A thoughtful and personal exploration of games

Face, Meet Brick Walls – Puzzle Games

I’m a fan of interesting puzzle games. Look up SpaceChem, A Virus Named TOM, and Hacker Evolution on Steam and you’ll see the kinds of puzzle games that really attract my attention. I like simple games, but I have a problem with puzzle games in general…

You see, after a fashion, I can’t figure the puzzles out.

I swear, that admission feels like a weight off my chest. It’s almost embarrassing though. There’s a point where no amount of staring or fiddling around will help me figure out how to solve the puzzle in front of me and it happens in every puzzle game at differing points. The only constant is that I do hit a brick wall labeled “can’t solve this one without help”.

That’s why I’m thankful for walkthrough sites and guide videos. In fact, SpaceChem got so complex that I had to write directions down to save on alt-tabbing between the game and the YouTube video I was using as a guide. Eventually I made my own SpaceChem video, but it was based on another solution video. I still haven’t beaten that game, but it was so fun to play.

Recently the puzzle game A Virus Named TOM came out and I snapped it up. It’s interesting, it’s engaging, and it’s fun. Also, awesome soundtrack. Admittedly, I hit a wall pretty early, but they allowed for that to a small extent with level skip tokens. I’m in the last series of puzzles only thanks to mostly skipping the previous stage. I was empowered by these skip tokens. I skipped by the trouble puzzles and hit the ones I could definitely do, going back when I felt like it and eventually figuring them out with either my own skills or with internet voodoo help.

I’m a pretty straight-forward gamer. If the problem is in front of me, I look for the most direct solution to getting past it. Most games allow for that. MMOs are typically “direct approach” games with the option to occasionally sneak around problems but there’s a lot of variance in the direct approaches based on your class and personal play-style. Deux Ex: Human Revolution encourages a stealth approach to the game, but you can take the head-on approach if you’re feeling particularly daring. Again, lots of variance in both primary approaches thanks to timing, luck, and skill. Puzzle games though, there’s typically one or two solutions at best for a given puzzle. The trick is thinking in the language of the puzzle, interpreting the twists and turns that have come before to help you through the next few twists and turns. I suck at languages though.

I love puzzle games but they smack me in the face sometimes with how generally inept I can be.

Yesterday I played a little A Virus Named TOM, hit a brick wall with my face, and then jumped into Star Wars: The Old Republic and REVELED in the simplicity of just shooting enemies with my Commando. It was so good.

Until next time!

– Elorfin

P.S. “Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after another.” – Walter Elliott

P.P.S. Oh, I throw Tower-Defense games in with puzzle games. The strategy itself combined with the timing required makes it a puzzle game of the highest order. Seriously, I got whipped by Defense Grid and System Protocol One.

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