Monday, April 09, 2012

Adventure Game Musings: Yesterday

I saw Jane Jenson's Kickstarter and after reading it decided I'd quite like to play her most recently finished game - Grey Matter. Unfortunately it wasn't on Steam so I bought "Yesterday" instead, another point and click adventure game. 

The art style and sound in Yesterday are pretty good and most of the puzzles are logical but there was one that slightly irked me. It seems like a bad design decision that could have easily been corrected. Don't read on if you don't want spoilers.

At one point in the game you're in a mountain retreat and you have to "Retrieve a truth flower", at least that's why you're told to do, what you actually have to do is ring a bell but that's not my gripe. There are about four rooms and plenty of things to interact with. In one rooms there's a monk, your master, and you among various conversation options you can choose "Let's play a game".

Let's play a game opens a menu and prompts you to choose how many fingers to hold out, you then choose a number. Once you've done that, the monk guesses a number and holds out some fingers. If the monk gets the total number of fingers held out correctly he says you owe him a glass of water. I played for a bit and didn't beat the monk and didn't really think anything of it. 

A little later I was stuck, as far I was concerned I had to do something to get a truth flower but I didn't really see any way forward to do that. There's a hint button in the game and that led me to use a sword on a window next to the monk to open the window. The hint was "Maybe you need more light". Still I wasn't quite why I would have wanted that. It turns out when you go to "Play game" with monk, you can see the shadow of the monks fingers from behind his back and use that to guess the correct number of total fingers.

Still I'm not sure why I'd want to win this game with the monk. But I do it and at the end he says I can choose one of the his treasures. One of the treasures turns out to be screws.

That wasn't a good puzzle - I didn't know why I was doing the things I did, I had no plan, no idea of the outcome! 

It could have been fixed pretty easily. In front of the monk he could have laid out his three treasures. If the player tried to get one, then the monk could have said "Beat me in the game and you can have it". Suddenly it would have made sense to try and beat monk.

I think the general lesson is always consider the point of view of the player, without any foreknowledge would he think to do this action if he stumble on the correct chain of deduction? This fails that test.

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