Tips for newbie adventure gamers
The classic adventure games that Sierra has produced are a unique way
to play a game that involves exploring and thinking in a virtual world.
They provide enough of a challenge that any player, whether a newcomer
or a seasoned veteran, may experience being stuck without a clue as
to what to do next in the game. I myself am familiar with these common
adventure game difficulties through my own Sierra game experiences.
The following are tips that could help any player get through the game
if one does not wish to consult a walkthrough just yet. May they help
you and anyone else you know who needs a helping hand in a Sierra adventure
Save early, save often.
This is one of the biggest rules of thumb (especially prior to the advent of Lucasarts' graphic adventures) that any adventure gamer must always keep in mind. It simply means that you should save your game before you try anything risky, especially if it could result in death for your character. Of course, if you know the game you are playing doesn't involve any death for the player's character, then it's OK. Still, you may want to keep saving your game periodically and frequently in the event that your computer crashes. In general, if you save often, you would not have to repeat the actions that were not recorded at the last game you saved if your die in the game or your computer experiences technical difficulties. Being able to reload at the most recent spot is a real time saver.
Take anything that's not nailed down.
If there's one major difference between an adventure game and real
life, it's the ability to carry virtually an infinite number of objects,
regardless of size (i.e. carrying a sled in King's Quest V). With that,
no adventure game player should hesitate to take any item that is possible
to take. Whenever you see an item that you could possibly take, try
to take it with you. In an adventure game, there is no such thing as
deciding whether to take something or not. Of course, if a game has
some sort of inventory limit, you should decide on the best items to
take. However, what you still should do is note which items are portable
so that when you have a chance, you can come back to take them. Make
a map so you won't get lost.
In case you don't have a good memory, it may help to draw a map of the game environment explored so far on paper. A map involving boxes representing game screens or locations with lines connecting them should suffice. You never know when an urgent game situation comes up when you must precisely know your immediate environment in order to get through and stay alive.
Go back if you may have missed something or are unclear about something.
This is yet another reason to have some saved games handy. In any adventure game, you will encounter clues of all forms that will help you proceed the game. Sometimes, you may forget a clue you saw earlier or may have missed it because you went through the game a little too quickly. Save your game and restore an older one or go back to a location already visited to review the possibly important information in question. This is one of many ways to get out of a situation in which there is virtually no progress in the game. Also, some games may require the use of an inventory item that you cannot get once you miss your chance of getting it. If that's possibly the case, restore an earlier saved game and explore your environment more carefully.
Read your game's instruction manual.
Suprisingly, there are even times when you may get stuck on a puzzle simply because you are not aware of a particular detail in the game's instruction manual. Even if you have played adventure games many times, be sure you are aware of the contents of the game's documentation. You never know when learning how to do particular things in the game, such as combining inventory items, could help you continue the game. After all, a new adventure game may not necessarily use the same game engine from previous games. Read your manual and know everything about how to play the game.
Exploring Your World
Use your character's eyes as well as your own eyes. When looking around
the game world you are in, you should always have your character look
at everything (i.e. type "look" or click the eye cursor).
First, look at the game screen yourself and note anything that stands
out. For example, be sure to take notice of things on the ground, things
hanging from other things, and things that you can interact with in
some way. Then, get your game character to look at those things to get
more details. From there, you can judge whether those items are significant
or not. Once you take care of closely examining those initially noteworthy
items, look at everything else in the environment. Remember, it is your
character who is exploring, so only he or she knows what is important
or not. This requires a little patience in the player since doing this
takes some time.
Vital clues are not always in the player's view.
Be sure to have your character look behind, under, and inside anything that should be examined closely. If the game you are playing involves a typing interface, don't just type "look object." Also include prepositions to type commands like "look under object," "look inside object," "look on object," and "look behind object." For some games with the mouse interface, pay attention to descriptions of things you click with the eye cursor. If it mentions something that is out of view from the player, look closely at it if you can.
Even the smallest object can vital for your adventure.
Another reason to get into the habit of looking carefully in the game environment is that some important objects, especially inventory items, are very small. Get into the habit of spotting coins and small pieces of paper on the ground. Some adventure games require that much attention to detail. This can be very important if the current game location is a messy one, like a street with much litter. Such a place has potential for useful items that are not easy to spot.
If possible, revisit familiar spots to see new items.
In some games, new things come up during the adventure as certain things
are done by the player. Therefore, if you are stuck, you may want to
just explore every place you've visited so far. You may just find that
some things have changed, like an item that was not seen previously.
As a last resort, click on every spot on the screen.
For games utilizing the mouse interface, you may feel so desperate
to move on with the game when you're stuck that you literally click
the eye cursor and hand cursor on every spot in the screen, hoping to
find something that was overlooked before. Believe it or not, this maddening
behavior seen in stumped adventure gamers is something I recommend as
advice for anyone in this situation. You never know when doing so just
might help you in some way. Interacting With Characters
Pay attention to favors that any character you meet may have.
