Tuesday, 31 May 2022

7th Guest - Verbal Logic and Another Maze

Written by Reiko

Last time I solved the first few puzzles and got some disjointed bits of story. I'm still not really sure what's going on, but it seems to have something to do with the mysterious boy, Tad. I'm starting to run out of available puzzles, though. At the moment, there's one more room on the top floor that I can access. This one isn't a bedroom; it looks more like a game room, with a pool table in the middle and a chessboard set up near one wall.

Here the fireplace isn’t a secret passage, but the pool table is.

When I walk in, Temple appears (so clearly these are out of order and I should have come here first before the previous bedroom). He calls this "the mad man's play room" and challenges Stauf to show him some real magic. Maybe Temple is some kind of stage magician but he wants the real thing?

This passage was a half-baked idea.

The "spooky" thing that happens when I trigger the pool table is that the view zooms in through one of the holes, under the surface of the table, and then somehow through the oven into the kitchen. Another weird shortcut. Sadly, there's no way to return, so all that does is force me to slowly make my way back through the house up to the game room again. (I'm mildly hoping there's some kind of meta puzzle involving all these secret passages, but I doubt it.)

This isn’t the right start, but it illustrates the knight's move offset.

The chessboard is the actual puzzle, and this one is the old classic of arranging eight queens onto a standard 8x8 chessboard. No queen can attack any other, of course. Stauff likes queens because they are "lethal in every direction." I don't remember the arrangement immediately, but it only takes me a few minutes to fiddle around and place them. One goes in a corner, several go at knight's move offsets on the other end, and the last few fit along the intersections of unused rows and diagonals.

The 7th guest is the only non-adult in the group.

In the next scene, Tad shows up again, but this time Temple seems not to know who he is. In fact, he thinks Tad is the 7th guest, and urges him to get out of there. He thinks Stauf wants the boy. Tad runs out of the scene and disappears.

I can also trigger one more thing where someone dressed as a clown holding a red balloon creepily mumbles about the balloon. I have no idea what that's about or who that's supposed to be. Looking back through my screenshots, I realize that the two people I had seen in the second floor hallway near the beginning of the game were Tad and Temple, but the graphics were just so bad that I thought Tad was a woman originally. Something about that puffy dressing gown thing he's wearing looks very feminine.

I walk along the whole second floor and check all the doors again, but nothing else is accessible, so I go back downstairs. I realize that somewhere in the midst of starting and restarting the game in order to get the screenshots I wanted and compare versions, I didn't trigger the scene with Dutton's letter again before I actually started solving puzzles, so I did that again.

The points of the mosaic star are missing… bugs?

Now the mosaic appears to be a puzzle. It didn't do anything the first time, so probably solving one of the other puzzles activated the mosaic, after the scene is played.

The points of the star around the mosaic are now hotspots, and when I click on one, a large insect appears at that spot, and I can choose which connected star point to send it to. If I click a second one that only has one available connected spot, the insect will automatically move to the available spot, but if I click another place with both connected points open, I can continue to choose. In order to fill as many spots as possible, I always choose the next spot that has both connections open and one of those connections is itself connected to the most recent spot where an insect went. That's probably an unclear way of saying that I chain the filled spots so that I don't leave gaps. Once I fill all but one spot, the puzzle is solved.

Of course the door is locked. Nobody’s getting out of this alive, right?

The short scene that appears next is of Tad frantically pulling at the door, trying to get out, while someone screams in the background. I don't know if this is before or after the scenes I saw before, but I would guess afterward.

At this point, I think I only have the pantry puzzle with the cans in the kitchen left. I can't find anything else to do. If “accessible” areas always have puzzles, then it’s possible there’s some kind of puzzle in the second floor hallway, but I can’t find anything there. So I go back to the kitchen and stare at the letters for a little while and think about it some more. We have a whole bunch of Y's (eleven) followed by a bunch of consonants.

