Weekend Question: What's the most frustrating puzzle you ever got stuck on?

PCG Jody

Staff member
Dec 9, 2019
187
1,108
3,470
I ask the PCG staff a regular Weekend Question and post the answers on the site. If you'd like to throw in an answer here, I'll squeeze the best into the finished article!

This week's question is: What's the most frustrating puzzle you ever got stuck on?

I'm talking about the kind of puzzle where finding out the solution only makes you more mad at how arbitrary it was. Broken Sword had the infamous goat puzzle, Gabriel Knight 3 had the cat hair mustache puzzle. If your adventure game puzzle has an entire Wikipedia page devoted to it, it's probably not for a good reason, yeah? Other obvious contenders include the babel fish in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the water sample in Resident Evil 3, the custard pie in King's Quest 5, the custard toilet in Discworld (don't ask), and everything from our list of the 10 worst and most WTF puzzles in adventure gaming.
 
The Talos Principle, Level A-3, the second star.
It's where you have to press numbered plates on columns which are arranged in a circle. Beat me first time around, and also when I came back to it. Would have beaten me if I'd come back to it 20 times :(

<Spoiler follows>
It turns out you need another real-world physical device to solve it! As in a QR code scanner. Most of the QR codes in the game reveal themselves in a popup on mouseover, so when this one didn't, I assumed it was just a small bug.
 
The Monkey Island series has a bunch of weird puzzles, but the one I remember still is when you have to give bubble gum to a character so his golden tooth gets loose when he chews it and flies out when you pop the bubble gum bubble. Then you have to inhale helium and blow your own bubble with the tooth inside of it so it flies out the window, after which you have to sift through a muddy puddle outside with a pie pan to find the tooth.

I'm pretty sure I've followed a walkthrough for more than half the game for every game in the series.
 
Jan 22, 2020
453
936
2,770
It's not a PC game, but the first thing that comes to mind is the first X-Men game on Sega Megadrive, at the end of the Mojo stage when there's a bomb about to go off and kill you, and your only instructions are to 'reset the computer'. I got up to that stage and watched the clock count down to my death dozens of times without a clue as to what I should be doing, before one day getting so fed up that I reset the console.

Cue screen of computer code and mission complete screen. Screw you X-Men, the sequel was better anyway since it had Nightcrawler and Beast.
 

Zloth

Community Contributor
I liked the babel fish in Hitchhiker's Guide! It was a long puzzle, but it gave you a pretty good hint every time it didn't go right. Fish goes down the drain? Cover it with a towel.

What killed me was just after that point where you got shoved out an airlock, got picked up by another ship that happened to be passing by, and you've got one move to get out of that ship's airlock and into safety. There's an exit to the west. So try that and... nope, you die. Huh? Go through it all again, try to go west again... nope. Go through it all again, get to the spot again, try to do something that might help breath? Like what!? Try something random?? Nope. That continued for a very long time before I tried going south. That worked. The game then tells you it was lying about the exit to the west.

Scrawling some Vogon poetry on Adams' gravestone is at the top of my 'bucket list.'
 
Since all of mine were pretty much covered above, I will add one that stumped me because of a glitch, and that was the rotating stones puzzle in Fate of Atlantis. I don't remember the specifics any more, I just know that the reason I wasn't getting it right was there was something wrong with my version of the game, so that the actual answer was off by 90 degrees or something. I eventually got it by blind luck, and then looked it up and found out that yep, the game version itself was buggy.

I also really hated the bodily organs puzzle in Escape From Monkey Island, but then most of that game was disappointing to me.
 

Sarafan

Community Contributor
Jan 14, 2020
686
1,636
5,270
I won't point a particular title, but I have a general problem with adventure games. The puzzles in this genre are sometimes so hard that it's almost impossible to solve them without a guide or using everything on everything method. My almost every attempt of playing adventure games in the past ended with a necessity to look into the guide. I guess that I don't have patience to these games.

Frequently you can find puzzles in RPGs as well. I prefer when they're limited to side quests, because they have a tendency to be as hard as those from adventure games. To this day I remember Mordus' house puzzle from Divinity Original Sin 2. It was quite frustrating for me to set the appropriate combination of the plates. I decided to check the guide and didn't regret this.
 

Zloth

Community Contributor
I looked up the Mordus quests and still don't remember it! They were talking about it in 2017, so it wasn't added with a later edition. Is it the kind where, when you place an item in a spot, the tiles around it change along with the one you place the item on?
 
