Riddles/puzzles - do they work?

I’ve been wondering. Does anyone use riddles or puzzles in their stories or have you played a game in which you had to do this kind of thing? As in, for example, you need to solve a riddle to be able to open a door and progress on the story.
How do you help the reader to solve the riddle without making the answer obvious in a choice??

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What did you have in mind?

There’s a couple of ways to do riddles in choicescript:

Using the input command with if to check the answer is the most common one. Its used for wordscrambling, number input etc.

You can also use the random function to hide clues around an area.


There’s lots of riddles in The Dyrad’s Puzzle

I believe they used text inputs and put a few rules down for the player like don’t capitalize the first letter

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I’m just playing with ideas here, but the game I’ve been working on (still my test game, to apply what I’ve been learning about CS) is set on a cave (kinda like a D&D dungeon, I guess?) and there’s traps and things you have to collect in order to move on.
And I kind of wanted to make the reader solve some sort of riddle in order to open the exit door, but I have no clue how to do that.

I imagined that one of the corridors would have a secret message hidden on the walls that the reader could find upon further inspection and it would be in a secret language. And then in one of the rooms there would be a book that the reader could use to decipher the code on the wall. And that would be a riddle for the last room. I imagined it would have some statues and you’d have to find a hidden key or button to open the door by inspecting a specific statue.

Now these are the options that come to mind as to how to do this:

  • I could just make a list of choices with all the statues in it and the reader could go through all of them until they found the right one. - this seems absolutely boring and honestly just wrong.

  • I could make a list of the statues and the reader had the oportunity to pick one. If they picked the right one, they’d be out. But if they picked the wrong one, something bad would happen and the game would be over. - this could work in my game, since there are plenty of ways one could die throughout the whole story… But somehow, the idea of getting all the way to the end only to die makes me think that people would just hate me and my game because it’s so frustrating…

  • I could tell them more or less what the riddle means and give them the opportunity to do a few things around the room including checking the right statue. - this sounds like cheating because the answer would be quite obvious, unless I do that whole die-if-you-choose-wrong thing.

So yeah. I’m not quite sure how to do this. Are there any other ways to make this work?

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I will definitely check that! Thanks!

How did I not think of wordscrambling? That’s a good one!

I absolutely need to read more on the random function, I honestly have been postponing it for a while now…

By “make this work” do you mean make your idea functional, or do you mean make it so the audience likes it, or both, or something else/more?

Is there another way to make this idea functional that I’m not thinking about?

Also (I’m not really sure how to put this, but I’m going to try), if you want to use the input function for a riddle answer, it’s better if the answer is just a word or a number, right? Because otherwise I’m guessing it gets too difficult to check for the right answer given all the phrasing possibilities…

And besides choices and input text, are there any other ways to present the reader with riddles and puzzles?


Chirping in, Lone Wolf Saga used “mathematical puzzle” in most of its puzzle sections (the left arm of the scale has 3 bricks. The other has 2 rocks. Which one is heavier? kind of stuff). Often times, they’re related to optional content that grant you secret stuff later in the story.

And there’re also… not necessarily a puzzle, rather a “key to unlock the door.” They key can be found by meticulously exploring every pages of the book, thus rewards those who read most of the book on a single playthrough. Granted, it’s a gamebook and you can easily cheat it out.

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There are numerous ways to do this. Design, however, is part of the challenge. If you can find a way to make it fun for yourself, then the idea is that others will find it fun as well. So, ask yourself, what kinds of puzzles or riddles would you want to solve? Once you have an answer to that, you should be on track.

I’ve got some minor puzzles in my game. The set-up is that they have to get through the realm of a god very quickly, by appeasing it or bypassing it or whatever. I felt the “fairest” way to do it was to give them all the information they need about the god and then give them a selection of options. If they pick wrong, I then provide a sentence or two of explanation why they were wrong.

Which comes in handy later on considering they have to do the puzzles more than once! Things start to change after the first go around, actually. It gets weird.

Anyway the point is, give your players full information and make the most interesting part of the puzzle the puzzle, not the solution.

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If you want another example, Oedipus Rex uses 2 out of a pool of 6 riddles with the Sphinx. I’ve got a hint system (and tracks for if you fail to choose correctly.) Pretty sure I included it in the demo that’s up here. You’re welcome to take a look at the coding for ideas on one way of setting this sort of thing out if you want.


I love riddles! I am currently incorporating one into a game and it’s a bit of a tricky one. One thing I do to help them is if they have high intelligence, I make the MC think it out a bit like I would trying to explain it gradually to someone. Kind of like a flow chart but leave it hanging somewhere in the middle to let them figure it out.

If they don’t have high enough intelligence, they are on their own. But they get two attempts and if they fail both, they just can’t get access to that area, so it’s not a game-changer. And they can always come back to try again.

That’s interesting. I’ve been trying to incorporate a stats system in my game in which certain choices give you extra points in certain stats, which then give you some advantage in certain tasks you have to perform.
And while typing this out I thought of another option to do this. Maybe I could find a way for them to access that area using different stats, like intelligence for the riddle or strength to push a heavy boulder or something, instead of relying so much on that one right answer.

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Including riddles in a game is really simple when you know how. For the Dryad’s Riddle, I would use a code like this:

*temp Answer

Who's the black private dick, that's a sex machine to all the chicks?

*input_text Answer
*if ("$!!{Answer}" = "SHAFT")
  *goto Correct
  *goto Incorrect

*label Correct

You're damn right!

*label Incorrect

He's a complicated man, but no one understands him but his woman.

Definitely. Let’s take this riddle, for example:

Q: A man fell off of a 30-foot ladder, but he didn’t get hurt at all. How is this possible?

A. He fell off the bottom step.

Now, there are several different ways that the player might answer this:

  • He fell off the bottom step.
  • He fell off the last step.
  • He fell from the bottom step.
  • He was on the bottom step.
  • They fell off the bottom step.

Ect, ect… You’d have to think of every possible way the player could answer this, and code each of them as the correct answer.


Another option I can think of is to make it so that there’s something specific the player needs to do in order to get the statue to reveal the key, and until the player figures out exactly what it is they need to do, they’re stuck in the room.

Kind of like the old point and click adventure games, where you have a bunch of items and a bunch of different things that you can use the item on… You can get stuck using random objects with other random objects for hours before you realize you were supposed to use the rubber chicken with a pully in the middle to get across the cable. :yum:

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I think I read that somewhere before, but I can’t seem to find it again anymore, so I’m just going to ask you directly. Why did you use “$!!” there? Specifically, why the two exclamation marks instead of just one?

By the way, thank you for sharing this, it’s really helpful.

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Because it makes whatever they typed in all caps.

Let’s say the answer is “EARTH” but they typed in “Earth” or “earth” or “EaRtH” or any horrid combination of upper and lower case. If you change their answer to all caps, it’s really easy to check if it’s the right one.