Originally Posted by Rather Dashing
I really dislike the idea of open-ended, multiple-solution puzzles. At first, they seem like a cool idea. But it's a kind of "on paper" thing.
More solutions means the puzzle is easier, and it's more logical to just try things rather than think about them, because it's more likely that you can just stumble on one of the answers. Take, for instance, Scribblenauts. Its puzzles aren't really puzzles, because you have such a wide variety of solutions that any challenge comes from the game not doing what you told it to do.
I see where you're coming from. And yes, there is a lot of pitfalls when doing open ended puzzles.
However when done right it can be very interesting and rewarding for the player simply because gameplay now is based around actually trying to figure out what to do, instead of figuring out how to do something you already know must be done (like opening a sack of flour).
A good example of this done right (not saying Telltale should do it this way) is a game called "return to mysterious island". It was a game with cheesy story, horrible dialogue and lame cutscenes. Still it gained almost a cult-classic status within the hardcore adventuregame communities, and for one reason: Inventory puzzles was actually fun. I mean really fun, the kind of fun where you were actively entertained for hours just staring at the inventory screen (now picture that kind of puzzle solving fun together with a good story and gameworld!). What the game basically did was giving you simple objectives like: repair the bridge, kill snake or find food. Then you would go around collecting literally hundreds of inventory items which all had some kind of use if you could figure out what, most items had several uses. Items could be combined together to make new items like a fishing rod (and there was many ways to make a fishing rod, using different items), and they could be dismembered later if you needed the items for other uses. All items were useful, but far from all were required. This made you actually think about what you where doing, because it was impossible to guess the answer (there was litterally millions of combinations between all the items and hotspots). But most of all, it was simply pure fun to experiment with combining different items and "build" stuff for later use.
Another game doing open ended puzzles was Riven. Here the puzzles solutions themselves where linear, there was only one way to solve a puzzle. But the game itself, and where you got the answers you needed to do the puzzles where exstremely open ended (to the point where it got confusing). This made many people dropp off, but those that did get through all had a different story to tell about how they figured out the puzzles (or should I say puzzle). The puzzle itsef was actually kind of easy, but you had to litteraly understand and "get" the world around you in order to figoure out the solution, not many did. Riven was a very very hard game because of this openess, but it was also very satisfying for those that got through. Not very telltaley material to be honest
But I'm getting off topic here and I'm not saying future telltale games should be exactly like this or that, actually they should not. I'm just saying there is IMO a very interesting and untapped potential in looking into more "open ended" puzzle games. Even for episodic games with a strict linear story