The Temple of Shorgil

The Temple of Shorgil is a puzzly (someone said “oldstyle”: let me oppose that later on*) game that’s just a single puzzle with a few diverging mechanics as long as the game proceeds, growing in difficulty up to the point where it lost me completely.

First things first: the mechanic is clean and clever. You have to PUT or TAKE statuettes to and from pedestals to unlock doors and procede into the maze and into the game itself. The complications of it start soon to become evident as the number of figurines grows.
Fortunately, this doesn’t resolve in impossibile mathematical nightmares but tends, on the contrary, to change to different tricks.

The last 2 puzzles were very hard, in my opinion, the first one being awesome and – for my experience – the second one being impossibile. I confess I retired** to the walkthrough a bit too much (it’s always like this, during the Comp: you like a game and want to see it finished even when you have all time in the world to solve it) and, while I slapped my face when I got the solution to the second-to-last, I never understood how the last one worked. It looked arbitrary and casual and that ruined the experience a bit for me.

Given how all of the previous puzzles were egregiously clued (just look and understand all of the plaques you find), I’m about to suppose the last one was somehow clued the same, but I really couldn’t find how.

There’s no plaque to read, and when I got that I had to put a “random” number of figurines in unrelated rooms (except to the fact they are tagged as “metal rooms”) I felt betrayed. Other players or, maybe, the author himself: what did I miss?

This is why I hate walkthroughs: they are just the can of chocolate left there in display for a diabetic. You shouldn’t use them but… well.

Being this a puzzlefest, the ending could have been more plain – while it still gives space to some laugh and fun.

My score:
Nice voice (although very very gaunt, given the kind of game where much of it sounds procedurally generated).
Nice add-ons (the maps are marvelous and really the game-making affair: (*) this is one of the things that make me oppose the thought that this is an oldstyle game – man, back in the oldstyle days you had to BUY a DAMN MAP in a RL shop!)
Clever puzzle(s).
An unfortunate last puzzle.

For the times we are currently living in, I’d say: 8/10.

I will probably change my mind after I’ve played other games in this Comp. Or when someone has told me how could I ever understand the last puzzle by myself, proving (as usual) that I’m a dumb man.

  • Ok, being it this kind of game, it IS probably oldstyle. But in the good way, at least.
    ** Retired, yes. Cause when I start using WTs, the game is usually over, for me. As the fun. Banish WTs forever!

The ‘randomness’ actually has a clue:

If you go to the 4-panel room and solve it, it reveals a plaque telling you to put those random figurines.

Personally I found this just about the right length and difficulty level for me, so that I was able to play it through during the comp judging period without resorting to the walkthrough. A couple of spoilery reflections about the puzzle design:

[spoiler]I particularly liked the rotating cylinder cow/frog/etc puzzle. It didn’t work the way one might expect, and a couple times I thought I had figured out the pattern only to be baffled by its behavior when I tried to act on that understanding. Eventually I had to take some notes to work out what was happening. But once I’d done so, it was easy to actually execute the solution. To me, this is ideal (and the opposite of e.g. a laborious maze puzzle): something where it might take some thought to understand the puzzle space, but once you’ve understood the solution it takes only a few moves to execute that solution.

Contrast the bronze and steel room puzzle, where I had to wander all around looking for the relevant rooms again because – thanks to the ASCII mapping – I hadn’t been bothering to keep separate notes about what the rooms were named, and therefore had only a sketchy recollection of where those particular rooms could be found. Obviously it still wasn’t terrible – this wasn’t Tower of Hanoi territory – but it meant there was something of a gap between understanding the puzzle and being rewarded for understanding it.

I also appreciated the fact that the puzzles required engaging with the contents of the legends in several different ways, rather than always having the legend clues be of the same type. I particularly liked the puzzle of rotating words to match the sentences from several plaques.

Given all that, I sort of wished that the legends themselves had been given just slightly more of a personality or thematic congruity. Why does the figurine have a flower for a head? What is this culture that we’re exploring? I know, I know, this is a puzzle game in a style that deliberately avoids unnecessary description, and it’s in keeping with DiBianca’s past work. But I felt like there was space without changing the existing design much at all to give the fictional elements just a touch more color and personality, especially given that the protagonist is meant to be a scholar studying that culture. Grandma Bethlinda’s Variety Box had a mix of surprising and cool images, and that added a lot to its charm.

