Cairn


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TrickyCairnCairn, the new point-and-click puzzle adventure by Aaron Price, takes place in a land that is cursed. For centuries, countless have tried to explore it; To discover its secrets. None have returned. Some claim it's coincidence, others say something keeps them from leaving, but you've never been one to take them at their word... The intro goes on like this for a while, but let's speed ahead to the point: You're in a meadow. It's eerie. That monument over there looks like a sliding puzzle. Get to it, dude. Cairn is played entirely with the mouse. By moving to the left or right side of the screen you pan across the meadow to find various ruins, plants, and journal entries. Clicking interacts with them. Explore the world, unlock its mysteries, and find your way home.

Cairn reminds me quite a bit of Myst, and I mean that with both positive and negative connotations. On the good side, Cairn builds its atmosphere perfectly, with a intriguing fusion of the organic and the mechanical that reminds me of the tone of the Samorost series. Also, there are some pretty neat brain teasing challenges. Yes, some of them are a little familiar (or maybe I've just been playing a lot of Curvy lately), but they're well presented and give you that satisfying moment of "A-Ha!" when you've figured out the logic behind them.

Of course... that implies that you've figured out the logic behind them, which brings us to the downsides. Very few instructions are given in Cairn, something that, in no small part, contributes to its air of mystery. However, the logic behind the puzzles can be quite obtuse, even opaque. There were puzzles I solved by brutely forcing every combination, and others that I didn't realizing I was solving until something happened. I don't think I'll be alone in saying that I spent a great deal of time furiously clicking everything, trying to make something happen, then feeling a little dumb when I realized what it was I was supposed to do. Also, there is the game's text. Boy howdy there's quite a bit of it, and it doesn't convey much. It's well-written, yes, but there's only so many ways to say "Man, this place is vaguely mysterious" before you run out of adjectives.

Despite the above, I quite liked Cairn. It's short, it's sweet, and it put my brain through a gauntlet. It's the perfect thing for coffee-breakers looking for a challenge.

Play Cairn

Walkthrough Guide


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Cairn Walkthrough

The Five Rocks and the Seesaw

  • You can solve the puzzles to obtain the rocks in any order. The blue rock is already there.

  • Gold rock:

    On the far left, click all the flying insects and they'll arrange into a pattern. When you've got them all, they'll begin flying in specific directions. Mentally trace their movements and copy them onto the stone below them by clicking the segments; they should look like a triangle intersecting a bowtie. When everything's correct, click the gold rock and move it next to the seesaw.

  • Black rock:

    Just to the right of the sticks is an arrangement of dials. Click each one to rotate it 45 degrees, but each one you rotate also moves another one. The trick is to get four of them correct, then move the last one halfway to its goal, then fix whatever that broke, then fix whatever THAT broke, and so on. The last fix should move the last dial right into place. Then click the center dial until it comes loose, then get the black rock.

  • Green rock:

    Just to the right of the dials is a strange system of vines and circles. Click inside any circle to start the puzzle. If you've played Net or any game like it, you should know the drill: click the circles to rotate them, and connect everything without any loose ends. Start with the circles that only have one possible orientation and work from there. Once it's all done, click the green rock.

  • Red rock:

    To the right, between the mushrooms and the dials, there's a tablet; click it for a close-up. The trick to this puzzle is to place the stones into the holes below them so that every hole contains either a stone or a shadow. When placed, each stone generates one or more shadows corresponding to the spots on it. No shadows should go to waste. When the puzzle is solved, take the red rock.

  • Once all five rocks are by the seesaw, it's time to solve it. The wind blows in whatever direction the seesaw's down end is on. To balance it and make the wind stop, put the blue and black rocks on one end, and the other three on the other.

Flowers and Sticks

  • Now that the wind's stopped, it's time to toy with something you couldn't before. See the two purple flowers? Mouse over the one on the right until a little one-leafed thing appears and begins to spin, then click it to make it follow your mouse cursor.

  • The flying creature will only follow the mouse cursor if you stick close to it, so go back for it if you need to. Note that if you tried this while the wind was still blowing, the creature would immediately crash due to it.

  • There are two things you need the creature to do for you. First, guide it to the right and get it to pull out the stick stuck in the ground next to the mushrooms (click), then have it carry it to the other sticks and use it to fix the broken one (click again).

  • Now, mouse over the left purple flower until it produces a brown seed. Pick up the seed (click) and carry it to the stone ball to the left of the valley. Crash the flying creature beneath the ball and a flower will grow, pushing the ball down to the bottom of the valley.

