Only Smart People May Pass
"He has figured out Monsieur Adell's greatest weakness: His inability to think."
This refers to any barrier that requires the heroes to solve some kind of puzzle or Riddle
in order to pass. Alternatively, it could be some test of skill. Often given by Threshold Guardians
(especially if the guardian in question is a Riddling Sphinx
). You must be able to work it out based on the clues you are given on the spot. (If you must come to it with some knowledge, it's Only the Knowledgable May Pass
— though sometimes if those who tried to deploy that trope were clumsy, they gave you enough clues to make it this, and conversely, if the answer to this is too weird or insane, you may really need to know it in advance.)
One wonders why
this was deemed a better barrier than say, a lock and key carried on someone's person instead of being in a chest elsewhere in the building
If the goal was to actually allow smart people to pass, like into Mensa
, then this would make sense. But it's often a defense against smart people who want to take whatever is being guarded. If evil, these smart people will either already be past this puzzle
or trick the heroes into solving the puzzle for them
See Block Puzzle
, the various Stock Puzzles
and Stock Videogame Puzzles
, and Solve the Soup Cans
for examples of this.
Expect even the least smart of protagonists
to be able to find a way to solve what was supposed to be
an ingenious puzzle.
This trope dates back to at least the Sphinx in Greek mythology, making it Older Than Feudalism
Compare Only the Worthy May Pass
, These Questions Three
; also see First Contact Math
, and contrast Only Idiots May Pass
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Anime & Manga
- The lower levels of Mahora Academy's Library Island in Mahou Sensei Negima! is filled with these, as Negi and the Baka Rangers found out the hard way in an early chapter. However, these were deliberately placed by the headmaster, who appears to have plotted the whole adventure to force the Baka Rangers to study for their finals. The characters treat it more like Alphabet Soup Cans, though.
- An episode of Ojamajo Doremi has Doremi (of all people) answer a somewhat-Sphinx inspired riddle. "Thin in the day, thick in the night, it disappears when it sleeps." Answer: Cat's eyes. The 4Kids dub tries to justify her knowing the answer by having her say she used to have a cat. Right.
- Spoofed in Zatch Bell! with Poosophagus (Unko Tin Tin). He guards Faudo's esophagus and threatens to drop the whole party in stomach acid if they don't all get a question right. Fortunately, most of his questions are really easy, when he remembers to ask one at all. He only asks two hard ones:
- 829,735 × 962,527 = ?. Posed to Kiyomaro, a supergenius who calculates the answer in his head. ("It's 797,812,605,345!").
- Prove Fermats Last Theorem. A question that would be impossible for almost anyone on the planet, this was posed to Umagon, who can't even speak. Kiyomaro forces Poosophagus to give Umagon an easier question, a more conventional riddle. Mainly, because Poosophagus didn't know the answer himself.
- Subverted in Princess Tutu. After a mysterious spirit kidnaps Mytho, Ahiru races to find him—and is asked riddles along the way. Ahiru, being an Idiot Hero, gets them all wrong, but it turns out that the voice wasn't testing her, but telling her who it was—a lamp.
- Subverted in Azumanga Daioh when Tomo is asking complicated puzzles requiring lateral thinking. Class genius Chiyo is stumped by them, but class space cadet Osaka answers them all without any hesitation.
- In a completely justified example, the entrance exam in Tantei Gakuen Q (Detective Academy Q) is filled with this sort of thing.
- One of the Hunter Exam trials in Hunter × Hunter asks you who you'd choose to save, your mother or your lover. When Gon notices the first guy (who chose the mother) was sent to his death, he realizes no answer is right, and says nothing. Again, no answer is right. They pass.
- In Summer Wars, Kenji solves a 2056 Bit encryption not only on paper but in his head in under a minute bypass lock-outs and other barriers put in his path by Love Machine.
- In Prickly City, Carmen is assured only the smartest people are allowed in an exclusive club.
Films — Live-Action
- Constantly in Lone Wolf, where all your enemies use number problems to protect their stuff. In a gamebook with numbered sections, of course, number puzzles are the easiest to implement, and leave little possibility of cheating for the player. Which made the page randomization given to some editions especially stupid.
