Annoying Games Mechanics – Companions & Romance

It’s been a while, hasn’t it, since a game mechanic has bothered me so much that I had to unpack the Annoying Game Mechanics section of The Mental Attic for a nice rant. But as I’ve been streaming and recording Let’s Plays in the past few months, and perhaps because of my choice of games, there are two that have really gotten on my nerves.

As with every Annoying Game Mechanic in the past, this is a mechanic that when done right it’s awesome but when done improperly it just makes you groan. A friend once said that the definition applies to all mechanics, and he might be right, but some mechanics are always awesome and others are always bad. Those in the middle, I call them annoying.

But let’s get down to business. The mechanics I’m bothered about right now are Companions and Romance. Yes, since it’s been a while and these two are connected, I’ve decided to go for a twofer. But it’s going to work a bit differently. I’m not gonna go into multiple examples, just a couple for each and explain why they’re good or bad.

Annoying Game Mechanics - Companions | Romance
It’s up to you to decide is this is a romance or just friendship, but it’s indubitably pure human contact!

You might wonder: is Romance a mechanic, or is it part of the narrative? In most cases I’d say narrative, just an element of the storytelling, to connect two or more characters together, to give us something to care about. But when the relationship is quantified, when the attraction and the closeness and intimacy have defined values that you can alter with items or a choice in a conversation, then it becomes a mechanic.

The problem with Romance as a mechanic is that as I mentioned in last week’s Writing a Novel guide, one of the pitfalls of the romance genre is the lack of characterisation on the couples. You have characters with barely any personality and you expect the players to feel love for them. Or maybe they’re bland and live and breathe by your words and your gifts. How can that mechanic be satisfactory? How can it convey the beauty that is human relations or the heartbreak of a love lost when it’s so artificial? You fall in love with people who challenge you, who make you realise the stupid things you think or say, the ones you tell yourself or told to you by others. You fall in love with people who make you change for the better, who make you question the things you just accepted so you form your own conclusions. You fall in love with those that force you to face your fears head on, because just being with them brings out the courage you thought you never had.

Annoying Game Mechanics - Companions | Romance
She has doubts, dreams, joys and fears, just like any other person! (Image Credit:

One of the best romances in games for me has always been Revan and Bastila in Knights of the Old Republic. Your character is a blank slate, but you give him the personality with every choice you make. You embody him and he becomes a well-rounded character. Bastila on the other hand has a defined personality, she’s haughty and proud but it’s all a front for doubts and impossible burdens placed on her. She’s vulnerable and that makes it hard for her to connect. And it’s not through gifts that you connect with her, or a simple choice of “let’s do this,” but something gradual, through hundreds of conversations. You talk to her about her worries, about her values, you get to know her fully before you pass that romance checkpoint, so when you do get to that place it feels more natural, because you got there through the gaming equivalent of pure human contact.

The worst romances on the other hand are in Dragon Age origins and Jade Empire, two Bioware games released after Knights of the Old Republic. Each has one of the sins and rides it into the sunset. Dragon Age Origins lets you buy affection with gifts and you can skip the human contact of dozens of conversations by just showering your would-be partner with lavish gifts. It doesn’t feel like a romance, more like a business transaction that ends in an intimate moment.

Annoying Game Mechanics - Companions | Romance
To be fair, it’s not just the romance, but also the dialogues that are wooden! (Image Credit: Penny Arcade Forums)

Jade Empire on the other hand suffers from bland characters, women and men with almost no personality. They rarely have their own opinions and some even state yours is all that matters to them. They don’t feel human even if the most basic of ways: thought. How can you connect with them then, how can you connect to a doll or a puppet? Jade Empire romantic interests have no soul.


Companions are a part of a game that goes beyond the narrative and extends to the gameplay itself. A companion is a supporting character, someone there to help you fight or to give out clues on how to solve a certain puzzle. You might have a single companion or you might have a few of them trailing behind you. Sometimes you can play as the companions, choosing their abilities in battle or just making them your main character for a while.

