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5 Worst Puzzle Games of All Time

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Games should ideally give you a dopamine rush when you ace a win. However, some games are designed with such complexity that they give you more headaches than happiness. Apart from the intense complexity, other puzzles are either poorly designed, too difficult, or don't make sense. Here are some of the worst puzzle games of all time. 


5. The Talos Principle

Talos Principle - Launch Trailer

Croteam developed The Talos Principle in 2014 for Linux, Nintendo Switch, iOS, Windows, PlayStation, and Xbox. Let me tell you, it doesn't matter where you play it from; it will mess up your mind. The game is philosophical and based on ancient Greek principles.  The game opens with an android in a calm environment, summoned on a mission by an unseen body. The unnamed character is an android with a human-like consciousness. 

To complete the mission, the character must solve at least 120 puzzles and Sigil Riddles within the game. Each puzzle is more complex than the one before it. As the complexity of each puzzle and riddle increases, you might end up dreading solving them. Gamers often find it rather puzzling and give up at some point. For many people who stumble upon the game, it is practically impossible to play it without a guide. If you are looking for a fun game with manageable puzzles to play on a long day when you get home from work, this is not the one.


4. Cat Hair Mustache Puzzle

Gabriel Knight 3: Cat Hair Moustache Puzzle

The puzzle is so tough that it got its own Wikipedia page. The puzzle is smack in the middle of the 1999 game, Gabriel Knight 3: Blood of the Sacred, Blood of the Damned. It requires the player to set up an elaborate cat disguise for the hero so that they can steal a motorcycle. Initially, Jane Jensen designed the puzzle, but they had to cut the project short due to financial constraints. The game's developer, Steven Hill, took over to complete it. Whether it was due to the creative differences, the time constraints, or the financial constraints, the designers left the puzzle in the game. People hated it, and it has been called the worst puzzle in adventure games.

The puzzle is, to date, called obscure and illogical, basically difficult to solve without a guide, and infamous. The part where players have to use adhesive strips and fur to create a fake mustache is downright obtuse, considering the person they were impersonating did not have a mustache. Even though Jen Jensen took some blame for the game's decline, it did not undo the damage done to the game's popularity. The aspect of time cannot be used as an excuse, seeing that the 90s were a pinnacle for good games. Thomas Grip, the co-founder of Frictional Games, called the game a shining example of what game designers should aim to avoid. 


3. King's Quest

King's Quest 2015 - Reveal Trailer

Game developers Sierra Entertainment have carved a name for themselves in the industry as puzzle game kings. First released in 1980, it got updates in graphics and gameplay up until 2016. Even with a known history of difficult puzzles, they might have taken things a step too far with the King's Quest Series with the Gnome name. 

Like in fairy tales, the player has to say the gnome's name backward. However, this was not as simple as it seemed, and a twist made things a muck of your mind. In a fictional land where logic is thrown out the window, the alphabet does not go A-Z; it goes Z-A. Without this knowledge, you are left contending which one between your mind or the game is broken. In the end, after racking your brain to its last cell, you are expected to come up with ‘ifnknovhgroghprm.' Good luck cooking that up without a guide.


2. The Longest Journey’s The Rubber Duck

The Longest Journey Trailer

The year is 1990. You have just booted your computer, and you are transported into the “futuristic” world of Arcadia in the Longest Journey game. The lead character, April, is an 18-year-old who is a shifter and can travel to two worlds. Some sort of border separates the two realms, and April has to save both worlds from annihilation as it grows thinner. 

To complete this mission, she has to overcome obstacles and puzzles, and one of them is the infamous rubber duck puzzle. Then April comes across the rubber duck stuck in the subway. The duck is too shiny to ignore, and April wants to save it. The process of saving this duck is where they get you. The steps to saving the duck include a seagull, a clothespin, and a clamp. The intricacies of this game are so random that 32 years later, it is still one of the most mind puzzling puzzles in the gaming scene.


1. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy's Babel Fish Vending Machine

Babel Fish Puzzle: Hitchhiker's - Most Annoying Puzzle - Infocom 1984

If you read the “Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy,” you understand the kind of twisted humor it comes with. Unsurprisingly, the video game version is full of it as well. However, the difficulty level in the puzzles guides the gamer into a fury fest faster than they can imagine. Because the game is based on intergalactic travel, the player needs a Babel Fish stuck in their ear to translate the languages. Getting this Babel fish is where your brain gets the overload.

The Babel Fish comes out of a vending machine, but it does not come out fast by hitting a button. The machine often dispenses fish, and you must find a way to distract the cleaning robots from accessing the machine and getting your Babel Fish. The difficulty level on this bit is almost alien, and gamers have given up entirely and have gone on to find other games with fewer headaches.

At the beginning of video game creation, games were essentially difficult to create because people could only afford a few games at a time. However, these five games are downright crazy. 

So, what’s your take? Do you agree with our list of the worst puzzle games? Let us know on our socials here or in the comments below.


Evans I. Karanja is a freelance writer who loves to write about anything technology. He is always on the lookout for interesting topics, and enjoys writing about video games, cryptocurrency and blockchain and more. When not writing, he can be found playing video games or watching F1.