Are the ridiculous, wild goose chase puzzles of classic adventure games obsolete? Michael Abbott at the Brainy Gamer grudgingly says they may be — “A revealing slap in the face awaits the – shall we say “veteran” – gamer who hands an old adventure game to a young gamer with a hearty recommendation and an assurance of blissful gaming in store”. The response is likely to be ‘Is this supposed to be fun?’ Now, I know plenty of people who still remember fondly games like Monkey Island and other classic adventure games, including their oftentimes bizarre and lengthy puzzles, but:
Despite my fondness for the adventure games of yore, it appears the days of puzzles in narrative games have come and gone. Puzzles – especially the serial unlocking variety found in the old LucasArts games – seem to have become a relic of a bygone era. Where they once provided a necessary ludic element to a clever and often complex narrative – designed to add challenge and force the player to earn his progress through the story – few modern players have the patience for such challenges anymore ….
Combat has replaced puzzles as the progress-impeding mechanic du jour for modern gamers, and fast-paced action, quick reflexes, and gamepad dexterity are the premium skills. To be sure, games like SOCOM and Call of Duty also require strategic thinking, and online multiplayer often requires fine tactical thinking and cooperation. But puzzles – the kind you study for awhile, scratch your head about, and maybe even mull over in your sleep – have largely disappeared from narrative games.
Is there a place for puzzles of the old school stripe in current games? Abbott suggests considering the purpose of such puzzles in narrative-driven games while re-thinking their implementation; it’s a difficult puzzle, to be sure, but one whose dividends could pay off in future gameplay.
Puzzles are for geezers [Brainy Gamer]