Initial arrangement:


If we were to form words with these letters, the only vowel we get to work with is Y. How on earth do you make some kind of meaningful phrase out of words with only Y's for vowels? I start looking up words that have only Y's and find a couple of useful lists to refer to while I try to puzzle out what I'm meant to be doing here. (Either I find a list, or I spend hours reading through the dictionary finding the possible words, and nobody wants to read about me doing that. Or I write a script to search the dictionary, which is probably also a waste of time since it's already been done.)

Progress on the lower level

Progress on the upper level

Then I notice something interesting. On any list I find, the only Y-vowel words that are two letters long are BY and MY. And the arrangement of cans has exactly two groups of two cans, in the bottom row. Could I be looking for a phrase that contains the sequence "by my [something]"? That seems quite reasonable!

I start carefully assembling a list of all the possible reasonable words, because there really aren't very many, especially when I remove words that can't be made with only the letters I have available, like nymph (no N) or rhythm (only one H). (I also check all the proper names in the game, just to be sure, but none even have a Y, so I conclude that I'm probably meant to only look at ordinary words.) I reduce the list to only twenty-five unique words, not including plurals and such. Then I notice that one of them is CRYPT. I make the leap that maybe a place like that makes sense for that last word, so then it would be saying that something happens "by my crypt". It's a bit of a guess, but it seems like a good place to start, especially because that also uses up the one C that's available. I cull my list further by removing all other words with B, M, or C (like MYRRH and PSYCH) and get down to only sixteen unique words of length 3 to 6, only five of which are five letters: GLYPH, GYPSY, SLYLY, SYLPH, TRYST. The sequence needs one six-letter word and four five-letter words, one of which I think is CRYPT.

***** *****
****** *****

That means I have to use three of the five remaining words, but there's only one G and only one H, so I could use GLYPH or GYPSY but not both, and GLYPH or SYLPH but not both. What if I use GYPSY and SYLPH? Well, the six-letter word probably has to be SPRYLY because the only other options are plurals of the five letter words, which would duplicate too many letters. But SPRYLY uses a P, and so does CRYPT, and I only have three P's, so I can't use both GYPSY and SYLPH either. That means I have to use both SLYLY and TRYST plus one of the other three. Wait, SPRYLY and SLYLY both? That's weird. But we have so many Y's that we have to use as many words with two Y's as possible. In fact, the last three words only have one Y each, and the first word, three letters, almost certainly has only one Y as well, which means the middle four words have a total of seven Y's. Three of them must have two Y's each, and TRYST only has one Y, so the last one probably has to be GYPSY, as it's the only remaining option with two Y's.

Now what happens if I put in all the words I've decided on? I have about eight possibilities for the three-letter word. Some kind of GYPSY SLYLY SPRYLY TRYST BY MY CRYPT would fit the pattern (mostly grammatically), and it leaves only SHY as the last word to fill in to use up the letters. SHY GYPSY SLYLY SPRYLY TRYST BY MY CRYPT is what that comes out to, then. It's a bit odd, as I would expect the subject (gypsy) should really be plural (but that would use other vowels) or the verb (tryst) should be singular to match (just need another S, but then you get two six-letter words and the logic isn't as clear). Or maybe it's a command? "Shy gypsy, slyly spryly tryst by my crypt!" Ha. For a phrase with only Y's for vowels, it makes as much sense as anything, I suppose. But is it right? Who's the gypsy supposed to be, anyway? Temple?

Let’s play spot the spelling error.

After working all this out, I go back to the actual cans and swap them around until I have the phrase put in. ...Nothing happens. I stare at it for a moment, then realize I have two of the letters of CRYPT swapped the wrong way around. These letter graphics are also rather muddy and hard to see clearly. (They actually look better in the smaller screenshot image than they do full-screen when I’m playing.) I correct it and am gratified to find the puzzle solved and Stauf complaining at me again. Wow, I would have been so confused if that hadn't been right, but I'm very relieved to have solved it correctly. That was not easy at all. In fact, it's probably the hardest puzzle so far. The bishop puzzle was difficult to actually complete, but it wasn't very hard to figure out what needed to be done and make some progress. This one was much harder to even start.