Companions have their own mechanics associated to them. They have underlying systems controlling their behaviour, abilities and even power levels. Sometimes you can talk to them and find out more about them, even romance them if you give gifts or engage them in meaningful ways. Sometimes you can raise your connection or affinity to them to unlock personal quests or just more bonuses in battle.

Annoying Game Mechanics - Companions | Romance
By the time you get here, the AI and you will be an unstoppable team! (Image Credit: Bored Nations)

Good Companion mechanics are those where the party NPCs don’t get in your way, or their AI is good enough they fight battles as well or even better than you would. Knights of the Old Republic, as fun as it, is has horrible companions in this regard. They’ll often get lost on the way, walking or running slower than you do, making you waste precious time because you can’t exit a room unless your party is all there. In combat they rush their enemies even if they’re ranged characters and unless you take the time—which you often have to—to select their abilities, they won’t use their powers or weapons effectively. Force using characters are worse at this, missing out on disabling enemies because their AI just goes for Saber Flurry.

Dragon Age: Origins (and only Origins) companions are fantastic. They react to your attacks, often creating combos that you might not be aware of, or setting those up for you if you have the right spells. Through their automated example you learn how to create proper strategies when fighting most enemy types.

Jade Empire, despite its wooden romances, has an interesting take on companions, as you can set them to offense and support. In offensive mode, they attack enemies just as you, often taking some of the heat off your back and giving you a chance to take out enemies one by one. In support though, they sit around in a meditative pose and give you a passive bonus, though those are quite unbalanced to be honest. Only Dawn Star is of particular use, as she can restore your Chi—read Mana.

Annoying Game Mechanics - Companions | Romance
They help in combat, but they have their own love interests! (Image Credit: A Most Agreeable Time)

Companions and Romance often go hand in hand, especially in Bioware, they can’t NOT do romance and companions—and it’s why I used them for my examples and not others. It’s their signature and people expect it, though I wish all their games had the depth of humanity that the Knights of the Old Republic romances had. But sometimes you get games were companions and the romance are independent of one another, where the affection is left to the narrative. Xenoblade Chronicles fall into this category, where the companions’ feelings towards one another are part of the script. Their affinity with you only determines mechanical benefits, but there is no pursuit of romance, and it’s better that way to be honest. I’d rather have my character pick their partner because it’s part of the script, than have to romance a character with no soul.

But what do you think about companions and the mechanics of love in video games? Do you have memories of a truly human connection in a game, or do you ignore them because they’re pointless and artificial? How about just companions, do you have any thoughts on those? I skimmed on examples this time just to rant a bit more, but I’m keen to hear other examples of good and bad!

Let me know in the comments!

Annoying Game Mechanics – Timed Sequences

Annoying Game Mechanics are those that just make you groan when you see them in a game. You’ve seen them at their best but you’ve also seen them at their worst. You can’t love them but you can’t hate them either, but you can definitely be annoyed!

This week the mechanic I’m having an issue with is Timed Sequences! I’m pulling this one from the archives, as this was the last AGM to be featured on the site, and it was a video! Thankfully, there are no records of it ever existing and the world is a happier place for it. You don’t need me mumbling on video with poor audio. You already have me mumbling on video with good audio!

Sometimes games need to add a bit more pressure to your current task. Maybe they want you to hurry the hell up before the nuclear reactor blows up, or maybe they want you to hold on to dear life and withstand something unfairly difficult for a little while before something else happens! These are Timed Sequences, events or segments in a game where you have a finite time window to complete a task. Unlike other Annoying Game Mechanics, there are two types of Timed Sequences:

Timed Tasks, as their name imply mean you have a set time to go about your business. Maybe it’s escaping a room before a bomb blows up, or escape a crime-scene before the police arrive, or lock your doors before someone comes barging in. These timed sequences add tension to a sequence. The gameplay remains the same as do all the rules, but now you have that timer pressuring you.