Still, that’s a comparatively minor gripe. In general, a well-crafted puzzle box in which the difficulty escalates gradually and there are usually a couple different puzzles available to work on.[/spoiler]

Minor spoiler about the figurines:

There is a reason they have flowers for heads.

Oh? Cool! What did I miss?

I don’t want to say too much, as a fellow author in the comp and all, but it’s probably safe just to re-emphasize that it’s an Arthur DiBianca game…

Ah, alas.

Does it involve

using the 7 figurines to form “The hero was amazed” on the rotating letter wall?

I never wound up needing to do that, forgot to go back and try it, and now don’t have a late game save file that would let me easily replay.


that, and more. There’s a whole series of interlocked hidden puzzles.


I mean obviously, I should have known that there would be

And when you get the real winning ending, you are given the answer to the old woman’s riddle.

The final puzzle was beautiful.

Yeah, it’s a XYZZY Best Puzzle contender for sure.

I’ve also posted a review of the game at my blog here.

Clearly I need to take another look at this one. Most of the main puzzles were reasonably straightforward, so I got to the endgame with only a little help. But I was playing on my Android phone, and for some reason, Quixe does not recognize spacebar input from the Android keyboard for a “press space to continue” prompt. It just locks up and won’t accept any further input.

So I play through a bunch of puzzles, and then, at endgame…“press space to continue”… Argh.

I really should have just played on PC when I ran into that same prompt when I tried to look at the illustrations, but I was intrigued by the puzzles, so I just played without looking at the illustrations.

Also, I would have liked to see all the rooms labeled on the map rather than just the plaques, but that’s a minor thing.

Huh. Could someone clue me in on the final puzzle (at least I think it’s the final one)? I’m completely stuck.

[spoiler]I’ve been to all the rooms except the rightmost one on the center line. I’m assuming this is the flower child puzzle, since that’s the only obvious clue that I haven’t done anything with.

But I’m not sure what the flower child plaque is supposed to mean. In all three rooms with 7-depression pedestals, I’ve tried the various combinations of putting and taking all the figurines in 1/1/1/1/2/1 and the reverse.

AFAICT you can’t (quite) put the figurines back where they came from in either forward or reverse order since you can’t get out of the blue room without taking the figurine off the pedestal and exiting immediately, and that’s the second figurine so it’s not at either end of the list.

I tried looking through the other plaques for words that would fit with “one”, “another”, “third”, “fourth”, “two together”, and “seventh” since that’s how one of the other pillar-room puzzles works but couldn’t come up with anything there.

Since the legend ordering comes from another pillar room, I tried skipping through that list with some combinations of 1/1/1/1/2/1 and one/one/third/fourth/two/seventh but didn’t find anything.

There are still the two marker rooms which I haven’t found a purpose for, so maybe there’s something there? But it won’t let you put or take since the markers aren’t a pedestal. I tried messing around with the names, since they’re mostly 7-letter words with three vowels (except the one pair which is 5/8 letters), so putting them together makes a nice 7x7 square which seems a little too convenient to be coincidental. But nothing jumped out at me.

The other two hidden puzzles made you re-use the machinery from an earlier main-path puzzle, but I don’t think there was a counting puzzle where it would make sense to apply either number sequence?

So yeah…help? Is there something obvious that I’m totally overlooking?[/spoiler]

Edit: I disassembled the game and found the solution but I still don’t get it.

Why that sequence of rooms? The plaque suggests that they’re times when the going got tough, but…almost every plaque has the hero failing at something. Why is failing to answer the old woman’s riddle included, but not failing to understand the poet’s instructions, or the farmer’s? Or failing to buy something from the vendor? Or finding that asking the queen for advice was useless? Or that waiting for the child didn’t give any significant food? Or failing to get the key and needing the fairy to give him the solution? I guess it’s fairy-tale-ish physical challenges or not helping someone who asked for it. But I don’t see how you were supposed to guess that…



@JoshGrams : I believe the key thing to note in that final puzzle is

that the flowerchild is thirsty: the other flowerchild followers fall away in places where they have access to water. Each of the plaques in the relevant rooms mention a body of water somehow, whether it’s a natural lake or a manmade fountain, and none of the plaques in the other rooms do.

Oh, man. I knew I must be missing something but I’m not sure I would ever have seen that. Thanks.