The "Escape from the sewers" puzzle


I’ve always had a bad feeling with this puzzle.

That’s because, before the last build, the two agents couldn’t talk each other.

The agent down there could see the graffiti with the name of the person to call in an emergency, but couldn’t communicate with the agent up there, the one who could check the phonebook.

So solving the puzzle is a matter of telepathy between the two agents!

I think that the puzzle could be made better now that the agents can have a dialogue through the manhole.

After the agent in the sewers sees the graffiti, a new dialogue line appears to communicate to the partner the name to look up the phonebook.
So when the agent comes back to the manhole he/she can reveal the number to call to the trapped partner. Or, if the agent up has a cell phone in its inventory, he/she can call for help directly.
To prevent a telepathic shortcut (the player solves the puzzle in the old fashion) the agent down the sewers could refuse to use the phone if he/she has not discovered the right number to call through dialogue with the partner.
Maybe he/she, when asked to use the public phone, could say something like “I don’t want to risk to waste my dime calling a random number”.

What do you think of this? I know it’s a bit complicated, but I have to confess that the telepathy puzzle always seemed awkward to me.

FI agree with you that it felt weird. In my case, my wife had to tell me the solution. Even then I complained to her, “but only he knows the name!”

I have mentioned this in the past, and Mr. Gilbert’s response is that such knowledge is in the player and that it would complicate the game greatly if the player could not employ his omniscient knowledge. Not to mention that it would feel contrived at most times.

That’s a very reasonable point, although I’m not completely convinced it is the right answer in all cases. I think there are just a couple of puzzles in the game, one of which is the sewer one, which could benefit from maintaining the 4th-wall and providing a genuine diegetic way of conveying information across characters.

Your suggestion for this puzzle, for example, seems reasonable to me. I wouldn’t prevent the player from using his omniscience if he chooses to – I just wouldn’t require it, trying to keep it within the story.


Zak McKracken had a solution for this problem. Annie tells Zak that they´re able to communicate via their dreams. So for instance the girls on mars know what buttons to push to open the door to the face after Zak saw the tribal dance etc.

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Yes, but Ray and Reyes don’t seem so… intimate to me :slight_smile:

Anyway, I think that all the chain of actions needed to solve the puzzle in the way I suggested -though complicated- can be fun, cause it’s a way to make the character cooperate. And, adding de facto a new puzzle, makes the escape even more challenging.

Maybe, if I were a dev, I’d keep the telepathy option for the casual mode

Haven´t you seen the X-Files? You could cut that chemistry with a knife!:stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

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I have accepted the fact that there is an additional virtual character, the player, who has all the knowledge necessary to proceed. It really doesn’t matter to me which game character does what, because they share a common conscience/knowledge and they are just puppets in the hands of the player.

This is one of the aspects of the story that I didn’t like much, because I feel that it deprives the characters of their own will, motivations and individuality. But I have accepted it nonetheless, because I’ve never been a fan of multiple playable characters in the first place and I didn’t care much about how the authors decided to handle the “common knowledge” aspect.

Actually I had such a bad feeling about this puzzle at my first gameplay, that I thought “It would have been better if the graffiti displayed the NUMBER instead of the NAME. After all, you need to solve the dime puzzle, which is a good puzzle yet, so you can do without the telepathic phonebook puzzle”

Conversely, allowing telepathy could also let you to escape using the cell phone, which is a shortcut that:

  1. Cuts off the good dime puzzle
  2. implies the weird telepathy.

That’s exactly what I meant!

You “don’t like it”, you “feel it wrong”, but you eventually accept it.

I was sure I wasn’t the only one.

The most compliated puzzle in Maniac Mansion was probably the telescope puzzle.