Survival Countdown sequences are not specific tasks, not simple objectives to follow. Instead your only goal is to survive or hold on until the time runs out or some other even triggers. Real Time Strategy games are fond of this one, of giving you a five minute window until victory triggers with the difficulty ramping up the more time passes. While the previous mean to increase tension, these are frantic and meant to test your composure and reaction time.

If done properly these sequences do exactly what they’re meant to do, they add tension and make for exciting gameplay. They make you nervous enough to make mistakes as you fumble with the controls, but lenient enough that you can commit errors and still make it through. The successful ones add an incomparable adrenaline rush to your game and in doing so enhance the player’s immersion.

If they screw up, on the other hand, the only thing they’ll cause is stress and frustration, becoming tall walls the players need to overcome to move along with the rest of the game. They kill the fun and immersion they tried to enhance and make sure the player doesn’t have fond memories of the game.

The staple of an annoying mechanic is that it’s seen both good and bad days. The following are some of the best and most disappointing uses:


  • Every Metroid game has at least one timed sequence, usually in the form of an escape. From leaving the self-destructing planet at the end of Metroid 1 and Super Metroid to the reactor core meltdown in Metroid Fusion. These sequences are exciting and tense but you have enough leeway to royally screw up and still make it out in time.
  • Warcraft III has a few of these. The most memorable one is the last mission in the Undead Campaign, where you summon the Burning Legion to Azeroth. The enemies become ever stronger and the units come out faster and it’s a frantic race to keep your defenses up until the time is done. Thankfully your new masters send you aid in the form of demonic units to help vanquish your enemies and give you some breathing space!
  • Guild of Dungeoneering has an interesting take on the timed tasks. Some dungeons will feature a “sleeping” monster. The creature will come after you in a number of turns and you have to do your best to gear and level up before it does. The best part about it is that if you manage to reach it before it wakes up, it will take a hit to its stats, making the fight considerably easier.
  • Resident Evil games also have a tendency for self-destruct escapes. Resident Evil 2 is the most memorable of them in my opinion by having a boss fight right in the middle of it. It would be stressful if not for two reasons. First, the timer is generous enough. Second, by the time you get to the boss you’ll have a massive arsenal with which to take the boss out with time to spare. So it works as a wonderfully tense situation.
  • One of the most memorable stages in StarCraft is the mission where you must hold on until evacuation comes by resisting attacks by the Protoss and Zerg. This is the mission where Kerrigan falls. It was wonderfully paced and by the end you hate to leave her behind.
  • The Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth has a wonderful starting timed sequence. You have to jump out of bed and block out the entrances to your room before the villagers can come after you. From then it escalates into a chase sequence where each locked door adds a bit of time for a breather. If you’re playing on the PC version—in which the main character moves at 1/6 of the normal speed—this extra time is vital!
  • Final Fantasy VIII has a fantastic timed sequence. While fighting Seifer on the Lunatic Pandora, Odin will appear and attempt to kill him only to die in the process. You then see Odin’s sword flying through the sky and a mysterious hand grabbing it as it parts the clouds. If you then stretch the battle on, eventually Gilgamesh will show up, kill Seifer and take Odin’s place as your new summon. It’s entirely optional but very rewarding!