A common adventure game puzzle is seeking a particular item for a character who loses it or wants it, whether the character asks you to get it or not. In any case, it's a good idea to pay attention to things that any character you meet may want and perform that favor. Something like this is likely to have been conceived by the game designer for a particular purpose. Take advantage of it. Show some of your items to other characters.
It is also useful to get the opinions of other characters about some
of your inventory items. Of course, you wouldn't want to waste time
showing every single item to every single character. Rather, use your
judgment and consider the kind of person you're speaking to. If, for
example, the character you are interacting with is a scientist, it would
be more appropriate to show him a sample of fluid rather than a historical
artifact. Remember that inventory items are not just for usage to get
out of a sticky situation. Some of them also hold clues for interpretation.
If possible, revisit familiar characters to get new dialogue and items.
This tip is just an extension of the tip above about seeing new items after revisiting old locations. New things may also include new dialogue by non-player characters whom you revisit. You may also get new clues and items from these characters.
Exhaust all the dialogue you can.
In adventure games of the 1990s with the mouse interface, talking to
characters involve clicking a talk cursor on the character. If this
is the case, do not limit yourself to clicking just once to talk to
the character. Keep clicking until the character no longer has anything
new to say and says the same thing over and over. This way, you can
get all the possible clues you can from one character. Otherwise, you
can miss an important clue. If the game involves selecting a topic to
ask the character (i.e. Quest for Glory III or Gabriel Knight I ), be
sure to go through each topic, repeating them to make sure that the
character no longer says anything new. When you see a list of conversation
topics, do not look at it as a list of topics to choose from. Rather,
look at it as a list of all the topics you must go through to get the
most out of the conversation.
Use Inventory Items
Try to combine every item in every possible item pair when you're stuck. In games with the mouse interface, there may be situations where one item has to be combined with another in order to get past them. At times, item combinations are obvious based on common sense. There may be times when you want to see whether combining items will make you unstuck with a game. It doesn't hurt to try to combine items in every possible combination. You'll never know when an unexpected item combination may actually work, and if it does happen, you can think about what to do with it.
For versatile items, try clicking them on many things you see if you're
Just like the tip about clicking the eye and hand cursor everywhere in hopes that you'll find something you missed, you can do the same with inventory items. It's a waste of time to click every single item on everything. Rather, just do so with items that could have many uses, like magnifying glasses or notebooks.
Examine your inventory items carefully.
When you start a game, look at all the items you have just so you know what you can use in the beginning. As you pick up new inventory items, look at them to see their use and examine any clues present. Most games simply give a brief description of the item when you examine them. If you are able to examine the items more closely somehow, like clicking on different parts of a close-up image of the item (i.e. Gabriel Knight II), be sure you do that as well.
Solving puzzles and working out the best solutions.
Note the things that currently need to be done. Playing through an
adventure game is not a mindless task, especially because your objectives
in the game are discovered as you play instead of presented to you from
the very beginning. You need to think about what needs to be done at
the moment and think of how to do it. In any adventure game, it helps
to have a mental list of quests, tasks, or problems to take care of
and think about how to approach each one. The habit of remembering what
needs to be done will help you spend more time pondering on it until
you do find the solution. This is what adventure games are all about,
after all. Often, common sense and logic could help you brainstorm possible
solutions. Sometimes, one of them may just be the answer. Other times,
the answer is inconceivable and not something you would have thought
of, but at least you get used to the thinking process when playing an
adventure game. Using logic involves thinking about reality. For example,
if a puzzle involves a fire blocking a path, the first thing that should
come to mind is the use of water to put it out. A good adventure gamer
can think his or her out of many situations.
Listen to other characters.
This tip is very simple. If the current puzzle or task is something
that a non-player character or two knows about, they may give hints
about the solution to the problem. If you ignore them, you put yourself
in an adventure game dead end since you don't follow up on helpful advice.
Look at unused items and figure out their use.
99% of the time, an inventory item is there for some use. One thing you can do when you're stuck is to look at the inventory items you haven't used yet as well as any notable things in each game location visited thus far. For each thing, ask yourself, "What did the designer think when he or she put it in the game?" What could each unused inventory item be used for? For each person or thing in a location that could be part of a puzzle, in what situation would you take advantage of its presence? Things in the foreground and in your possession are usually there for a reason.
Pay special attention to responses suggesting a partial puzzle solution.
If you do something to an object in the game and the response you get tells you that you're on the right track, but you need something more, then spend time pondering on the accompanying action or circumstance required to solve the puzzle. Let's say, for instance, that you are stuck and pass time by clicking each inventory item you have on a certain object in the game environment (i.e. a door, a desk, etc.). You may find that one item produces a unique response while attempting to use other items on the same object results in the same generic response. For example, if you find that using a lockpick on a desk produces the response, "That might work, but you still need to do something else first," then you likely have just found part of the puzzle solution. If using all other items on the desk gives you the generic response, "That doesn't seem to work," then those items are not part of the puzzle solution. In this case, you would then ponder on what is the other thing or things missing that need to be accounted for before using the correct inventory item.