1. Distract Edna by either getting caught or Phoning her
2. Have one kid enter the room above her room and switch on the light there and open the painting
3. Have a third kid correctly adjust and look through the telescope and remember the number
4. Use the number to open the save and get the envelope
5. Either phone Edna again to distract her, get the kid that is in the dungeon up again(if he has the dungeon key) or just go down and get trapped by Edna so at least one of the keyless kids get out of the cellar

There are many ways to do this (which is one of the reasons MM is still such a brilliant game) but have you ever questioned how the kid that looks through the telescope tells the kid the number for entering the safe? Does he scream really loud? Do they have walkie talkies?

There is probably even a way to do the whole thing with just two kids but that would probably take really long.

Well, I didn’t feel that there was something wrong with it, both because this is not the first game that puts the player in the shoes of the know-it-all manager and because I can’t exclude that there is a deliberate reason why the characters behave in that way (for example, if they are tube-connected robots/programs, the collective consciousness would make sense).

To me it’s just an aspect of the story that I don’t like very much, but I don’t think that the decision of the authors to design the game in this way doesn’t make sense or is strange/wrong.

“After the agent in the sewers sees the graffiti, a new dialogue line appears to communicate to the partner the name to look up the phonebook.”

You wouldn’t be able to do that without voice-recording every single name in the phone book, since it seems to be randomized.

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Good point.
The name could be written down on a piece of paper, or -as I suggested as an alternative- the phonebook puzzle can be removed, putting the number on the graffiti. So the agent down can call directly with the dime, and the agent up (if in possess of the cell phone) can be told which number to call.
Record numers from 0 to 9 should be easier…

…or maybe the name to call can be unrandomized.

In Zak McKracken And The Alien Mindbenders, there is a puzzle where Zak, on the Earth, watches a sequence to open a giant door on Mars.
As Zak, you look at the sequence on the Earth. Then you switch to one of the two characters on Mars, and as Melissa or Leslie, you can open the door using that sequence.
How the two of them could know it?

@milanfahrnholz suggested by their dreams (because that’s what is said by Annie earlier), but in that moment they aren’t dreaming, it’s day.

So, let’s call it, for both cases… “sixth sense” :blush:

Given how the story plays out in Thimbleweed Park, that actually makes sense in this particular case.

Not right in that moment, but with all the time that is passing you don´t believe they never sleep, do you? Zak probably sleeps on at least some of the many long flights and the girls on mars certainly have some way to sleep on their bus, or maybe the hostel after the removal of the broom alien. As for Annie we gotta use your imagination as we never really see her place, only here office.

Yes, it definitely makes sense, if you take into consideration the story and the later revelations.

I changed my view on this aspect of the game when I read this comment of Ron on the development blog.

From that moment on, it was clear to me that the real protagonist of the story is the player and that the characters are in part defined by what the player decides the characters should do.

Yeah, plausible.

I don’t really agree with that.
Since you are the player and in control of both characters it was your decision to rely on telepathy.
But nothing hinders someone to make them meet at the manhole, imagining whatever conversion they like (they could always talk to each other there since the very first version, so it’s not far fetched).

I don’t think a game (or movie) has to explicitly state every little detail/conversion by themselves, especially when it’s a game and you are in control.

There is another reason they couldn’t do it this way since this was one of the Kickstarter backer rewards:

[quote]Get your name in the exclusive Thimbleweed Park in-game phone book (subject to our approval).
Your name could be the solution to a puzzle.[/quote]

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At the end of the game, the very premise is that they’re characters in a game and do a lot of random things that wouldn’t make sense if they had any free will. For example, “haven’t you wondered why you keep picking up specks of dust from the floor?” The characters are inside of a game and this is an inescapable meta reality. Therefore, the agent that is not trapped can automatically know which name to look for. Likewise, the characters know that they gotta go get a hotdog each one, or go to the factory at the right time to open the door, and so on and so on. In addition, the fact that you can give characters things from the others’ inventory, and yet, not all of them are happy to receive them (Ray and Ransom). Ransom also complains about being made climb the ladder, for example. It does make sense in the context of the ending of the game.

You were able to open a dialog between Rey and Reyes through the manhole cover in front of the Quickie Pal even before new dialog updates. I remember it during my first playthrough and there were many options to choose from in their conversation.