QfG5: Stuck

So, I need to build a hot air balloon. That much is abundantly clear. It’s not a stated requirement of the next Rite, which just asks me to reach Delos Island somehow, but I’ve received so many conversational nudges from NPCs that it’s pretty obvious how I have to get there.

This is the point where I got stuck when I was playing as a Fighter, and the reason I started over as a Wizard. Over the course of that second play-through (actually third, because I started over as a Fighter first), I found some more objects that are probably balloon components, but I’m still stymied as to putting it all together. So I may start playing a Thief soon, hoping that the new NPCs — such as the local Thieves’ Guild representative — will give me better hints.

There’s actually one other option I’m considering. I’ve established that some of the tests, at least, are skippable. If I just go to the inn and sleep for a few days, maybe Elsa will make her way to Delos and win this portion of the Rite, and I won’t have to. Then I can finish the game, and then go back and look at what resources I didn’t use. Those will be the ones I need for the puzzle I didn’t solve.

This approach has served me well in other adventure games with similar structures. Spellcasting 301, for example, which also consists of a series of time-limited competitive tests. Or, more notably, one of the harder parts of Beyond Zork — not a competitive-test-based game, but similar to QfG5 in that it’s an Adventure/RPG hybrid — was a series of puzzles to find the Pheehelm, an artifact that boosts its wearer’s intelligence. I was unable to figure that part out, but I knew that the only reason you really needed the Pheehelm was that you needed that intelligence boost to use a certain other item. So I started over with a new character, putting as many points into Intelligence as I could from the start, hoping that I wouldn’t need the Pheehelm as a result. It worked, and after I had won the game that way, I knew exactly what items I needed to solve the bits I skipped, which made it all much easier.

I think there’s a general principle to be gleaned here: being able to skip puzzles and come back to them later is a good thing. If I can solve something that I formerly found unsolvable, I feel very clever. By contrast, if I can’t skip a puzzle and have to resort to a walkthrough to see the rest of the game, I feel stupid, and, being unwilling to admit that I am stupid, I blame the author. This is really just the old argument in favor of nonlinearity, but what we have in this game is a peculiar sort of semilinearity that works just as well, and perhaps better.

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