There's also a brief scene where we again see Heine working on the puzzle, but this time she places one and then announces she's solved it. Burden seemed to be confident of having solved some things and was willing to share her victories with Edward, but clearly Heine's going to be stiff competition for them as well. Anyway, we now have another path that's available. The one adjacent door seems to lead out of the house and is still locked, but the other door, to the right of the pantry, now opens. It's magic.

Maybe he's dead already?

The door leads into a narrow stone passageway, at the end of which is a tiny low grate with a single opening. It's almost like we get to turn into a mouse to approach and deal with this grate. But first I have to deal with it as a puzzle: it acts like a small sliding tile puzzle in a 3x2 grid, and I have to get two specific curved pieces into position to form a round opening. Oddly enough, when I slide the tiles such that the open space is in the bottom of the opening on the right, bloodstained spikes appear out of the floor there, and then retract again when I slide a piece into the space. This is an easy puzzle though; I've done 4x4 sliding tile puzzles with pictures (Castle of Dr. Brain had a classic "fifteen puzzle"), so a 3x2 puzzle where only the positions of two pieces even matter is pretty trivial.

Past the grate, the passageway leads into a large dungeon maze. When I first step in, I again see the apparition of the woman in white that I saw on the second floor near the beginning of the game; it's even the same animation of her gesturing for me to follow her. I can't actually move around at will; when I move forward, I'm automatically moved along the passageway to the next intersection or dead-end, even around corners. This would make it quite hard to map, but fortunately I don't need to and I don't try. I remember again that there was a rug in one of the bedrooms that had a maze on it and seemed to act like a puzzle even though I couldn't do anything with it there. (Sadly I hadn't actually taken a screenshot of it at the time, so I have to go out of the dungeon and back up the stairs and find it again, and then I have to redo the grate puzzle to get back into the dungeon.)

It’s a rug that also happens to be a map.

I study the rug maze and decide to treat it like a map to the dungeon. It looks like we’re entering from the right side and exiting again just above the entrance. If the map is correct, I have to first proceed straight down the first corridor to the tenth intersection before turning right and following the path through several more twists and turns to get to the exit. In a couple of places, I have to be careful because when I turn, I'm facing a wall and I have to immediately turn again the correct way in order to keep following the path. This works perfectly, though, and soon I have threaded my way through the maze.

At least once, Stauf tries to tell me I'm going the wrong way, but I ignore him and keep following the rug map. (Where is he, anyway? Is he a ghost following me around? He seems to be able to talk to me anywhere but never appears except in the library.) You’d never get anywhere without the map, though; this is a very complex maze with plenty of irrelevant corridors, and you can’t even move just one step at a time.

Stauf really doesn’t want these dead disturbed if they’re guarded by such a complex maze.

I emerge onto a ledge overlooking what looks like an actual crypt (so maybe the message in the cans did mean something after all?) with several coffins in a 3x3 grid arrangement. It's the next puzzle, of course. This part of the game is interesting because through the can puzzle, it's given me exactly one puzzle per room, and I was to some extent able to move from room to room and solve the puzzles in whatever order I wanted. From the grate, through the maze, and now into the crypt has been a sequence of three puzzles in a specific order, not accessible until after solving the pantry.

There's something going on with the coffins being open and closed. I try closing one, and some others open. Have you ever played one of those Lights Out games where pressing a button toggles all the adjacent buttons? It's a lot like that, except that closing a coffin doesn't always toggle all of the adjacent coffins; sometimes it's just the orthogonal ones, and sometimes it's all of the adjacent ones, and sometimes it's all of the adjacent ones except the center one. The flamingo puzzle in Island of Dr. Brain was like this too, although even less consistent. So I fiddle around with the coffins and after a few minutes manage to get all of them closed at once.

