Puzzles that only exist so that you can enter the answer that you have received in another place. Expect the direct answer to be written on a wall in the room next to the puzzle device or similar in the easier cases.
If you are lucky, you have to find the answer split up in parts and properly figure out how to reassemble them into the answer before you can enter it. If you're unlucky, you'll discover the answer was given by an dying NPC a few hours ago, and now that you've forgotten it, the game won't repeat it
Some people never find the clue and end up trying to brute-force the answer by trying everything
. In some cases, this is because the game's Copy Protection
has been stealthily disguised as an in-game puzzle, with the actual clue lying somewhere in the Feelies
More generous games
may register that the player has found the answer, and either prompt you with it at the appropriate point, or treat it like an Event Flag
, simply opening any door to which you've found the access code.
The answer may be randomized to make it impossible to know without the clues. If it isn't randomized, it presents an opportunity for savvy players to attempt Sequence Breaking
, which can fail if the game doesn't allow you to enter the right answer without going through all the motions
Action Adventure Games
- In The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and later games in the series, you can't actually play a song for use in-game until Link has learned it. The series utilizes this in other methods, as well; for example, Nico asks Link for a password (with associated riddle!) in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, but even if you can guess the password, Nico won't accept it until Link has heard one of the pirates say it (though at least he acknowledges that it's close to the right answer and that Link's just "saying it wrong".)
- Also, in the Great Deku Tree, a Deku Scrub tells you in what order you need to defeat three of his brethren to access the boss. And then one of them tells you where the boss' Weak Spot is!
- In The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, one way they show off the DS's features is to allow you to write notes on maps. To make sure you get maximum use out of this feature, the solution to a puzzle is frequently given somewhere else in the dungeon, and you're intended to write it down when you find it.
- Also, in the Temple of the Ocean King, there's a door where you have to draw a Triforce symbol on a door to go to a new area. Even if you know this, the game won't register it until you actually see the symbol in a completely different area of the game.
- In Penny Arcade Adventures, the PIN for the ATM card you loot is written on nearby scraps of paper. The trick is, in order to join the scraps into one continuous piece of paper, one of the scraps has to be flipped upside down.
- In Startropics, the code for the submarine, 747, is normally found by wetting the letter that came with the game to reveal the watermark.
- Nintendo also released this game for Virtual Console - when you download it, a copy of the letter is sent to your Wii mailbox (along with a button that dips the letter in water.)
- In Killer7, one of the chapters requires the player to memorize the details of multiple billboards in order to solve the security code of a fake office building. In a later chapter, a ridiculously long slew of security questions requires the player to find at least half a dozen audio logs and listen through every last one of them. Fortunately, the game is linear by design, so it's very hard to miss the solution in both cases (and in the case of the latter, the clues the game intends for you to memorize are shown in text while the audio logs play).
- In Dragon Ball Z - Legacy of Goku 2 one section requires you to shut down some disruptively loud music, by making a random combination out of 7 switches. You need to talk to three of the complaining bystanders in the valley below, who invite you to listen to a segment of the song the party-goer's obsessed with, each of which mentions a color. Those are the switches you need to flip.
- BioForge: The various security codes (randomized with every game).
- Grim Fandango: The betting stub / photo-finish puzzle resembles this but requires some real thinking to figure out where the game is giving you the info. The race number is in the photo. The week number can be deduced from The Olivia I in the background — Nick tells you that the Olivia I crashed on its maiden flight, killing Olivia's favorite cat. The memorial plaque beneath the taxidermied cat says that he was killed in the second week of the season. And the day of the week can be figured by observing the fans in the foreground wearing kitty hats. The track announcer and the photo booth attendant are both happy to tell you that Tuesday is kitty-hat day.
- The Neverhood has lots of these. Keep paper and a pencil handy or you'll find yourself backtracking often. For just two examples:
- In one scene, to progress further in the game, Klaymen has to tune a radio to the same station that a radio in another location is tuned to.