Endgame

  • What was all this for? Glad you asked. Go get the wind blowing to the left again by picking up any rock from the right end of the seesaw. Note that when the wind blows to the left, it blows into a cave. Normally it comes out of an invisible hole in the bottom of the valley-- you may have seen that with the white seeds-- but now you've plugged it with the stone ball.

  • The wind is now doing something to the stone ball, but more relevant are the mushrooms. Click them and they'll emit tones. Higher mushrooms emit higher tones. Good place to play a tune, but what tune?

  • Go back to the sticks. They're repeating a four-note tune over and over. It used to be a three-note tune, but, well, you fixed one of the sticks. Remember it: with the lowest note as 1 and the highest as 4, it's 1-3-2-4.

  • Go play that tune on the mushrooms and they'll activate the big stones on the far right. Now this is a tile sliding puzzle: most people hate those. Click stones to move them. Just focus on getting one or two stones into place at a time. What you're trying to assemble will look like a donut with the bottom missing.

  • Once you click the last stone in place, congratulate yourself-- you're out!

Walkthrough:

Black Rock:

Slide to the rock with rings on it.

Notice the slit on the top, as well as on every ring. Perhaps they should be aligned.

Counting outside-in:
1 turns 4
2 turns 5
3 turns 1
4 turns 2
5 turns 3

5x3,2x4,4x6,1x6

Click on the middle ring twice.

Yellow Rock:

Slide to the rock with lines on it.

See all those orange bugs above? Perhaps they have something to do with the stone.

Click on all of them. Does the shape they make look familiar?

Watch the lines that they make when they move. Duplicate it on the stone below.

Red Rock:

Scroll right to the stone above the mushrooms.

You can drag the stones with spots onto the holes.

Each stone has pits on it. Spots are created in the direction the pits point.

You must have a spot or stone in every available hole for all three puzzles.

Counting stones from left to right;

First Puzzle:


2X
XX1
--X

Second Puzzle:


-X
X4
2XX3
X1XX

Third Puzzle:


-X2X
X1X
3X
X

Green Rock:

Slide to the large vine circles.

Click on them to make glowing yellow lines appear.

Perhaps they should be lined up so there are no free ends...

Rock Puzzle:

You should have all five rocks.

If you place one of the rocks on the far side of the stick, the wind goes to the right. (You can tell by looking at the direction the flowers are going)

What would happen if you balanced the stick?

Left side: blue, black

Right side: yellow, red, green

Plant Puzzle:

You should have the wind off at this point.

Slide over to the purple flower next to the balancing puzzle. Click on it.

Once the helicopter-like seed has grown, click on it. Wait for it to begin following your mouse.

Slide to the very left, making sure the seed is following your mouse.

Click on the purple bud there, wait for the pod to grow.

Click on the pod. The seed should pick it up.

Slide right to the circular stone.

Guide the pod to the ground left of the stone. A flower will grow, pushing the stone off of the hill.

Mushroom puzzle:

You should have the circular stone blocking the hole at this point, and there should be no wind.

Grow another helicopter seed, and slide right to the wood stick next to the piece of paper.

Click on the stick. The seed should pick it up.

Fly the seed back over to all the other sticks.

Click on the seed when hovering over the broken stick. The seed should repair the stick.

Go to the balancing puzzle and remove a stone to make wind flow left again.

Slide right. Now, if you click on the mushrooms, they make different notes.

Perhaps if you duplicate the pattern from the sticks?

From right to left: 1324

Rock Puzzle:

8-right, 5-down, 3-down then left, 2-right then down, 1-rightx2, 5-up then left, 4-right, 7-up, 8-left, 9-left, 6-down, 3-left, 5-right then up, 8-up, 9-left, 5-right, 4-right, 7-up, 8-left, 5-down then right.

53 Comments

hothotpot Author Profile Page August 3, 2011 10:46 AM

I found this to be a very well put together little point and click adventure. There was only one point where I really got stuck (and I agree, the logic on that point was a little fuzzy) but other than that I thought the puzzles progressed along fairly well. I usually had a good sense of what to do, and early on there's definitely a bit of lee-way as to which puzzles you complete first. Took me maybe 20 minutes to complete, and it was well worth the time! I hope to see a sequel at some point!

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give me the darn stick!

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argh stupid lining up of the lines stone...

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anybody know how to solve the stone on the far left?