- Game Shows examples:
- Often used when giving away prizes to make sure that it's "skill-based" rather than luck-based, even if it's effectively luck-based. Generally the question is very simple, allowing anyone to answer it. There are entire shows based around this which intend to collect money from unwary viewers via premium-charged phone or SMS, giving away only a token prize for the winner. Another possibility is to make an "unsolvable" puzzle, such as "count the money in the picture" (when the answer is finally shown, it is revealed that there were coins in the picture completely obscured by other coins) or "find the names of 3 bands in the letter square" (which is filled with misspelling of popular band names and the answer is 3 obscure bands with nondescript acronym names). Multiple callers can attempt to answer but generally none will succeed, so nobody gets the prize because they weren't "smart" enough.
- In some places (Canada, for example) the law prohibits "gambling" (e.g. a lottery, even if no entry fee is charged) but permits "contests of skill". Apparently, correctly answering "2+2=?" makes it a contest of skill as far as the law is concerned, even if the actual winner is then randomly chosen from the correct entries (i.e. all of them). It is unsure if the law is actually written in such a technical and boneheaded way, or if this is a cargo cult solution to a nonexistent problem by marketroids who assume it is.
- The first episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark?, "The Tale of the Phantom Cab": The woods are haunted by the ghosts of lost hikers and campers who found Dr. Vink's cottage. He would send them to board the Phantom Cab and die in a replica of the same crash that killed the driver. Why? Because none of them (until the two boys in the tale) could answer his riddle: "What has no weight? Can be seen with the naked eye? And if you put it in a barrel, it will make the barrel lighter?" A hole. Other common entities that satisfy this description: fire, "A flashlight beam."
- Stargate Verse
- A simple geometry fact question — not a problem, even, just being able to identify the first six digits of pi and the radius of a circle — guarded an Asgard communication device that would have allowed the populace of a world to speak with their "god" and learn all kinds of things about the Universe in Stargate SG-1. Sort of justified in that Thor didn't want to speak directly with a society until they achieved some kind of scientific knowledge.
The Asgard made a few boo-boos with their test, though. 1: The native that the SG-1 members brought with them (for whom the test was presumably designed) didn't recognise the inscribed runes as numbers, only as letters. It was only Daniel who knew that they were once also used as numbers. 2: In order to divine the inscription's (presumably) correct meaning, the team had to use a large amount of artistic license to improperly fudge numbers from a base-19 absolute numbering system (the runes), into a base-10 positional number system (what we use on modern-day Earth), AND figure out that there should be a decimal point in there. 3: To indicate an understanding of the inscription's meaning, Daniel could have indicated either the diameter of the circle, or a square with sides the length of the circle's radius. Instead, he indicated the circle's radius alone. But hey, it's still a cool concept.
- In "The Tomb", a ruined temple to the Goa'uld Marduk was blocked by a great stone door inscribed with the Babylonian creation myth. Opening the door required pressing the sections of the text that were incorrect, things that in theory only the priests of Marduk would know. Fortunately Daniel Jackson has studied Babylonian mythology and reads the language.
- The Ancients, or at least Merlin, were also fond of using these to guard superweapons. The Dakara Superweapon, built by The Ancients]], capable of wiping out all life in the galaxy, requires only the most basic understanding of Ancient language (two people who had never studied the language solved it by using someone else's notes). All you need to do is arrange letters so they don't form gibberish anymore, and ta-daa; the most powerful weapon in two galaxies is yours! Hey, there's a reason why the Ancients are considered to be the exemplar for Neglectful Precursors.
- Happens in "Avalon" as well, when Daniel has to solve a riddle to figure out which pot contains a gold coin and Mitchell gets stuck trying to translate an Ancient language that was actually just the numbers 1-8 and their mirror images which needed to be put in the correct order.
- Also used during the quest to find the Sangraal. The team had to use four virtues, among them wisdom (in the form of solving riddles) to reach the Sangraal.
- Stargate Atlantis isn't free from jumping through the intellectual hoops either — they just have to do it less often. Such as finding the ZPM by using the numbers 1-9 to make a magic square, part by desperation, part by realizing the significance of the number 15.
