“Hard Puzzle 4” was actually near the top of my randomly-generated review queue. It’s a clever, well-crafted game, and my reluctance to spoil it with hints or walkthroughs has caused me to push it further down the stack several times.

Gameplay: As the title implies, the game is a difficult puzzlefest with a complicated overarching puzzle. The game strikes a balance between difficulty and approachability; although its main puzzle is very involved, it’s something that the player can approach and experiment with (as in, for example, the babel fish puzzle from Infocom’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy game), instead of something that requires a single flash of insight 7/10.

Mechanics: The puzzles (or components of the main puzzle) are legitimately difficult, and solving them is satisfying accordingly. The game provides debugging verbs to the player, and my expectation on starting the game was that they would be the single mechanic behind the game’s solution; it’s actually much more complicated than that. 8/10.

Presentation: The game is a puzzlefest with strong puzzles, and it’s worth the time it takes to solve. Using the debugging verbs is a clunkier than it needs to be (e.g., handling the exit command), but gameplay is largely smooth. The one significant problem I found was a crash caused by commanding a character to take a certain action with the stool in the game. (Although it’s related to the ostensible debugging verbs of the game, I don’t think it was deliberate.) 6/10.

You might be interested in this game if: You’ve played the other games in the Hard Puzzle series.

Score: 7

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