Adventure Gamers - Forums
Best and worst *final* puzzles?
I just remembered another one. Sort of.
In The Detective Game you have to arrest the bad guy in the end. The way to do that is a bit anticlimatic: you have a couple of seconds to use a gun on that guy, assuming you have picked up the gun earlier.
But the best(?) part is that if you didn’t swap real bullets for planks earlier elsewhere then the bad guy is going to shoot you first.
So if you have played for hours and reach the end, you can still fail the game in three ways in the very last moment. And two of those are consequences of something that you did or didn’t do before, and one is failing to react superfast. Note: you don’t need to react superfast earlier in the game, so the game mechanics changes in the very last puzzle.
As the game was released in 1986, I suppose most of that can be seen as having been a good puzzle design back then. Without any save game options in Commodore 64, I wonder how many players threw their joysticks at their televisions at that last point…
Regardless of all that, The Detective Game was ahead of its time. It had point-and-click GUI icons (not a LucasFilm-style verb list) and somewhat independent NPCs in 1986, so there’s that!
The problem with puzzles is that it’s pretty hard to make them feel climatic. They aren’t, by nature similar to end boss fights you can ramp up in order to make them feel more epic. That’s why most adventures just kind of fizzle out instead of end with an epic puzzle. Or go with an epic cinematic instead of a puzzle.
That said, one of the worst endgame sequences I’ve played is in an old adventure game Future Wars. It ends with a timed maze you have to first run to the end and then again to the middle point in order to escape. The kicker is, you’ll only find out through trial and error if you have enough time to go back to the middle point after you’ve completed the first part, as the timer doesn’t reset at any point.
You make an interesting point, but solving puzzles in Phoenix Wright does become increasingly more satisfying as you reach the climax of the story.