- Doctor Who
- "42" has a bunch of locked doors that require trivia questions to open. In theory this is a passcode system, not a puzzle — the crew of the ship in question set the questions with the intent to be the only group who could give all the right answers. Notably, one of them set his favorite color as an answer. However, "the crew's changed since we set the questions," they may have been a little drunk at the pub quiz they got the questions from, and some of them had died horribly, explaining the fact that all the questions aside from the guy's favorite color apparently have to be answered by the Doctor or Martha. Granted, this episode is set far enough in The Future that a question referencing The Beatles is listed in the category of "Classical Music".
- As does the Tomb of Rassilon in The Five Doctors. "Easy as Pi!" It should be noted that the "Easy as Pi" puzzle seems to have no actual real world solution. The Master just strolls across the board initially and the Doctor's solution lacked any explanation.
- "Death to the Daleks" has a test which takes the form of a series of death traps, killing anyone not smart enough to find the solution quickly. The Doctor speculated that people who can pass might have some other knowledge that might benefit the city.
- The Hartnell-era story "The Daleks' Invasion of Earth" contains a particularly nice (or nasty?) example. Human captives of the Daleks are imprisoned in cells aboard their ships. The Doctor examines the door-locking mechanism and works out a way to deactivate it and thus escape. He does, and it turns out that the mechanism is actually an intelligence test - those smart enough to escape their cells are potentially dangerous and are sent to be turned into RoboMen.
- The Cybermen do something similar in the Troughton-era "The Tomb of the Cybermen". Anyone skilled enough in symbolic logic to get into the tombs and awaken the Cybermen, is clearly a good candidate for conversion to a Cyberman.
- In Babylon 5, an alien probe promises to transmit its vast store of knowledge to any species that passes its intelligence test. It's actually a bomb that will destroy the first planet to answer correctly, taking out any up-and-coming civilization that might one day rival its creators.
- Parodied brilliantly in the "talking frog" scene of The 10th Kingdom. "One door leads to safety. One door leads to a horrible death." The heroes then find a new solution...
- Parodied again in The Office (US), where Dwight keeps asking Ryan one logic riddle after the other. Ryan answers them so quickly that Dwight barely has the time to say the first few words before he gives the correct answer.
- A staple of Knightmare.
- Subverted in Double The Fist. The Womp has to get past a pair of "one always lies and the other tells the truth" guardians, but he's Too Dumb to Live and when the increasingly frustrated guards try to explain how the puzzle works the liar accidentally tells the truth, causing his head to explode.
- A common task found on The Amazing Race.
- This happens on Noel Fielding's Luxury Comedy, when Fantasy Man and Chief Woolabum want to cross the river but are stopped by a schizophrenic flag named Bobbatron, who demands the answer to a mind-bogglingly bizarre riddle: "If it takes a year to drink a horse, how long does a Spanish priest have to cry for, when rolling up a hill against a north-facing breeze... bearing in mind that it's winter and dark, and the priest is covered in ball bearings and his own shit?" Naturally they Take a Third Option, pushing Bobbatron into the river and crossing the bridge as if nothing had happened.
- Dr. Nigiri sets one of these as final barrier on his plan to takeover the console in the Pixelface episode "The Problems of Dr. Nigiri". It falls to Sgt. Riley — as the only one not brainwashed — to attempt to solve it.
- Subverted in Time of Tumult, where the players have to select the wrong answer in a classic Knights and Knaves puzzle. Which is fair, since the PCs are navigating a maze specifically designed to kill anyone but the creators and they know it. Only Really Smart People may pass.
- Exalted later plays it straight and justifies it in Under the Rose, which has a section of puzzle-based deathtraps designed by Autochthon, the Great Maker. A side-note mentions that as part of his inhuman mindset, Autochthon is physically unable to design any form of defenses without including puzzle-based deathtraps.
- Discworld Noir looks like it's headed for this when an ancient guardian wants to ask you a riddle to see if you are worthy to receive the MacGuffin. Then come the subversions, first by the guardian who happened to forget the riddle during his 400-year-wait (but still insists to only hand the item to those who answer it) and then by Lewton who points out that someone of the unworthy faction would just hack the weaponless guardian to pieces. As he's in somewhat of a hurry, he gives the guardian the option to hand over the McGuffin — or he'll just pretend to be unworthy enough... The guardian relents.
