A favourite series in recent times is the bike-bashing, angle-manipulating Trials games, in which you command a very simple set of controls to perform complex maneuvers and get a little-biker-who-could over impossibly angled obstacles. It’s adored worldwide — but even many of its die-hard fans might not know of the epic riddles hidden throughout.
Kotaku's Stranger Things series is presented by the new Netflix original: Stranger Things. When a young boy vanishes, a town uncovers a mystery of secret experiments, supernatural forces, and one strange little girl. Watch it only on Netflix from July 15.
Developers are getting increasingly clever at extending the life of their games (and then monetising that longevity), but this was so elaborate it went beyond any content strategy. There was so much effort poured into this for potentially so little reward, it had to be a labour of love. The possibility that it would never even be found was quite high, especially considering it was put into a game that doesn’t fall under the “puzzle” umbrella in the first place.
But find it they did, and it turns out the curiosity of virtual revheads is underestimated. With around 16 clues hidden in the game, ranging from simple numbers to diagrams, a community formed around trying to make sense of it all — and one of their first eurekas was based on every clue being related to scientific concepts in some way.
In some cases, it was easy to determine the significance of the clue. The Fibonacci numbers, for example, are relatively well known and received a fair amount of mainstream attention after The Da Vinci Code featured them prominently.
Image by 克勞棣 - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0
And it probably wouldn’t have taken too long to figure out this drawing was associated with Darwin...
Image by Openculture
Constellations, sheet music, and DNA sequences might have been a little tougher though. Once all 16 were accounted for, what were we left with? Not much. That was about it.
The number “42” was one of the clues, and as Youtube FatShady explains below, this can be seen as the “answer” to a riddle that was really just a vague collection of curiosities. A nod towards humankind’s appetite to know more, and perhaps a bid to inspire more of that activity. I certainly don’t doubt that while on the Google/Wikipedia trail, various people got sucked into serious self-education sessions.
Some would say the Trials HD riddle tricked us all by not actually having a conclusion — that it was good until it fizzled at the end. But that’s kind of missing the point — and I’m not just talking about in a philosophical way, though “to question is the answer” and “the meaning is what we assign to it” are valid takeaways. Through the riddle, you undoubtedly learned something new. I knew a few elements, like the Fibonacci sequence and other bits, but no one survived the process without Dr Google. If only education courses could capture the same sense of mystery to inspire us to learn.
On top of that, there’s something to be said for the camaraderie felt while puzzling something out that can only be done with the combined efforts of a community. Lasting friendships were made during this. Friendships that run deeper than recognising someone’s Gamertag while racing them on a new player-created course.
At the very least, a significant accomplishment of the Trials HD riddle is inspiring the developers and preparing RedLynx fans for the Trials Evolution riddle, which dialled the whole concept to 11. The community has puzzled that one out as much as it can for the time being, before the heirs of four keyholders meet under the Eiffel Tower in the year 21-something to open something up and continue the mystery. Crazy.
Fitting that it was called Trials Evolution, then, since it took the original riddle and evolved it into a far more powerful form.
We’ll likely all be dead by the time that's concluded, unless superintelligent AI sorts out this whole “mortality” business between now and then. But in the meantime, Redlynx gave us a little more than just an Easter egg in a game. This was a true blue scavenger hunt, better designed than most, in a place no one expected it to be. It led to an even bigger one in the subsequent game — and I’ve got no idea how RedLynx will top that.