- In another scene, there's a specific mixture of chemicals which has to be followed to create a potion to revert you to the regular size after shrinking. There are actually two of them: one is for an emergency case when you forget to write down the solution for another one.
- Out Of Order, the controlroom password.
- Sam & Max: Freelance Police, Jurgens castle.
- In Syberia II, the final puzzle (the device that calls the mammoths) has its solution written on one of the walls in the ship you arrived in.
- Gateway II has one spot where you have to press the right numbers on a TV. The right numbers are written on a painting near the beginning of the game, and advertised by a nearly identical painting right next to the TV - but if you forgot the numbers, you have to head back through a bunch of puzzle rooms to get to the original painting and then back through the puzzle rooms again to get back to the TV.
- Myst. Literally everywhere and everything. An example from the first game is finding the solution to one puzzle by manipulating an orrery to view specific constellations on specific dates mentioned in a journal. An example from the second game involves activating dome machines on every island then visiting one of the islands to use a polymorphic overlay to record the grid location of those domes. THEN, you have to determine what you do with those solutions.
- In A Vampyre Story, there are a couple of examples. In order to progress past the first act of the game, you have to get a three-digit combination to unlock your captor's coffin, but you can't simply try combinations until it works, you have to ask a couple of sapient room fixtures what it is. Then, early in the second act, you have to do the standard "mess with the bookcase to find the hidden passage" shenanigan. Just knowing the two titles of the books should, in theory, be enough information to eventually open it, but until someone else tells you to switch them, you're stuck.
- In King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow, a door in the Evil Chancellor's palace only opens to the words "Ali Zebu", which are a bit harder to guess. (Two clues need to be put together, one of which can only be found on the Golden Path.)
- Finding the code for the final door in Nancy Drew: Danger by Design is such a pain to decode that they included a walkthrough with the game that explains it. At least they did that much!
- The Frogwares Sherlock Holmes games involve rather egregious amounts of this, especially since Holmes (who's asking you as Dr. Watson) presumably already knows the answer to what he's asking. Entirely done away with in Sherlock Holmes versus Jack the Ripper, though - it's been replaced by a more intuitive "deductions" system.
- In Seiklus, there's a room with a piano and two solutions to it. Entering one awards the player with access to the area above. Entering the other awards him with a moon piece.
- The Crystal Key has a particularly evil example. You begin the game looking at the control panel of your spaceship, with the coordinates of your current location displayed on it. About halfway through, you need to hijack an alien ship, and you're expected to enter in the same coordinates and land next to your original ship. If you didn't already write the coordinates down, you'd better save and restart the game.
- A rather irritating one in Dreamfall: The Longest Journey requires you to input a musical code consisting of four notes. The solution is given just a few minutes prior to finding the puzzle, but there's nothing indicating that you should remember that sequence of notes at the time, and there's no way to replay it. Hope you kept a separate save file handy. Also, the puzzle itself only contains three glowing symbols (each one generates a different note), so if you weren't paying attention, you'll probably assume that you just need to press the three symbols in a certain order, thus dooming your brute force attempts to failure.
- the white chamber has a very... specific way of not letting the player execute Sequence Breaking early in the game. If you use the droid code before your character is able to learn it, the corpse you assemble later on appears on-screen, glaring at you with the words "NOT YET" engraved in the place where its eyes would be.
- BioShock has this in the form of several audio diaries that inform the player of access codes to certain rooms. They include an invitation to an electrical torture session, a mother looking for her lost child, and a number of others. However, many of the locks (the ones that don't conceal plot-important items) can simply be hacked open. Including, thankfully, the one whose solution isn't provided until the next level.
- The sequel does not contain hackable doors, but it also helpfully recognizes when a combination has been found (including ones that appear in the game environment and must be looked at) and displays it in the corner of the combination entry screen.
- The community-made PC port of Half-Life: Decay includes one of these as a means to unlock the Bonus Level.