- Happens a couple of times in Rogue Galaxy — most notable was the gigantic (as in, the size of a skyscraper) Block Puzzle, which the Big Bad had genetically engineered a person specifically to solve. And he still failed. Enter The Hero... As a side note, that may be the only Block Puzzle in history to have its own dramatic Latin choir.
- Super Mario RPG
- Shows up in an irritating section on the SNES. While slogging through Bowser's Castle toward the end, Mario reaches six doors, leading to instances of three kinds of challenges. Two are straight combat, two are platforming action, and two are a gauntlet of dime-store brain teasers, hosted by a green Hammer Brother named "Dr. Topper". On the menu: peg-jumping puzzles, counting games, trivia quizzes about the RPG itself, and an infuriating "Who finished what place in a triathlon?" word problem. You only have to pass four of six doors, but randomly speaking, you'll have to face at least one of them.
- Used a little easier early on, in the Sunken Ship. A series of platforming challenges give nautically themed clues to a six-letter word puzzle to enter the Boss Room. None of the challenges have to be completed, if a player can suss out a fitting word from the given letters. Both the quiz-gauntlet and the word puzzle are relatively simple affairs, but for younger players, they could be pretty stymieing, as they relied on critical thinking and some outside information.
- In both Paper Mario and its sequel, there are puzzles where you're required to answer questions about the game to proceed (or at least, to avoid a tricky boss fight).
- Final Fantasy VI had a very interesting minigame built into the plot, wherein the team has to sit down for dinner with Emperor Ghestal and make small-talk. Several questions are asked of the player, for toasts and such, most of which offer three possible answers: sucking-up, magnanimous, and vindictive. He also answers questions about some plot-points, and then quizzes on which one was asked first. The game goes on through the dinner no matter what; since it's not possible to "lose", it's not exactly a critical puzzle, but "winning" nets the player lots of nice rewards. The puzzle is figuring out the right answers - each has a score attached to it, with the rewards based on the total earned. The answer isn't entirely obvious from the context, but the Emperor is trying really hard to apologize, so you want to take the magnanimous answers, because you don't to degrade his apology, and you don't want to be rude at a dinner party.
- Parodied in the PS1 game Shadow Madness; at one point, the heroes encounter a talking stone mouth located in a crypt that's been unoccupied for centuries. When it tells them to answer three questions in order to pass, one of the heroes asks why, to which it responds with, "You'd be bored too if you were me, honey."
- Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
- Arithmetic puzzles get used for everything from decryption to demolitions.
- The trivia questions both the ancient Rakatans and Darth Revan used to cover the tracks to their secret base. There's also a Shmuck Bait sidequest that is solved by winning a riddle contest with a prisoner stuck in a mind trap.
- Several puzzles in KOTOR are in fact classic puzzles given a more context appropriate reskin. The damaged extractor control system on the water planet is the same "measure 4 liters using only a 3 liter and a 5 liter container" seen in Die Hard 3, while the Sith tomb's energy ring transfer puzzle is really a jazzed up Towers of Hanoi.
- The Brotherhood of Shadow game mod has a wicked one. A Czerka employee was trying to seal off the mining tunnels from his crazed co-workers. He set up a system requiring accessing several terminals in succession and answering questions about "basic galactic history" (read: lore from the Star Wars Expanded Universe) in order to open the doors.
- In King's Quest VI, in order to get anywhere beyond a small beach on the Isle of the Sacred Mountain, you have to bypass a little obstacle aptly called the "Cliffs of Logic". Actually, that the Cliffs are an ancient test of intelligence is only the in-character explanation; out of character, the game practically demands you look up the solution in the guidebook that came with it.
- Professor Layton is a game series that is made completely out of these things. Penny Arcade parodies it, suggesting it's a "Logic Opera": "every person you meet breaks into "puzzle" the way that Viking ladies tend to break into song, out of nowhere." The first game in the series, Professor Layton and the Curious Village, actually turns out to have invoked the trope: a guy deliberately set up all the puzzles to test the intelligence of those seeking his treasure.
- Becomes literally so as in every single game there is a guard of some sort preventing you from entering the dungeon(s) if you haven't completed a certain number of soup can puzzles, and you thought you could ignore the hard ones and only miss out on 100% Completion!
- In the Azran Legacy game, there's the Azran tombs where you have to solve the ball-rolling puzzles to get from room to room. Did Hershel never think to jump over that hole? No? How about follow Randy, who's pushing the balls? No? Only the ridiculously idiotic intelligent may pass, it would seem here.
