smoke it’s good!  I’ve wanted to use this rewind conversation mechanic in a tabletop game… hm.

Mikekelly:  I understand very little of anything you said without the context of the game, but it sounods very philip k dick, so I’m pretty much already sold.  Is this like a modern game or retro or…?

 

     
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Celebreon - 04 April 2020 03:01 PM

Vehelon:  I am in fact a Trek fan.  The only one that I refuse to watch is DS9 and it’s because ODO is so unsettling that he makes my stomach hurt when he’s on screen.  Yucky.  I have some of these Trek games on a hard drive somewhere, but someone said some bad things about one of the console ports, and so I just never played them.  I bet the PC versions are pretty good.

None of the Star Trek adventure games has a console port, unless you do it yourself with some third party software.

And overall most Star Trek games are quite good, at least not particularly bad, so there’s no reason to avoid them if you like Star Trek. There are also some good FMV adventures like Star Trek: Klingon and Star Trek: Borg.

About the character power question: I think those kind of things are interesting, but don’t work that well in adventure games. The problem is, of course, that if you have some character powers, the game is no longer a real adventure. That’s more a problem from a purist perspective than a real problem, but adding stuff like that makes a game something else than an adventure game at some point.
We all love Deus Ex, but is it an adventure…?

     
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Mikekelly:  I understand very little of anything you said without the context of the game, but it sounods very philip k dick, so I’m pretty much already sold.  Is this like a modern game or retro or…?

I would say it’s a modern game, the graphics are just barely to modern standards. However, there are those who would call it retro.

Some have called Whispers of a Machine a Sci-Fi Nordic Noir - I have to agree with that description.

Heart

     

I enjoy playing adventure games on handheld systems- PS VITA, Nintendo DS and ipad mini.

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Joined 2018-01-11

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GateKeeper - 05 April 2020 08:05 AM
Celebreon - 04 April 2020 03:01 PM

Vehelon:  I am in fact a Trek fan.  The only one that I refuse to watch is DS9 and it’s because ODO is so unsettling that he makes my stomach hurt when he’s on screen.  Yucky.  I have some of these Trek games on a hard drive somewhere, but someone said some bad things about one of the console ports, and so I just never played them.  I bet the PC versions are pretty good.

None of the Star Trek adventure games has a console port, unless you do it yourself with some third party software.

And overall most Star Trek games are quite good, at least not particularly bad, so there’s no reason to avoid them if you like Star Trek. There are also some good FMV adventures like Star Trek: Klingon and Star Trek: Borg.

About the character power question: I think those kind of things are interesting, but don’t work that well in adventure games. The problem is, of course, that if you have some character powers, the game is no longer a real adventure. That’s more a problem from a purist perspective than a real problem, but adding stuff like that makes a game something else than an adventure game at some point.
We all love Deus Ex, but is it an adventure…?

I was told 25th anniversary was on NES, and that it was awful, so I just assumed 25th on PC was equally bad. 

And yeah.  I mean Deus Ex/System Shock 1.  I think they are at least hybrid adventure RPG’s.  But I would say those are far more RPG obviously than adventure.  When I say that an Adventure has character powers, typically you can’t choose them, but sometimes you can, and the “use” of such powers is basically identical to the use of an inventory object, except you don’t have to spend a bunch of time hunting for the mcguffin.

But I don’t know really.  I barely just graduated from Adventurer Correspondence School.

     
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Celebreon - 05 April 2020 04:23 PM
GateKeeper - 05 April 2020 08:05 AM

None of the Star Trek adventure games has a console port, unless you do it yourself with some third party software.

I was told 25th anniversary was on NES, and that it was awful, so I just assumed 25th on PC was equally bad.

25th Anniversary on NES is a completely different game than the adventure games made by Interplay. The only thing they have in common is the name, which is confusingly exactly the same.

It’s the same situation as with Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, there are two games with the same title! And if you are browsing NES catalogue, none of them is the more famous adventure game.

     
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On the simplest level I think the Blackwell games achieved alternative means of puzzle-solving via ghost Joey being able to glean info by passing through walls & later on affecting situations by being able to blow.

     
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Ron Gilbert has a history of this, from Maniac Mansion to The Cave. Choose specific characters from the pool and use their specific abilities to solve the puzzles before you.

     

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