Interesting. If I understand correctly, you are pointing out that a game is also, in part, “exploration”, and the very concept of exploration means that you are looking everywhere without a precise idea what you are looking for. The very purpose is to discover what is out there. So, it would not make sense to complain “how was I supposed to know that I needed to go there, to make the story continue?”. You did not need a reason to go there. You are supposed to go everywhere, it’s how the game works. It is an implicit contract between the player and the game, that you accept to be stuck until you have gone everywhere (and opened all drawers, and asked everybody about everything, and so on).
If this is what you mean, it makes sense. (A contract is a contract.) However, this is a delicate matter: I am not sure that a game that requires you to explore everything without telling you what you are looking for would be a good game. Without giving you a precise objective. In fact, I have recently raised doubts about this in another post. I said “I can’t put my finger on it but, for a game to work, your objective needs to be clear, and the objective can’t simply be “see if someone knows something about X”. For some reason, the objective “find a way to enter the governor house” is ok to me, but the objective “see if someone knows something about X” is not ok.”
Why is the second objective not ok to me? I think this is because it is equivalent to “try everything with everything”. If the designer tells you that you need to “see if someone knows something about X”, it is like he was telling you to use the “mouth” with everything. And this (for me of course) does not work. For one, why did he not simply do a cutscene where the character does this automatically? Why force me to try everything with everything?
From another point of view: we should establish an equivalence: to say that
“the game requires you to do something you have no reason to do”
is equivalent to
“the game requires you to try everything with everything”.
I see no real difference. (if you don’t see why talking to everyone is equivalent to trying everything with everything, just think of it as combining the mouth with every character. Similarly, a game that requires you to walk everywhere is basically requiring you to combine the feet with everything)
So, at first glance, it seems hard to defend a game that requires you to “try everything with everything”. True, if there are few objects or characters, such a game is not automatically flawed, as you pointed out. But still it is natural to ask why they did not simpy put a cutscene that did this automatically…