- Used to a ridiculous extent at the otherwise fantastically written Xenosaga series.
- Shows up in the mad Finster's mind in Wasteland; you do have to get these right. Note that this guy's not exactly sane, and the fact that you're wandering in his brain with laser machine guns trying to kill him isn't helping his mental state much.
- Subverted in Diamond / Pearl. One Gym presents you with three doors and a mathematical question - you go through the door associated with the correct answer. The thing is, the questions are so easy - and the main character is even given a calculator right at the start of the game - that the trainers who battle you behind the incorrect doors assume you deliberately got the answers wrong. One girl is pleased that you decided to battle her; another cheerfully agrees with your 'battle everyone' philosophy; and one boy complains 'why don't you just answer the questions properly?'. Then there's the last question: "What was the answer to the first question?" If you weren't really paying attention because the questions were so easy, you'll likely get it wrong.
- And played straight in the rest of the games. Of note, the second-last Gym of the first generation has a series of doors that can only be opened by answering a series of general-knowledge questions pertaining to the Pokemon world. Failure to answer correctly results in you having to fight the trainers guarding the doors — and since they give extra experience and cash anyway, why tax your brain? It's subverted however, because the questions are for those who don't want to battle the trainers. You don't even need to answer the questions. Talk to the trainers to battle them and the door automatically opens if you win, whether you answered the question or not.
- Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals does this a lot. Like, every floor of every dungeon, cave, castle, tower or mansion is littered with puzzles of all sorts that you must complete to open doors. It gets so extreme that one can reasonably argue that Lufia II is a puzzle game with a large story and RPG-elements in it.
- There is also a secret room in one of the later dungeons that has "the hardest puzzle in the world" which involves sliding platforms around and around for about 20-ish rounds, until you have the platform with the treasure chests filled with neat loot in front of you.
- In the Interactive Fiction game Gateway, you need to solve a puzzle to get to the first Heechee device. The puzzle ("which of these is not like the others") was put there so the species on the planet in question couldn't get at the device before they became smart enough. Hence, Only Smart People May Pass, which was its point.
- Subverted in Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories, in which a minor boss in the Inevitable Tournament tries to challenge the heroes with the mother of all geo puzzles, causing the page quote from Tink in regards to Idiot Hero Adell. Adell takes one glance at the puzzle and states its correct solution without missing a beat, freaking out the puzzle creator and the rest of the heroes. Of course, to the player the real puzzle is getting to the solution that Adell pointed out. It's at the end of a maze of No Entry panels guarded by monsters. Although if you have enough range on your spells (which depends on how many times you've cast it before) you can hit it from the starting position.
- In MediEvil, the player can only gain entrance to the Asylum after answering a number of riddles "so perplexingly complex that no man has ever solved them" posed by Jack of the Green. Interestingly, the puzzles themselves are fairly easy to figure out, except for perhaps the last one. The real problem is in figuring out how you're meant to answer them.
- More or less reversed in Amiga game The Chaos Engine (Soldiers of Fortune on consoles) which features fairly inventive puzzles which can only be interacted with by shooting them. In rooms full of enemies. Often, you'll have solved the puzzle without ever noticing it existed.
- Used over and over again in Tales of Eternia, the first Tales game with the bright, involved, and unique sort of puzzles that also contributed to Tales of Symphonia being the hit it was. And then, without warning, subverted at the beginning of Volt's ruins: the Smart Guy Keele has been left behind, so while the rest of your party is busy scratching their heads and staring at the obtuse riddle on the front gate, Max walks up to the door and body-slams it down. The rest of the dungeon, of course, is full of puzzles, but damn if the scene wasn't hilarious.
- In The World Ends with You, on the 4th day of the third week, you are boxed off by invisible walls and to open up these walls, you need to open up special boxes, which won't open unless you solve puzzles involving defeating specific Noise symbols. Additionally, to obtain the Secret Reports, you are required to get hidden items as part of your objectives, and are given cryptic hints as to where to find them, such as "Meet up with the secret" (examine the Statue of Hachiko) and "SHOWN A DREAM" (anagram of "Shadow Ramen," a restaurant where you will find one of the hidden items). Also, some of the clues as to the daily objectives (mostly in week 2) are rather cryptic. Mind you, the characters manage to work them out, saving the player from the extra thought in those cases, at least.