Temple’s fears for Tad are justified, apparently.

The path forward becomes available, and I proceed down some steps and into the crypt itself. There I get another scene: Burden (with her hair still down, like when she was in the bedroom with Edward) and Edward holding onto Tad, looking like they're trying to drag him away. Then Temple appears and attacks Edward, snapping his neck. Burden's face starts distorting and eventually what looks like a snake extends out of her mouth like a grotesque tongue, while Temple tries to soothe Tad by telling him it's all an illusion. I have no idea what is going on here, but clearly Burden is dangerous. Edward seems to be out of the picture, at least.

After the scene ends, I click around a bit, but I can't seem to do anything else here. I manage to trigger another passageway that ends up leading back up into the kitchen again. When I check the map, the whole back stairway bit is now marked as solved, although nothing else seems to have become accessible. I discover that there's actually a third level to the map; I can click on that back stairway, and I get another layout with the rooms I went through and the maze all shown on it, but it's all marked as solved now. There's nothing else down there, apparently, so I'm going to have to walk through the house again and see if I can find something else to do.

Completed progress in the basement.

Puzzles solved: 6 (total: 11)
On-screen deaths: 2

Edward: his neck snapped by Temple
Temple: strangled by Burden

Session Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
Total Time: 4 hours 0 minutes

Note Regarding Spoilers and Companion Assist Points: There’s a set of rules regarding spoilers and companion assist points. Please read it here before making any comments that could be considered a spoiler in any way. The short of it is that no points will be given for hints or spoilers given in advance of me requiring one. Please...try not to spoil any part of the game for me...unless I really obviously need the help...or I specifically request assistance. In this instance, I've not made any requests for assistance. Thanks!


  1. great job with the cans ! Now my observations with that particular puzzle.

    I mentioned in the last post, but as a non native english speaker this puzzle is impossible (even to this day), since I don't really know what's a tryst, spryly .. and I get slyly but would have never guessed it. It feels like someone felt cocky about this puzzle like .. hey I found a phrase with no actual vowels, let's make it a puzzle.

    The cans moving around animation is also super slow, and to me, this is the biggest issue with the game. They wanted to really show how 3d and interactive everything was, an artifact of its time.

    Finally, if this puzzle should be remade one day, I can see it having syllabes spelled out, and you have to sort them, like "CRY" "PT", "SLY", "LY", etc. Not easy at all, but also not completely appaling.

    You managed to solve it yes, but .. you had to use a list of words from the internet, It's not exactly cheating, but could you have solve this without any external help ? That's why I said almost no one solved this puzzle without cheating, walkthrough, hints, or help of any kind.

    Again, for a fun run, check the Almost walking series in which they managed to solve this puzzle (3 people playing the game)

    1. I feel like looking at it through the lens of someone who doesn't speak the language is coloring your perception somewhat. Word games really don't translate well across the language barrier. I am sure you would be slightly less offended by a puzzle in your own language that used its least used vowel.
      I mean, even before this puzzle I knew about all the words in the puzzle, albeit they aren't likely to be ones you would regularly use in conversation.

    2. Read my entire post, not just one part.

      Also, I had this game in the 90s, there was no official translation around here and the manual didn't explain anything particular about this puzzle. The game expects you to have a skill of solving a cryptogram with very obscure words. This is unacceptable, even in my native language.

      Fortunately they included the option to skip through the puzzle (and all others), they probably added that after bad feedback from testers

    3. I mention this in that last post, but as a non native English speaker, this puzzle is fully possible, even if you don't know what a tryst is. As Reiko found, there's a logical path to the solution ("by my" is obvious since those words can't be anything else, "crypt" kinda jumps out at you, the fact that three words need to be two-vowel words where both vowels are y will naturally send your mind towards adjectives that end in "ly"...) It really isn't that difficult once you sit down and work with the letters you have, even as a non-native speaker that doesn't know all these words. The correct words very much LOOK like words even if you don't know them.