- Banjo-Kazooie and Banjo-Tooie: Even if you already know the Cheato codes (such as from a guide or a previous playthrough), entering them won't work until you've actually learned them from Cheato in your current game.
- The code written on a wall on the ship in Rusty Bucket Bay is another example.
- Actually, you could enter Cheato Codes without learning them in Tooie. You just have to put them in backwards if you hadn't "earned" the cheat yet.
- The mantras in the La-Mulana endgame. You have to find and read each mantra tablet in order before you can chant its mantra, and Guide Dang It if you don't know where to chant it.
- Of course, La-Mulana did this in homage to the MSX game Maze Of Galious, where you could find a monument that showed what you needed to type in the Boss Room to fight the world boss, or not bother with looking at monuments if you knew what to type already.
- Used constantly in Saira, but less of an issue given that you have a functional camera with plenty of room for everything. And the tutorial makes sure you know to use it. There still end up being things you won't think to photograph the first time you see them, but as there's usually nothing trying to kill you and the game's focus is exploration...
- Safecracker, about half of the safes was just there for you to enter solutions into.
- In Riddle Transfer, you and your friends are trapped in a government facilities, and have to enter codes in the keypads to get free. The codes are:
- Phil: 78255. You can see it by clicking on your TV screen.
- Phred: 51702. Phred's clue is a piece of paper with the word "SNOZ". The letters are actually numbers, bunched up together.
- Zack: 12345. The clue he gives you sounds complicated, but it's actually a set of consecutive numbers. It was written on the side of his door.
- Smiley: 51333. The agent who locked her up was mumbling it to himself out loud.
- In Final Fantasy VI, even if you know the Easter Egg code to get the treasure in Daryl's Tomb, you still have to collect the sentence parts from some tombstones before you can "enter" it. That said, it's hard to see how the game could allow you to enter it otherwise, as it's a sixteen-letter code broken into four-letter chunks - specifically "The World Is Square" - Square's corporate motto at the time - written backwards: ERAU QSSI DLRO WEHT. At least it's all in the same dungeon.
- There's also a really weird instance of this in South Figaro. One NPC tells you to give his grandson the password... and doesn't remember what the password is. Whoops! No clues are given, either. Fortunately, the game is nice enough to only give you three possible passwords to choose from and as many guesses as you need. Still makes you wonder how Locke ever guessed.
- Final Fantasy VII has several.
- One requires you to guess the Mayor of Midgar's four-letter password by scanning books in the library. TV screens in each section helpfully remind browsers to return books to their proper sections.
- Another requires the player to quickly enter a four-number combination into a safe. A note near the entrance provides clues to the locations of three of the numbers. Also the fourth, which is written in invisible ink below the first three clues.
- During your trip to space, you can salvage the huge materia by guessing a four-button combination. Cid will rattle off clues as he remembers them. (If you get it on your first try, he'll suggest that you must have cheated somehow.)
- In Final Fantasy IX, in order to obtain the eidolon Ramuh, he asks you to retrieve 5 pieces from a story and bring them back to him. Then, you must choose 4 of the pieces and order them to make a coherent story. There are two options that make sense for the final part: suggesting that the main character, though a hero, was only human after all, or saying that the way in which he died was what made him a true hero. No matter which of the two options is chosen, Ramuh becomes Garnet's eidolon when she explains what made her choose that way.
- Super Paper Mario, the three boxes to hit.
- Also from Super Paper Mario, there are two passcodes in Merlee's Mansion that you can buy, one of which lets you into a room where you can earn Rubees at a higher rate, and one of which opens a vault containing the amount of Rubees you need to pay off your debt.
- And again near the end of the game, when you have to light torches in a certain order.
- Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door has the "can't enter the answer until you know it" version in Chapter 4: When the shapeshifter challenges you to guess his name, the letter 'p' is missing from the entry box. The literal letter is locked in a chest in the same room where you learn his true name.
- Also from Thousand-Year Door, there's a numerical passcode in the that you can find out in one place and enter in another.