- The Myst series ran on this trope. The D'ni people in general were enamored of puzzle games, and Atrus picked up on it quickly when taken to the ruined city. Lampshaded in a parody of Revelation, by a frustrated Stranger working on the fireplace puzzle:
"I mean, does he [Atrus] not mind people breaking in as long as they have an IQ of 150 and brilliant abstract logic skills? No wonder this place is always being smashed up by twisted geniuses seeking revenge on the entire family..."
- In Anachronox, to board the shuttle to Sunder (a Planet of Hats populated by scientists), the heroes must pass the Brain Bouncer, who demands explanations of complex scientific theories to ensure that the hopeful passenger really is a scientist of high caliber. This is then parodied when your helpful robotic buddy downloads the entire galactic scientific database into his memory, and you have to pretend to speak a language that the bouncer doesn't, so your robo-buddy can helpfully "translate" for you. Of course, there are two additional (humorous) swerves: the bouncer speaks all known languages (forcing you to "invent" a language), and at one point, after provided an answer that can be as short as three sounds and as long a twelve sounds, your robo-buddy prattles on for long enough that the scene fades out.
- Resident Evil. At least in the 4th one, why does a scientific lab require you to manipulate chess pieces to open a locked door? No one knows. The series handwaves it by saying that Spencer, the man who designed the mansion, was insane and paranoid.
- Portal. The puzzles at the beginning exist not to test the Portal Gun, but to see whether Chell is smart enough to use it.
- Silent Hill
- The franchise has a lot of this, but Silent Hill 3 stretches it into true absurdity with a puzzle requiring an astoundingly thorough knowledge of the works of Shakespeare to pass (on Hard mode). Of course, it's Silent Hill we're talking about here — making sense is purely optional and any puzzle that can be explained with sufficiently elaborate Epileptic Trees (like, say, a 20 page forum debate between fans who have memorized the game) is obviously logically sound by the laws of the place.
- There's also quite a few verbal puzzles in the game that are obscenely simple if you're familiar with the source. The source may be a common Japanese nursery rhyme that makes it impossible for American audiences to solve without some sort of reference, or aspects of American culture that seem blatantly obvious to us but are downright Insane Troll Logic to the original Japanese audience. Which, given the whole confusing nature of the series, may be entirely intentional.
- The Zelda series is built off this trope. Forget fighting monsters, the meat of the dungeons is pushing around blocks in a grand scaled puzzle box to get to the macguffin. In The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, there is a point where Wolf Link, trying to enter the sacred grove that houses the Master Sword, is confronted by two malevolent-seeming statues. The statues explain that if he can get them back onto the spots where they're supposed to be standing, he can enter. Since the one of the statues will mimic his movements and the other will do the opposite, he has to jump around in the correct sequence to get them to shift onto the indicated squares and thus open the door.
- The Kingdom of Loathing does this with the Altar of Literacy that people have to pass to gain access to the chat. Its trials include typing a sentence and answering the "unspeakably difficult" trivia question "What colour was George Washington's favorite white horse?" Even though it's meant to be a comical RPG in general, it is an unspeakably good idea.
- Possibly Trauma Center: New Blood, where to escape a pit filling with water, the two doctors and nurse that have refused to help the Big Bad, they have to solve a complicated puzzle and "connect the four friends," meaning they connect the pegs that match in color to each other. It's surprisingly difficult, which is explained by the puzzle apparently being popular among college students and the like. If you don't solve in time, they all drown.
- In Valkyrie Profile there is an Egyptian-themed pyramid dungeon, in which the Sphinx presents the famous riddle to Lady Valkyrie. Her reply is simply "..." and she is allowed to pass.
- This is the central premise behind the gameplay of Another Code: For some unfathomable reason, the designers of the mansion on Blood Edward Island thought that it would be more efficient to use logic puzzles instead of keys or handles. The most prominent example I can think of is the riddle square you need to open to get out the medallion that lets you get the key from the bird statue in the hall.
- Brain Lord is Exactly What It Says on the Tin, and EVERY that doesn't involve 'kill all enemies in the room' will genuinely test your reasoning ability....or patience, if you go for trial and error.
