I’ve never been particularly good at puzzle games of any kind. I fall into one of two extremes––I find the puzzles too hard to solve or I overthink the solution to the puzzle when it’s a lot easier than one might think. When I usually overthink puzzle games and the easiest solution has been staring at me in the face the entire time, I’m instantly dumbfounded why it isn’t so obvious for me as it is for everyone else.
Plenty of people who enjoy solving puzzles don’t mind spending hours on a particularly complicated piece, looking at it from every angle and turning it over this way and that until the “Eureka!” moment hits them. I, on the other hand, don’t have an infinite amount of patience to draw upon. Puzzles require the sort of critical thinking I don’t really possess. Give me books, movies, or TV shows and I’ll analyze the plot and characters for hours in my head or over a discussion with a friend.
When I play games like Portal or any of the Professor Layton games, the core of all these games is having the ability to effectively solve puzzles to further the plot or game, I run into a slew of problems. Most puzzles at the start of these games are mainly simple and almost requires no effort to solve at all. But like any progress you make in a game, you will begin to encounter harder puzzles that will take more time to solve (or so it seems).
I always like trying to solve things on my own without any outside help of any kind, but sometimes it isn’t always possible, especially when you’re legitimately stuck. As much as I have enjoyed playing Portal and Professor Layton, I always find myself falling back on video game walkthroughs or cheats on the Internet. Shameful, I know, but drastic times calls for drastic measures. Well, that and I really want to see more of the story unfold.
When I find the puzzle’s solution I’m stuck on through the guides, I tend to feel pretty stupid when I see the puzzle isn’t as difficult as I made it out to be. I’d sit at my computer for a few minutes and wonder why such a simple solution is easier for others to get at than I can. The answer is really simple, I’m overthinking the puzzle to death. This has happened more with Portal than Professor Layton, but to be fair, I haven’t played or finished a Professor Layton game in a really long time.
I think it comes down to a trick of the mind. When I’m in the middle of figuring out a puzzle that requires a little more thinking and effort, I automatically presume the solution is really complicated. On the surface, a puzzle may look really scary to tackle. There might be a ton of things in the room to move or switch, and I think I have to use all the pieces to get myself out of it. In fact, it’s probably not necessary to use everything laid out before you. The beauty of most puzzles is that there are many ways to solve it. There isn’t a right or wrong way to approach a puzzle. You just have to figure out at least one way that will satisfy the challenge you’re given. Puzzles that look intimidating are probably a lot easier to solve. Too bad I have a bad habit of not approaching a lot of puzzles this way.
Maybe I just naturally make things harder on myself when the solution is really simple. Maybe it’s the flaw of a person who thinks way too much about things in general. Or maybe I just stink at puzzles. Yeah, that’s probably it. I just suck at puzzles and I doubt that will ever change, as I continue to play more games like Portal or Professor Layton. I can always count on Internet guides to help me out in a jam.