      As for not having an official translation... nothing else did either unless it was intended for 6 year olds. That's just how it was, computer games were in English, were written for people that have a native grasp of English, and may occasionally assume you know thing you don't, but that was just a fact of life to the point it didn't even register. It's as much of a flaw as "the game costs money".

      The ACTUAL flaw is that there's really two equally logical solutions - in addition to the correct "shy gypsy slyly spryly" it could just as well be "sLy gypsy sHyly spryly"... which I still remember being the solution I orginally arrived at.

    4. Incorrect, all LucasArts graphic adventures had translations at the time, and most SCI Sierra games as well. This is different from other genres where you can just play without really understanding everything that goes on, like, I played through Dune 2 when I was 7 with almost no english, and that same year beat Loom, with spanish game and manual.

    5. But you weren't speaking "as a native Spanish speaker", you were speaking "as a non native English speaker" (name made me assume east Europe somewhere). Whether or not there are any Spanish translations doesn't help any if you can't read Spanish.

    6. I feel like we're not going to accomplish anything here. People generally don't like cryptograms to begin with, and I expect they would skip over this puzzle even if it were relatively mundane.
      As to the obscurity of the words. By and my are very common. Crypt, sly, shy and gypsy are all words that I would generally expect people to know. Tryst and spry are the sticking points, but I've seen spry used enough to describe old men that I suspect that's not too much of an issue, while I don't know of anything for tryst, its the last word and it was probably in some beloved piece of English literature that everyone was forced to read in high school.
      Which now that I think of it is a good thought, there are a lot of words I only know about because Shakespeare used them. Forsooth, which is a word I would never use in most conversations, but I could get in a puzzle situation.
      Also, fair enough on the can switching speed, even though we're arguing about something else that crap is very annoying.

    7. "People generally don't like cryptograms to begin with, and I expect they would skip over this puzzle even if it were relatively mundane."
      I'd argue the opposite, actually. If this was just a boring old regular cryptogram, they'd be more likely to declare it a pointless waste of time to bang your head against, but this one presents such a unique challenge it makes it a lot more fun to see if you can solve. This is one of the most memorable puzzles in computer game history, clearly they were doing SOMETHING right :D

    8. "tryst" is a word I think of only in the context of being a euphemistic way to refer to a clandestine sexual affair.

      I think part of the problem with the puzzle overall is that what you are meant to do is unclear enough that rather than your mind processing it as "Obviously I need to spell a phrase. Oh wait, Y is the only vowel", you process it more as "Since the only vowel is Y, obviously I'm not spelling out a phrase. What am I supposed to do then?" If it were the former, the idiosyncratic choice of letters would be a twist that makes the puzzle more complicated, and that could be a good thing for puzzle enthusiasts (Like, I do a daily puzzle which has a common theme every week and gets progressively harder. I could easily see them doing four of these with increasingly obscure words, then Friday as a Big Twist, drop this one on you). But the lack of context guiding you in elevates the puzzle from merely "Has a difficult twist" to utterly confounding - not only is it hard to guess the words, you're initially inclined to wonder if forming a phrase out of them is even the actual goal of the puzzle.

    9. Figuring out what you're supposed to do is often part of the puzzle. I believe the first hint the book gives you for the can puzzle is just "you're supposed to form a sentence".

    10. Often, yes, but I think not for a puzzle with this kind of twist. Possibly this is a personal preference, but I think that it should be hard either to figure out what you're meant to do or to actually do it, possibly both in turns, but probably not both at the same time

    11. I'm just saying it's a deliberate part of the puzzle rather than an oversight, not that it's necessarily good design. But by design, very few puzzles in 7th Guest actually tell you what your objective is.

    12. As an example, the crypt puzzle Reiko just solved involves closing all the coffins. But since the game doesn't tell you that, I initially tried opening them all instead. Didn't work.