- In the game Brothers Pilots, a fridge is locked by a puzzle. After you open it, a cat comes out and opens the door your characters were unable to open by simply pushing it (your characters try to pull it). Apparently, solving this puzzle was simpler than opening an unlocked door.
- Subverted in Planescape: Torment: the night hag Ravel Puzzlewell asks everyone who seeks her out the sphinx-like question, "What can change the nature of a man?", then tortures and kills everyone who gives the wrong answer. Turns out she wasn't looking for a particular answer, she was interested in the response of a particular person, that of her former lover. The Nameless One's "best ending" has him stating that many things can change the nature of a man. Belief, regret, love, etc. Then he gets to revive all his companions (except the evil pyromaniac mage) and say goodbye before enlisting in the Bloodwar.
- Baldur's Gate II has several such moments. The oddest riddle is one that makes sense as game dialogue but would be quite horrible if someone actually came to you and spoke it like this:
A princess is as old as the prince will be when the princess is twice as old as the prince was when the princess' age was half the sum of their present age. Which of the following, then, could be true: the prince is 20 and the princess is 30, the prince is 40 and the princess is 30, the prince is 30 and the princess is 40, the prince is 30 and the princess is 20, or, they are both the same age?
- The prince is 30, the princess is 40. Could in fact be any age with the same ratio.
- In Exile II, to address the Vahnatai Council you must complete two out of three tests: the Test of Strength (a series of combats), the Test of Speed (outrunning a wall of quickfire), and the Test of Mind (word games, math puzzles, riddles, and a maze). You might suspect that most players would skip the latter. In the remake, Avernum 2, the Test of Mind was replaced with the Test of Patience (a Block Puzzle).
- Banjo-Kazooie's final level is a board game. It practically lampshades this trope, asking questions about various events in the game as well as matching sound effects and jingles to what they mean.
- Dragon Age: Origins
- In the Dragon Age II DLC Mark of the Assassin, the vaults of Chateau Haine are like this. Normal people keep their valuables safe with locks and, perhaps, guards. Duke Prosper prefers to use puzzles.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation: ”A Final Unity: The room guarding the Fifth Scroll.
- Killer7 has a number of strange puzzles in bizarre and unlikely places. Of course, considering the game we're talking about, words like "strange" and "bizarre" are highly relative...
- Castle Of Dr Brain is built on this, with plenty of puzzles, labyrinths and other challenges. However, the doctor isn't trying to keep you out, just test you to see if you're good enough to become his assistant.
- Likewise, Quest for Glory IV has Dr. Cranium (supposedly an ancestor of Dr. Brain), whose lab is behind four different puzzles, though all but one are interconnected. Unlike his descendant though, Cranium just wants his privacy and is sufficiently impressed when you enter.
- The dwarf logic puzzles in Darklands are built on this. (With one exception, which due to writer error is a Guide Dang It.)
- Guild Wars
- In Guild Wars: Nightfall, the Dasha Vestibule mission has a room with six pedestals with composite numbers and four with primes. The player must chose two composite numbers such that all four primes are factors of one of the chosen numbers.
- Used as a joke in the "Elusive Golemancer" mission in Guild Wars: Eye of the North. "We designed the traps to keep less intelligent creatures out. We Asura have no problems with them. You, um, you should be fine. Yeah. You'll be just fine."
- In Dead Space 2, the Marker tests all that it comes into contact with by transmitting a signal that either drives people insane or gives them the knowledge they would need to create a new Marker.
- In the early games, this is character-based instead of player based, with Intelligence attribute checks, or various skill checks. Ironically, some story quests are actually much easier if your character is extremely stupid since the quest givers will realize that you are to too dumb to complete them and will do it themselves.
- In Fallout 3 a sidequest in what's left of the Smithsonian requires you to answer trivia questions on American history to open a safe containing some loot.
- Drawn: The Painted Tower and its sequel Dark Flight are this in their entireties.
- Shining the Holy Ark has a puzzle involving weights and scales before you can enter the dungeon proper. Also it has the infamous stone puzzle.
- In X3: Terran Conflict, the New Home plot involves a three-part Hacking Minigame. You have to break a four-digit code, then solve a sudoku. The third part is inputting a code you put together from clues throughout the plot.