  • Dracula 2 added these to the game, but they are outstandingly frustrating. With the poor resolution on its static backgrounds, finding the latch to close the door or the mirrors to move to kill a vampire is a bit of frustrating pixel hunting that will annoy you to no end.
  • Batman: Arkham Knight added VR challenges for the Batmobile, where you race from one end to another or have a limited time to do something with the clunky tank. By that last sentence you should know why this is a bad one. The Batmobile has worthless maneuverability, making each turn take so much time that completing the challenges becomes painful. It doesn’t help that time boosters are so out of the way that it’s pointless to get them.
  • Guild of Dungeoneering makes the list again but this time with its monster chase quests. In these the monster is coming after you and will get to you in a matter of turns. With the way the AI works for determining its next move, these quests can be very frustrating when your character walks straight into the monster’s path.
  • Various JRPG, including Xenoblade Chronicles, have unbeatable boss fights where you just have to hold on for a certain number of turns until something else happens. These sequences feel cheap and are insanely punishing and barely beatable. Worse still, if for some reason you out-level the content, then it feels as though you lose by plot even if you manage to defeat the monster.
  • Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness has a few of these. The first one is at an old lady’s house, where you must escape before the police get there, but not before you find a journal. The only problem is that the journal is nowhere in sight. So you look around and of course, it’s in the kitchen? What? The time you have to do this is very tight and the ridiculous location for the item just adds to the confusion.
    • Later on you need to escape from a room where someone set a bomb, but even the smallest of missteps will make the thing go boom.

Annoying Game Mechanics – Tutorials

Annoying Game Mechanics are those that just make you groan when you see them in a game. You’ve seen them at their best but you’ve also seen them at their worst. You can’t love them but you can’t hate them either, but you can definitely be annoyed!

This week the mechanic I’m having an issue with is Tutorials! Continue reading Annoying Game Mechanics – Tutorials

Annoying Game Mechanics – Subquests

Annoying Game Mechanics are those that just make you groan when you see them in a game. You’ve seen them at their best but you’ve also seen them at their worst. You can’t love them but you can’t hate them either, but you can definitely be annoyed!

This week the mechanic I’m having an issue with is Subquests! Continue reading Annoying Game Mechanics – Subquests

Annoying Game Mechanics – Collectibles

Annoying Game Mechanics are those that just make you groan when you see them in a game. You’ve seen them at their best but you’ve also seen them at their worst. You can’t love them but you can’t hate them either, but you can definitely be annoyed!

This week the mechanic I’m having an issue with is Collectibles!

These are the items, trophies and knickknacks strewn around the maps, there for you to find. They’re an optional quest, something else to do when you’re not saving the world or looking for a princess in another castle. They expand the gameplay—sometimes even padding it—and may or not include some sort of challenge to collect them. Maybe you need to do a tricky platforming segment, or climb a steep hill with limited stamina or defeat a powerful enemy to find this little thing.

I don’t mean health pickups and powerups, pieces of heart or mushrooms. Those are central mechanics, those we can call simply “pickups.” I mean the truly optional, those that if you took them out, the core gameplay would not change. I mean the Flags, the Gold Skultullas, the hidden memoires and ancient artefacts. As much as we dislike the idea of having to go around the maps looking for a tiny object or creature, we all do it in the end, because we hope there’ll be a big reward for the effort we put in.

And that ultimately is what separates the good Collectibles from the bad one. There is a function to them, a purpose to the scavenger hunt. Maybe it’s an upgrade or simply another ending to the game.

The staple of an annoying mechanic is that it’s seen both good and bad days. The following are some of the best and most disappointing uses:


  • The Legend of Zelda has always done collectibles right, giving you a big reward for your efforts.
    • Ocarina of Time had the Skulltulas, and every 10 or so would break the curse on one person and they would give you a reward.
    • From Wind Waker onwards you had loot bags for monster drops. These could be exchanged for treasure or in Skyward Sword’s case, used for upgrades. You might think the upgrades a central mechanic, but they’re really not, as you don’t really need them at all, nor does the game hint that you should do it.
  • TheEzioAuditore Assassin’s Creed games had you collecting Seals—through eitheraparkour gauntlet or a combat one— that would earn you the most powerful armour in the game, usually unbreakable and with more defence than any other piece of gear.
    • Not only did it have those, but also the Animus Fragments in Revelations and the ciphers and special puzzles in the other two games and completing each would reveal a part of the truth.
  • System Shock 2, Bioshock and Dead Space all have Audio and text logs, and while the benefit from them isn’t necessarily mechanic (such as a password), they help their title’s storytelling in a very rewarding way.
  • Batman: Arkham City made the inane Riddler Trophies useful, by setting them as prerequisites for the challenge rooms where Edward Nygma stashed his hostages.
  • Bloodborne has the “One-third of Umbilical Cord”. Taking three of them and selecting a particular option near the end, unlocks the game’s final ending. Again, you might consider this one central to the game, but they are in no way signposted and you can even find more than three, thus I consider them collectibles.
  • The Witcher 3 has Gwent Cards. As much as I dislike the minigame itself (I was a Dice Poker master!), the cards are a form of collectibles. There’s even a sidequest called “Gotta Collect them All!” Each card can bolster your deck which in turn can lead you to making some serious money.
  • Xenoblade Chronicles has special items thrown around its massive maps. You’ll come across them as blue balls of light hovering over the ground. You’ll often use these little items, which are completely random by the way, as objectives in some of the game’s thousands of subquests. And beyond that, you have an adventuring journal where you can ‘use’ these items to fill up the current zone’s collection for Flora, Fauna, Mechs, etc., and gain a small item when you’ve completed a set.
  • Final Fantasies have always had some form of collectible:
    • Final Fantasy VIII much like The Witcher 3 had cards (only this card game was quite fun!).
    • Summons are mostly optional in the game, and collecting them can be one of the most satisfying things to do, as there is always a challenge to be found.


  • Speaking of Assassin’s Creed, the series has also had its fair share of ridiculous and pointless collectibles.
    • As much as I love AC2, the feathers were unnecessary and tedious. The point of them is to give Ezio’s mother closure, but surely there are better ways than hunting for 100 random feathers in the environment.
    • The different flags found in all the games are a colossal waste of time, especially the Assassin’s Creed 1 and Brotherhood’s.
    • The Animus Fragments in Black Flag are the epitome to pointless collectibles. They really give you nothing for collecting them, just an achievement.
  • While Arkham City did make the Riddler trophies useful, it added the Catwoman Trophies in…just because. They add nothing and simply pad her segments, which aren’t remotely as fun as Batman’s.
  • The Legend, Anniversary and Underworld trilogy for Tomb Raider added Relics to the game, and they do nothing but unlock concept art, which is a complete waste of time. Give me something useful, not something I’m already slowly unlocking by just clearing the game.
  • Alice: Madness Returns has perhaps the most pointless of all collectibles. You can find memory fragments, which show you either a conversation or an image relating to Alice’s past and her mental state. The problem is they don’t offer any answers or insights into the plot. The real memories, the ones that do offer something interesting, are obligatory and found at the end of each level.
  • Alan Wake had you running around collecting all manner of nonsense, from Manuscript Pages to Coffee Thermoses! They completely broke any immersion, something that was already hard to come by with such a padded game (levels outstayed their welcome and then lasted for another half hour) without adding something so pointless as knocking over can pyramids.


Annoying Game Mechanics – Combos

Annoying Game Mechanics are those that just make you groan when you see them in a game. You’ve seen them at their best but you’ve also seen them at their worst. You can’t love them but you can’t hate them either, but you can definitely be annoyed!

This week the mechanic I’m having an issue with is Combos! Continue reading Annoying Game Mechanics – Combos

Annoying Game Mechanics – Platforming

What are Annoying Game Mechanics? It’s those mechanics that when you encounter them you can’t help but groan. You’ve seen them at their best and worst, but a part of your is just, well, annoyed!

If you find the series name familiar, then you might remember it from its 1001Up days. But now, after careful and hard negotiations (not really, the 1001Up crew are lovely people), AGM has made its move to The Mental Attic. Hope you enjoy it here as much as you did before and make sure to visit AGMs former home as well!

This week the mechanic I’m having an issue with is Platforming!