- The Sunken Ship in Super Mario RPG requires you to puzzle out the answer to a riddle using clues obtained through a set of minigames before you can fight the dungeon's midboss. It's "pearls".
- The Cave of Spirits in Tales of Phantasia requires a password composed of four syllabes to enter. The correct password can be found somewhere in Alvanista.
- Happens a few times in Tales of Symphonia. One of them requires activating little windmills in order, and one requires making four statues face the right way.
- The one with the windmills is compounded by having three solutions: one opens the door forward, while the other two break down walls in the room to reveal a monster and a chest behind each one.
- Tales of Vesperia features a door locked with a password you have to type in based on 3 clues found elsewhere in a ruined city. The password is totally obvious from the clues, but finding them requires the player to search everything. Fortunately you're not required to find them all to enter the solution, though you do need at least one.
- To get out of the Wyndian Tomb in Breath of Fire III, you have to read a series of tombstones, remembering the words written in green (and ignoring the ones in red), so that you can punch them into the largest tombstone in the area.
- Happens Once A Game in Mega Man Battle Network. In the first area, these's always a puzzle where Lan has to go off somewhere to find a passcode so Mega Man can proceed.
- Chrono Trigger, when you get sent to the future. It's a 4-button code, and you have 6 buttons to chose from, so it's pretty easy to guess it, since it will tell you that you've got it wrong as soon as you've entered a wrong key: XABY.
- And in Lucca's sidequest, entering the code to stop the machine (Lucca's mother's name, Lara, or L, A, R, A).
- Averted in Chrono Cross; fairly early in the game, you come across a multiple-choice question that appears to be one of these. However, as you're puzzling over it, you quickly discover that the correct answer is saying nothing at all.
- Also played straight in the early game; a ridiculously large and ornate combination lock in a fortress is too inconvenient to brute force, having 100 combinations, but you can just head down to the barracks and learn it from a note a forgetful soldier wrote for himself.
- The original The Bards Tale — repeatedly.
- EarthBound has you do this to get into Master Belch's base. However, it's subverted as the password is to not say anything for three (real-time) minutes.
- Early in Dubloon, there is a room with five treasure chests which have to be opened in correct order. The correct order is scribbled on the floor nearby. In the final dungeon, there are four colour-coded statues which must be pressed in correct order. The solution is nearby as well (or more accurately, on its reflection on the floor).
- In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim there are doors which have 3 symbol combination locks in addition to a claw that acts as the key. You cannot open the door without both, which would be more difficult if every single one didn't have the same method of finding the solution: Examine the back of the claw in your inventory. After you do this in one of the early story missions you will find the same method works for literally every other such door in the game, of which there are a decent number.
- There are similar puzzles involving three to four pillars, each with three sides displaying images of animals, using the same images as on the claws. Each pillar must be rotated to show the correct image. In nearly all cases, there are statues in an arrangement mirroring the pillars, indicating the correct images to show on the pillars. Sometimes they're directly above the pillars.
- Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 requires you to get the password for Kyurem's room on the Plasma Frigate from the Team Plasma grunts, and then enter it into the door's control panel to open it.
- Might and Magic 2 ends with the otherwise high-fantasy medieval party triggering a high-tech device that will crash the Earth into the sun (long story), and you have 15 minutes to solve a cryptographic puzzle, enter the solution, and avert the disaster.
- OFF has its fair share of these. You'll often have to type in a number using a handful of blocks that act as a numeric keypad. You'll also have to answer some questions based on some drawings on pages of a block calendar. Later on there's even a part where you have to enter a number which appears right in front of you at the same time as the entry screen. And a part where the solution is in the FAQ in the readme file (but is incomprehensible unless you know what it's referring to). A rather unique example is in Zone 3, when a door has you type in a passname, while the Character Portrait of said door is a silhouette that can easily be recognized as one of the enemies in that area. The passname is the name of the enemy in question.