Nov 27, 2020
627
1,697
4,270
My feelings on the "point n' click" type of adventure games is pretty much a mirror of @Sarafan , where so many puzzles are just so arbitrary and lacking any clues that they just become frustrating, and slow down any momentum the game might have had, plus I almost always had to consult an outside source for a solution. I haven't played any in years.

I've played Sanitarium, Blade Runner, the Gabriel Knight games; but I couldn't point to a specific puzzle that stumped me (though I know many did). The one that does somehow stick in my mind was the final puzzle in Phatasmagoria Puzzle of the Flesh; some bizarre thing where I had to connect a bunch of colored wires in the right order. The good old days of the FMV adventure game.


To this day I remember Mordus' house puzzle from Divinity Original Sin 2. It was quite frustrating for me to set the appropriate combination of the plates. I decided to check the guide and didn't regret this.
I looked up the Mordus quests and still don't remember it! They were talking about it in 2017, so it wasn't added with a later edition. Is it the kind where, when you place an item in a spot, the tiles around it change along with the one you place the item on?
I remember that one (somewhat) and I had to look up a solution also. @Zloth -I know it was in the later edition of DOS2 (whatever it's called) as that's the only one I played. I'm pretty sure that it was to open a certain door (cellar door maybe?), though I can't remember all the details of how it worked.

Speaking of the DOS games, the one that really just burnt me out was near the end of DOS1 (enhanced edition) in the Source Temple that involved pressure plates and using the Teleporter Pyramids to solve it, as well as to progress further in the game. Long and convoluted, I was just ready to get to the end game by that point, so I looked that solution up also.
 

Zloth

Community Contributor
Oh, I spoke badly. I was thinking it was introduced in the definitive edition, which I never played, which would explain why I don't remember it. People were talking about it days after release, though, so I'm stuck with flat out forgetting.

I'm good with those teleporter puzzles. I had a lot of practice back in Divinity 2. Speaking of, let's see how those YouTube clips work....
 
  • Like
Reactions: mainer and Pifanjr

Frindis

Moderator
100% hands down the cuckoo clock puzzle from Gabriel Knight 2: The Beast Within. While the game is one of the absolute best interactive point-and-click games out there (highly recommend you play it) it got a couple of bad puzzles. Why is the Cuckoo clock puzzle so horrible you ask? Well, because it makes absolutely no f.ing sense:

Edit: In case some of you want to play the game, I'll leave this puzzle with an embedded spoiler, though to be honest, I'm sure most of you would have applauded me for helping you on this one:p
Firstly, you have to roam around a city, then randomly find out you can buy a cuckoo clock because of course, you would need it for something. Then you have to know that you need to use this cuckoo clock to distract a person. Then you have to know that the way to distract this person, is to place the cuckoo clock in some bloody plant in the next room. Then you have to wait for the cuckoo clock to ding and that will make the person believe there is a knock on the door and eventually leave. I mean, wtf!
Keep in mind, they choose to put this puzzle in a mature detective game with a superb story, wickedly good characters, and tons of lore you can indulge in. It's like some senior in Sierra said: "Guys, we need to have a cuckoo clock! How fun would not that be!:) It fits the lore guys!"

 
Last edited:
Sep 21, 2020
70
412
1,770
There is a puzzle in Syberia 2, It is a 4 digit code that i could not find any clue to what it could possibly be. I did look for a while as well, but i said screw it and looked up the code in a guide. I was not about to try 10k combinations.


there had to be a clue, but even the guides couldn't seam to give me any hints outside of the code.
 
Definitely in The Witness. The first section I chose to play wasn't too hard to figure out. I was lucky that I happened to choose that section. But then after that, it was so hard that I just gave up.
 
Nov 26, 2021
104
275
470
I'm a bit late I realise, but the Jindosh Riddle in Dishonoured 2 can do one. The premise is thus: there is a 'shortcut' to proceed to the next level if you key in the correct combination (names to figures). The problem is that one, it's randomly decided on each playthrough for each player so looking up a walkthrough isn't that helpful. Two, it's a lateral thinking puzzle, but it's such a pain. Never in all my playthroughs have I cracked the code without assistance.

I've had nightmares looking at this image, so you must too:
 

ASK THE COMMUNITY

TRENDING THREADS

Latest posts