My first article for The Escapist is now available for your reading pleasure! Let your friends know. Tell your grandmother. Ask your cat to retweet it.
Oh, and read it!
To be honest I got the feeling you describe from the original Infinite Ocean, and though the puzzles were much easier and hence didn’t stump me, to an extent from the new version. Museum and Desert Bridge were both a lot better in that regard, though.
Zork: Grand Inquisitor has a puzzle similar to the one you imagine. It’s also a clever piece of characterization. At one point, you inhabit the body of a Brogmoid, a colossally strong and stupid creature. He opens a boarded-up door by pulling off the planks with his bare hands. Later, he encounters a complex puzzle that’s like a cross between chess and an orrery. The solution? Repeatedly bludgeon it with one of the planks until the treasure at the center falls out.
Katie Williams seems to agree. http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/issues/issue_284/8426-Puzzling-Worlds
I really liked your article, and I’ve had the same problem many times. A specific example is in Frictional Game’s Penumbra: Overture (which I will highly recommend before I stop sounding like an ad) where there was a gate with a board on it. I threw exploding barrels over the fence and set them off, threw dynamite under the board, and whacked it with both a pickaxe and a hammer before trying the saw in my inventory. Overall I still had fun :/.
Now to bed. Something’s nagging at me to say more, but I can’t think of it. Maybe I’ll remember.
@PAK: I (obviously) disagree. To me, every aspect of the form of The Infinite Ocean is meant to represent something about the story, and so solving puzzles has a context. The very existence of the puzzles is a plot point, and in both versions I thought long and hard about how to present these aspects of the game.
But I can see that not everyone will agree on this, and the puzzle/obstacle definition is not meant to be an absolute system of categorization.
@Gregory: I always wanted to play Zork: Grand Inquisitor, never got the chance to. Now there’s another reason to figure out a way of playing it some day.