- In Metal Gear Solid, you are asked at one point to contact Meryl through CODEC. The frequency to use, of course, is written on the back of the CD case. Brilliant bit of copy protection, that, until the advent of Game FAQS...
- Not to mention the fact that there's only 200 selectable CODEC frequencies and Meryl's was the 15th if you start from the lowest selectable one.
- In Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, there's a part where you have to contact a scientist via the radio, using a frequency obtained from a note on the leg of messenger pigeon. The trick is that Snake, instead of seeing a number written down, reads the note as saying 'WIS.OhIO'. If you contact Miller enough times, he'll eventually correctly deduce that Snake is holding the piece of paper upside down, even if you haven't.
- Splinter Cell has this in spades. The first two games had keypads that you either had to get the codes from a computer or interrogate a guard. The third gave players the option to hack the keypads with the risk of setting off an alarm upon failure.
- The Silent Hill series plays a variation where the directness of the answer is inversely proportional to the puzzle difficulty. A numeric that appears scribbled over a surface in Easy, for example, can become a two-variable equation system in Hard.
- Or, in true Silent Hill style, a simple logic puzzle on Easy/Normal turns into a tender love poem that describes, in graphic detail, the act of mutilating someone's face on Hard.
- Resident Evil:
- Played absolutely straight in the first game. An upstairs door in the Mansion only opens with the correct code, and only after the player learns it in-game. However, the player doesn't actually enter the code; the door opens automatically. Furthermore, the player can only learn the code in one of the two different player scenarios, so between Chris and Jill only one even has the chance to get through the door.
- Subverted in Resident Evil 2, which has a safe in the Police Station that can be unlocked at any time with the correct code, which does not change from game to game.
- Also subverted in Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, where a locker in the evidence room can be opened with the correct code. The code is not constant, but the game uses only a few variations.
- Resident Evil: Code: Veronica had a code to open a sealed lab. The code won't work until the contaminated laboratory finishes venting. Learning the code by reading it off of a painting in the lab via a surveillance camera also causes the venting to finish. The player still has to enter the code manually. Subverted in another case where the player can enter the temperature setting for the refrigerator to identify a needed chemical without having to learn it in-game.
- Headhunter the game does this quite a lot with key codes and what-not in e-mails but perhaps the worst case is where the combination lock to the board room of a biker gang is the same as the graffiti on a poster just around the corner.
- Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy has one for a door lock, however it's randomly generated every game to make you have to remote view the screen.
- On Neopets, answering a question for the Brain Tree is impossible until you do two quests for a completely different character. The two part answer is random each time, and even if you could guess correctly it won't work unless you do the extra quests.
- The final puzzle in the horror game The House 2 requires knowledge of the year of birth of the family's daughter. The real daughter, who the family killed and stuffed into the safe, was born in 1947.
- An early part of the Nemesis quest in Kingdom of Loathing requires you to first obtain an item from one of three starting zones (depending on your main stat), an insanely spicy burrito tied to your main stat, and your class's level 5 skill. You then have to obtain eight strips of paper and put them in the right order to discover the password. Conveniently, the enemies who drop those slips of paper are in the same room as the door.
- The players of LIS_DEAD have to find passwords and enter them to unlock the meat of most of the game.
- The brief visual novel Summer, Cicadas, and the Girl has, as its only decision point, a text box where you have to enter the next location for the character to go. Unless you're very lucky (or very Genre Savvy), you won't get it right the first time. But each time you get it wrong, a new option appears on the title screen to give you a small hint.
- Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors has several puzzles like this, given its genre.
- In the same vein, the sequel—Virtue's Last Reward—prominently features several such puzzles. Usually, the Player Character's "good memory" means that the game will provide the player a place to review the solution in question. However, it is often the player's responsibility to remember information from other paths in the Visual Novel.
- Technically, this is what nearly every security system in Real Life is. Whether it uses a passcode, a key, or some other method of opening, it's something you learn or are given somewhere else and bring with you. Very few actual security systems involve solving puzzles on location.