- Final Fantasy
- In Final Fantasy X-2, there's a minigame called "Sphere Break". This game revolves around using coins to come up with various combinations of numbers with multiplication and addition. Finding the coins in the game proper is fairly easy, as you just wander around playing the desert minigame until you find the coins you need. But the Sphere Break game itself requires quick mental math, something that no amount of grinding or walkthroughs will ever prepare you for. And to add insult to injury, some of the game's best Accessories, as well as a few Garment Grids and the Lady Luck Dressphere, can only be won by playing and/or winning Sphere Break matches, not to mention that the minigame itself can be abused for item farming.
- Final Fantasy XIII-2 has the temporal rifts, which offer you one of three puzzles; Tile Trial, Crystal Bonds, or the Hands of Time. Tile Trial is fairly painless, but the harder Crystal Bonds tend to demand very quick reflexes, memorization, and a bit of luck. As for Hands of Time...well, it's the only one that isn't mandatory to complete the game, and when you attempt one, you'll see why. Etro help you if you decide to go for 100% Completion, because you have to solve several of them, often going up to thirteen numbers.
- Fatal Frame fell into this a bit in the first game, in which several doors were locked with numerical combination locks. This wouldn't be so bad (the combinations are hidden in various notebooks and diaries hidden around the mansion), except that the lock itself has the numbers written in kanji and in an archaic arrangement (counterclockwise with "zero" in the top position). Only a minor example for Japanese players, but for Western players this is Guide Dang It territory (at the very least, much harder than the developers intended the puzzle to be). Fortunately, the Xbox remake addressed this by changing the lock to feature numerals rather than kanji.
- In Conquests Of Camelot, there were several Copy Protection-type puzzles which required not only having the manual but correctly interpreting it as well. One part early in the game played this more straight, featuring a magic barrier that could be passed only after talking to some stones and solving the riddles they gave you.
- Used on you (as the Faceless Protagonist) in Dark Tales: Murders in the Rue Morgue. When you first meet Detective Dupin so that you might solve the murder together, he puts you through your paces, solving a series of puzzles in and around his house. He wants to make sure you're up to the task before he lets you come with him.
- Live A Live has the Intelligence Dungeon in the final stage. You're only allowed to challenge it if you have Cube in your party, otherwise you are merely told "those who rely on strength may not enter here".
- There are a handful in Avencast: Rise of the Mage: two requiring the player to figure out biographical information at the subjects' tombs and another only allowing access to an art exhibit to someone smart enough to reconstruct an artwork.
- Ace Attorney
- The series in general is this, with the player either having to find clues, assess evidence, question witnesses or create theories as to how something happened. Only a lawyer (and smart player) is capable of these tasks.
- In the fourth game, Apollo has to figure out how a professional magician pulled off one of his illusions. Not for any relevant reason, but because The Judge has decided that he wants to know how it was done, and that he wants Apollo to explain it to him. Once he understands, they continue with the actual trial.
- High IQ Societies, like MENSA, require an IQ of at least 130 to join.
- This is the point of the technical interview for information technology jobs. The interviewers will give you programming-related logic puzzles to solve and they consider how you attempt to solve these relatively basic problems to assess how well you might handle more complex coding work. This has been subverted in that a lot of the "standard" questions have been spoiled by now, so it effectively becomes a test whether you're clever enough to use Google to prepare beforehand or not. Of course, in a lot of real world situations, reinventing the wheel is a bad thing. Figuring out that someone else has probably already solved the problem and finding and using their solution is likely to be a lot faster than working it out yourself, making it a decent screening test again, if not for the reason the interviewer intends.
- Extremely difficult subjects are this.
- Graduate school oral exams (and, to a lesser extent, the dissertation defense) are pretty much this, since the committee can, theoretically, ask you anything related to the subject in question.
- Standardized testing for law school often includes logic problems that challenge the applicants' ability to reason out evidence and follow deductive trains of thought.
- Doing well on the MCAT (Medical Colleges Admission's Test) in the United States requires both extensive knowledge of biology, physics, chemistry, and organic chemistry as well as excellent reasoning, reading, and composition skills. Pretty much everyone taking the exam has a college degree, most of them in biology or chemistry, and had to do very well to bother taking the exam. Two-thirds of the test-takers will not get into med school.