    13. If you don't assume the goal is to form a sentence, then what else would the goal be? Since there's no obvious other goal, it's pretty natural to at least try to form a sentence at some point.

    14. @Anonymous: It's easy to assume (incorrectly) that there is no possible sentence since there aren't any non-Y vowels, and get stalled on what the point of the puzzle is. That's what I did initially, but when I needed to solve it, I came back with the hypothetical "what if there is a valid arrangement?" and went from there. Noticing the two-letter words helped to make a start. The puzzle is just obscure enough that it's non-obvious both what to do and how to do it. In other words, I think Ross said it very well.

    15. I think that's the intent, actually, that you'll initially look at the puzzle and wonder what you're supposed to do because it surely isn't forming a sentence... and then start pondering "or IS it? IS it possible to form a sentence without any vowels but Ys?"

  2. I checked the solution online before you started out of sheer curiosity, and I doubt I am the only one impressed that you solved it without a walkthrough. Nice to see your thought process in solving it too!

    If we do go into a (friendly!) discussion of the words used and if someone would have had access to such information in those days, you would still have had access to a dictionary that would have given you much the same information albeit with a lot more effort. If you had to solve it using that method it would have certainly been possible just taking much longer.

  3. There is surely a body of specialised knowledge among cryptic crossword fans and puzzlers unlikely to necessarily be shared by lay people; eg. every serious Scrabble player will have a complete grasp of all three letter words containing the letter J in the official Scrabble dictionary, or every Rubix Cube speed-solver will understand the basic premise of making all sides' colours match. A puzzle that rates as seemingly insurmountable to the average person on the street likely wouldn't hold up for long against someone who is, you know, part of its world. People get foiled by mazes and Tower of Hanoi puzzles because they get distracted or bored, not because the problems can't be undone by following a simple algorithm.

    1. That's true. I'll admit crosswords are not my strength, and I am not a purist when it comes to solving this kind of word puzzle, so I didn't hesitate to find a word list but solved the rest of the puzzle logically.

  4. I feel like now that I'm older I would have liked a second chance at solving the cans puzzle. I don't remember how I got past it in my youth, but I'm pretty sure I cheated, being a bit of a scrub in those days. As you discovered, there's a process to solving this puzzle that I've noticed, mostly in other games, focus on solving the littler words first then working onto what's left.
    While perhaps not the best puzzle idea for a game with a small number of puzzles, basing a word puzzle around one of the lesser used letters is a very clever idea and I think they executed it as well as they could considering the character who introduces the puzzles is incredibly unhelpful on purpose. I feel like adding insult to injury hasn't really helped any kind of game in the long run...

  5. Whatever its faults, it was very memorable to me - the only puzzle AND solution I still remember 30 years later. I remember solving this as a teenager - I remember it strongly enough that I still remembered "gypsy tryst by my crypt" (I don't remember what other words I remembered for sure because I didn't want to post about it BEFORE the solution came up and now I'm spoiled by seeing the answer. I had either shyly or spryly in memory but I don't think both)

    As I recall we didn't have to cheat, but we _did_ have 3 of us playing the game together so we had multiple people able to come up/spot words (and we're all native English speakers)

  6. "You’d never get anywhere without the map"
    Like any maze operating on real world logic (ie no weird warps or spinners and whatnot) it's actually incredibly easy to solve by just hugging either the right or left wall. It's how I first solved it, I didn't realize there was a map until afterwards.

    1. ouch, that works except when you have the exit in an isolated block not touching any edges, like a square in the middle of the maze

    2. This particular maze would work with the right-hand trick, true, but it would take a lot longer. I would have gotten tired of it long before I had any idea whether I was getting anywhere, since the corridors are entirely featureless.

    3. Likewise, I simply brute forced the maze without noticing the map. It's tedious but not hard, and many of the unskippable animations in this game are tedious anyway.