There’s nothing more satisfying than being able to breeze through a puzzle and come out without so much a throbbing vein to weigh you down. Of course, video games make a habit of holding our hands the majority of the time, with riddles often accompanied by enough clues to have us gradually fall into the right place at the right time. But then, frustratingly, there are the others. You know, the puzzles that throw you in at the deep end without so much as a paddle to keep you afloat? Yep — those puzzles.
It’s true, the last thing we want to do is resort to guides and discussions to carry us over the hump. It tends to spoil the immersion, sort of like reading the ending to a book before even glossing over the pending chapters. But then, shamefully, we’ve found ourselves doing exactly that — just when the puzzle begins to escalate our frustration and scold our brains. We hate it — and yet we do it anyway. But we’ve all been there, and, should you have played these following five entries — then you’ve more than likely already familiarized yourself with Reddit and other entwining knowledge banks.
5. Shakespeare’s Stanzas (Silent Hill 3)
I don’t know about you, but I personally don’t see the connection between revolver-wielding nurses and the many stanzas of Shakespeare. Team Silent, on the other hand, well — clearly they see a bigger picture that the rest of us simply fail to comprehend. Unfortunately for us players, however, in order to crack Silent Hill 3 on the hardest difficulty, one must first understand Shakespeare, as well as the terminology embedded in his many works. Master that, of course, and you’ll walk away with a complete picture and, sure enough — a much sharper mind.
Silent Hill has been known for developing absurd puzzles over the course of its survival horror timeline. Through ridiculous riddles and passages, the series tends to receive serious backlogs of players, all hungering for an explanation to the endless slew of unanswerable questions. But, above all, the Shakespeare poetry that features in the third instalment truly does just take the cake entirely. To fill the blanks and crack the code, you basically have to study the literature, mainly King Lear, a play that was published back in 1606. And yes — we are serious.
4. The Water Temple (The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time)
Ask any Ocarina of Time fan which part of the game they dislike the most and they’ll more than likely tell you the water temple. And for good reason too. Not only is it one of the longest segments of the game — but also one of the most painstakingly bitter portions that fails to spur a single positive emotion. Thanks to the endless waves of puzzles and being bombarded with hidden rooms and chambers, the infamous water temple practically forces many players to retire from its shallow grave altogether. And that’s not good, considering the game’s overall quality is absolutely extraordinary.
Before sinking into the third temple (sixth, if you take into account Link’s younger endeavours), the journey is a relatively smooth ride. Bosses aren’t overly difficult, the mini-games are both fun and engaging, and the overall plotline is jam-packed full of memorable content. However, after entering the water temple, you’re left to embrace the new pitch of the story which, after completing, settles into a much, much darker tone. That is, of course, if you can ever beat it. Chances are, like many — you never resurfaced after putting on those iron boots at all.
3. The Rubber Duck (The Longest Journey)
The last thing you’d probably expect to run into with a rubber duck is trouble. And yet, here we are, still wondering how on earth it bested us at all in The Longest Journey. Yet, despite the concept being almost laughable, the process of both acquiring said duck and using it to trap a key beneath a subway rail turned out to be anything but amusing. In fact, the entire process leading up to the subway key just sort of made little to no sense whatsoever, with little to no logic behind any of the devised strategies.
The point-and-click adventure encased within The Longest Journey had us traversing Arcadia in a desperate attempt to restore the so-called balance to the magic-dominated metropolis. Along the way, however, we had to wrap our heads around mounds of puzzles just to help nudge ourselves a little closer to the climax. And one of those, unfortunately, involved a blue rubber duck…and a whole lot of frustration. But why, you’re probably asking yourself? Well, that’s a question for the ages, to be honest.
2. Volskygge (Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim)
Statistically, the puzzle featured in Skyrim’s Nordic Tomb Volskygge has had the most players resort to guides in order to complete it. Next to the likes of Ocarina of Time and the dreaded water temple, Volskygge has garnered a reputation for being one of the toughest riddles in video game history, with a rough ninety percent of players cheating in order to bypass it. So, not quite what Bethesda had in mind when going above and beyond to design a genuinely thought-provoking puzzle, no doubt.
At first, four totems sitting idly by with a passage to decipher doesn’t exactly strike you as being overly harsh. And yet, the passage that pours out like nails to a chalkboard turns out to be, if anything, slightly daunting. Although only four lines in length, Volskygge’s puzzle still ends up being one of the biggest brain teasers in all of Skyrim. And that’s saying something, seeing as there are some pretty unforgiving puzzles dotted around its vast network of cities and underground portals.
1. Babel Fish (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy)
If you thought studying Shakespeare’s stanzas was slightly over the top — then wait ’til you get a load of the notorious Babel Fish, known from the text adventure iteration of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Fish, ducks, water temples — there’s definitely a pattern emerging here, isn’t there? And yet, we wonder why the majority of the gaming population tends to steer clear of anything that involves liquid or gills. Well, there you go. It’s the puzzles, I’m telling you.
Like Silent Hill 3, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy relies on your general knowledge more so than intuition and pot luck. The problem, however, is that the majority of players tend to waltz into the text adventure with little to no context behind the Babel Fish, or even so much as an inkling to aid the progression of the absurd story. And so, you’re pretty much left to follow a short tale surrounding a vending machine, a fish and a bathrobe, type in a thread of commands — and hope you’ll somehow capture the slithery so and so and progress with the journey. But then, the actual chance of you obtaining it is incredibly slim. Almost non-existent, to be honest.
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