I’m not talking about platformer games, not Mario, Sonic (no matter how bad some Sonic platforming gets) or even Shadow of the Colossus and Assassin’s Creed. No, what I mean is platforming in games from other genres. Most commonly, you see them in action adventures, to serve as a break from the adventure and/or action elements.

When done right, they can enhance the game’s experience by giving you an additional challenge to overcome or simply be a break from the overall gameplay and give you something fresh and exciting! The problem implementations are those that lack any form of challenge or more specifically the risk of failure. If there isn’t even a chance you might mess up, there’s no excitement possible. You’ve seen these, the obligatory climbing sequences on rails. If something bad happens it’s because you deliberately failed or it was scripted to happen, as the game attempts to use the platforming to enhance its cinematic side and not the game’s experience.

Then there’s Lazy Platforming, where your character does it mostly on its own, jumping over gaps and obstacles without needing your input. These aren’t necessarily bad but they are very tricky.

The staple of an annoying mechanic is that it’s seen both good and bad days. The following are some of the best and most disappointing uses:


  • Overall, the Legend of Zelda uses Lazy Platforming, but Skyward Sword gave it an interesting twist: Stamina. When you run, climb or performing any platforming you have to pay attention to your stamina. If it runs out you’re in for a long and painful fall or left out of breath and helpless, until it refills.
    • The Handheld 2D Zelda titles though have been using Active Platforming ever since Link’s Awakening, by means of a jumping item. Call it a feather or a cape, you often need to time and perfect your jumps to progress and really master them if you plan on collecting secrets.
  • Even with the Autograb feature, the LAU Tomb Raider games have amazing platforming because there is a great degree of challenge involved. You’re never just climbing, but also avoiding traps, making tricky jumps or even leaps of faith when the camera won’t do what you want it to. It keeps it exciting.
  • Even more so than the previous example are the Core Tomb Raider games, the ones developed by Core Design. In these the platforming was superb and without autograb you had to make sure the jump was spot on and collecting secrets was extremely challenging.
  • The Batman Arkham games use a mix of active and lazy platforming. Lazy for running and jumping but active for everything else, and in a game where everything is a hazard and everyone is out to kill you, the platforming damn well works. The best part of it is the gliding, a twist to platforming by giving you limited flight.
  • Speaking of limited flight, Soul Reaver invented that mechanic. Gliding as part of platforming was one of Raziel’s signature moves and possibly the hardest thing to master in these games.
  • In an already difficult game, Dark Souls keeps it going with some very tricky platforming. With varying running speeds and environmental hazards, the game will make you dread the idea of jumping a gap. But then again, Dark Souls makes you dread every other sequence as well.
  • InVerbis Virtus does platforming really well. Not only do you have your usual moving platforms but with the use of its spells, the platforming becomes another puzzle you need to solve. In this case platforming isn’t a break from the overall gameplay but it part of it.
    • Having said so, there is a degree of frustration when the voice recognition doesn’t pick up what you’re saying.


  • Resident Evil, from the 4th installment onwards started using Lazy platforming and for what it adds to the experience they might as well have cut it out. Worst of all are the high-action chase sequences that are nothing more than quick-time events disguised as platforming.
  • Thief (not the original series but the reboot) is guilty of the worst kind of Lazy Platforming, the one that adds nothing to the experience. You’ll climb pipes and ledges in 3rd person but there are completely bland and could’ve been replaced with something a bit more exciting, maybe some grappling and climbing like they did in Far Cry 4.
  • The Castlevania Lords of Shadow series—excluding Mirror of Fate—also features plenty of worthless platforming, especially climbing sequences where you only press UP, before something big, dramatic and entirely cinematic happens.
  • Platforming in Devil May Cry is a mess and rarely works well. When it does it’s brilliant but more often than not it stumbles and just frustrates you. In this series’ case the problem mostly lies with the fixed camera, as it will often obscure the ledges or items you’re jumping towards. And as is always the case with fixed camera your directional input changes with the angles, making it even more frustrating!

