Posted February 04, 2021
*MILD SPOILER HERE*
When I first found the clock puzzle in A3, it seemed pretty obvious what I had to do: set the clock to a specific time, and I just had to find a clue as to what time that was. I thoroughly searched A3, but found nothing. I went on to other levels, returning occasionally, trying ideas. I was nearing the end of the game and finally decided on a brute force attack: to tediously and systematically try each of the almost 576 possible combinations, one at a time, until I found the right one. It worked.
At that point, having got the star, I felt justified in looking on the internet to see what the “right” solution is. Turns out you’re supposed to scan the QR code with a smart pfone. Never mind that every other QR in the game reads out automatically when you aim the crosshairs at it; this one requires an actual, physical smart pfone.
Now wait a minute. I don’t have a smart pfone! I don’t want one! So essentially, as far as the clock puzzle is concerned, I’m screwed!
I’m accustomed to puzzle-adventure games (e.g., the Myst series) being a completely self-contained, immersive experience. I expect that, with a bit of imagination, I can ignore the fact that it’s only a game on a computer. Just like reading a great book, I want to imagine that I’m really there in another world. Having to use any external device, beyond a scribble stick and some paper, wrecks that feeling for me. I don’t want to Google anything. I shouldn’t have to rely on specialized knowledge (e.g., that hex code can be translated, using an online tool, into plain text). All that should be required is imagination and an ability to think logically. Even if I had a smart pfone, I doubt I would have ever thought to use it, because I purposefully avoid thinking about such things when I want to immerse myself in a story.
The clock puzzle reminds me a little of the Black Moiety secret entrance puzzle in Riven. But the Riven puzzle was tons more well-implemented: devilishly tricky, but completely immersed in the world of the game, and quite dramatic to boot. (The clock was kind of a let-down. Basically you just watch water drain out of a giant bathtub. Not very dramatic or exciting.)
Hey Croteam! Talos is a great game, but in this one instance you guys totally blew it.