I played the first act of Broken Age this morning and I want to highlight a well designed puzzle in each character’s chapter.
Vella: In the clouds (Meriloft), Vella’s goal is to get back down to the ground, and it becomes obvious that the only way to do this is to make one of the platforms really heavy. Which objects in Meriloft happen to be really heavy? The golden eggs. You can acquire these eggs in any order after getting a couple key items which you use to help you get to the final steps. This puzzle stands out to me because I trust the clues I’m being given by the puzzle-maker and I’m not constrained to do this puzzle, which has a 3-part answer, in any exact order.
Shay: In the ship, there are three teleportation doors. For some reason, they shrink Shay’s head when he uses them and the door’s robotic voices make a point to tell Shay that he has to teleport back through the same door to increase your head size. So you have to remember the order of doors you walked through to make his head a specific size for the final puzzle. This works because it’s discovered quite organically and you may end up encountering multiple times before actually using it for the final puzzle.
In a game with puzzles that have unique paths and eventually converge together, it’s really crucial to allow the player to solve them in any order. Additionally, they need complete trust in the puzzle-maker that they’ll find the right pattern.
(I may be mad about the puzzle in Vella’s chapter in which you have to switch out the diamond glass and the 300-year old guys says “yep you even got them in the right place” WHEN IN FACT I DID NOT and I spent 20 minutes trying to find more glass before looking up a walkthrough)