Annoying Game Mechanics – Flooding Puzzles

What are Annoying Game Mechanics? They’re those that when you find them you can’t help but groan. You’ve seen them at their best and worst and now they just annoy you on principle!

If you find the series name familiar, then you might remember it from its 1001Up days. But now, after careful and hard negotiations (not really, the 1001Up crew are lovely people), AGM has made its move to The Mental Attic. Is it permanent? Who knows, but in the meantime I hope you enjoy it here as much as you did before and make sure to visit AGMs former home as well!

For this relaunch of Annoying Game Mechanics, I’ve chosen one that I’ve recently seen while on my Classic Play series: Flooding Puzzles.

You’ve seen them in almost every game imaginable. Those sequences where you have to raise or lower the water levels to open new areas or to make puzzle-related objects float. Exactly what the puzzle entails depends on the game but it’s almost become a staple of adventure games, especially action-adventures.

My problem with the mechanic is there are so many things you can do with water: you can alter its states, shifting from gas to ice and back to liquid in a fantastic chemical puzzle; you can use water levels to fill containers for weight-puzzles; you can have a fire & water puzzle, where you use one against the other; piping puzzles to direct the flow of water in the direction you want, among others.

Yet despite those examples, and the many more I can’t even begin to imagine, the implementation we most often see in video games is using flooding. Now every time I see this mechanic, I instinctively sigh and think “not this again.”

The staple of an annoying mechanic is that it’s seen both good and bad days. The following are some of the best and most disappointing uses:


  • The Water Temple from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time defined this puzzle for the modern era. A sprawling labyrinthine dungeon where you must raise and lower the water to open new areas, reveal treasures and gain access to previously impossible to reach ledges and doors. The Water Temple is famous—or infamous depending on whom you ask—and is one of the hardest Zelda dungeons to date.
    • A close second is the 2nd Dark World dungeon in A Link to The Past, which also featured levers to raise water levels.
  • The Tomb Raider series loves this mechanic, but no other game does it more often than Tomb Raider Anniversary, with almost back-to-back water-level puzzles.
    • The first one is in Greece in the Poseidon room. A vertical shaft where you must raise and lower the water a few times to get a raft to the exact place you need it to reach a ledge. This one also involves a fair dose of box pushing, pulling and underwater levers.
    • The second one is the previous example on steroids, this time not a vertical room but an entire ancient sewer/waterway. With long drops that will instantly kill you and checkpoints at the most inconvenient locations and times, this is a pain in the arse to play to be honest, but it is well designed and has a right way to do it…and the way I did it the first time around.
    • The third one involves flooding an entire room, then lowering the water to shoot some scarabs to open grates and then re-flood the area to escape. It’s not really complex but flooding plus platforming make it interesting.


  • The Resident Evil series is famous for using these,notasbrainteasers but time-wasters. Simple crank puzzles to flood or drain areas.
    • Resident Evil 2 has the perfect example: Go into a canal, arrange boxes in a straight line, raise water level and go through.
    • Resident Evil 4 is another perfect example. The sewers under Salazar’s castle have a flooded section and the challenge of it all is making it through the area and its many one-hit-kill enemies to the crank you need to drain the water.
  • Wet-Dry World in Super Mario 64 is not one of my favourites. The initial height of the water depends on how high you jumped into the level and you raise or lower the water with coloured crystals, seven of them in total and spread throughout the environment. It’s a pain to find the exact one you’re looking for and if the water level’s high enough, it’s going to be a long swim down to the crystal you need. Hope you don’t drown!

There are many more examples of this annoying mechanic at work, but I can’t list them all. Do you have a favourite flood puzzle, or one you just can’t stand? Let me know in the comments and be sure to come back in two weeks for another issue of Annoying Game Mechanics!