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This is a pretty good game, but I'm stuck after putting the

5 stones in the right places.

I've solved everything on the left except the sticks, too.

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I still only have 4 stones. blue, green, red, orange.
Not sure what else to do.

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Yup, I'm stuck. and here I was all thinking I'd get to do my first JiG Walkthrough, too. Sulk.

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Hmm, looks like the stick

clues you in on the order to push the mushroom notes

but I was able to brute force it by trying the various combinations, since there aren't that many. Anyone figured out how to get the stick?

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Could someone explain the rock with the lines on at at the far left?

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@Zero-k

You need a black stone too.

Have you solved the concentric circle puzzle? Did you get the reward? Check the center circle.

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Chasmosaur Author Profile Page August 3, 2011 12:19 PM

The black stone:

is inside the circle/rotation puzzle. Click the center circle twice

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Power of posting....

Got all the 5 stones. I can control the wind now. Got the stone rolling downhill.

What now?

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Nevermind, I get it:

You have to click the bugs first.

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I need help with:

The seed - once I "couple" the two spores, I don't know where else to place it besides next to the round stone. It sprouts, grows and then dies.

And the little stick buried next to the last note (near the large stones). It doesn't come out.

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@BlueTaslem:
hint - I think there's something buggy with that puzzle.

Watch the flying patterns of the bugs above the rock. You may have to click on all of them first, I can't remember.

I should say I'm stuck after turning off the wind myself. I can

get the spinning seed pod from the flower by the teeter-totter, and drag and combine it with the seed pod from the flower on the far left.

but then what?

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Chasmosaur Author Profile Page August 3, 2011 12:24 PM

@BlueTaslem

It has to do with the orange insects flying nearby. Have you clicked on those?

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Could someone help?

I've gotten all 5 stones (Black,Red,Blue,Green,Yellow)
But I still need to figure out what to do with the stones, how to fix the sticks, how to roll the rock down the hill, any everything else.

Anyone help me?

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Agh, I get it, again. I had to see a tiny bit of a walkthrough first. Now it makes sense.

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lerxt, your description helped me figure that out ;-)

hint - maybe you're not planting the seed in the right spot?

Plant it just to the left of the rock. It'll grow and roll the rock down.

But then what?

I can play notes on the mushrooms, but what to play? I can hear 3 notes on the far left, but they're on a different scale.

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@RacerX

That's as far as I got too.

I can't play notes on the 'shrooms however. Is there a change in wind direction required?

The notes come from the sticks/rods on the other end of the screen.

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@RacerX

I think you need to fix the sticks to figure out what order to play the shrooms. I haven't figured out how to get the stick out yet, though.

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Chasmosaur Author Profile Page August 3, 2011 12:39 PM

I think what's happening...

Is that you have to repair the broken stick - from left to right, the mushrooms seem to play the same tones as the sticks...if they were intact. But with the one stick broken, the tune isn't in harmony. So how do you fix the one stick?

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Anonymous August 3, 2011 12:41 PM

hhii8888:

Try playing around with the purple flowers

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for the stick to fix, what picks stuff up?

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@RacerX

I never got the stick out, but I randomly clicked on the mushrooms and then got (from left) 1, 3, 2, 4 as the sequence (first try too.) That unlocked the final puzzle for me.

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I'm out but I didn't complete all the puzzles.

In playing around with the sounds the mushrooms made I actually stumbled on the correct sequence and got it to proceed without having to fix the stick on the left side of the puzzle.

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Anonymous August 3, 2011 1:10 PM

to move the broken stick in the ground

use a helicopter seed to move the broken stick to the reeds.

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MirrorImage August 3, 2011 1:11 PM

I've noticed:

when you have the wind blowing to the left and you stand in front of the sticks, you can see them vibrate when they make the sound. I can't relate that to the mushrooms though. I feel like I'm getting closer to figuring it out.

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Anonymous August 3, 2011 1:11 PM

Chasmosaur:

Seeds don't have eyes, and are apparently quite a bit stronger than you.

RacerX:

Don't worry about the tone difference (or octave), just have them be in the same "order".

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mike_311 Author Profile Page August 3, 2011 1:13 PM

how do you gt the mushrooms to play sounds or how do you get the seeds, when i make it fly i cant grab it.

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G.H.Fount Author Profile Page August 3, 2011 1:19 PM

Mike-

You have to click the seed to make it open it's little grabber feet thingies.

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MirrorImage August 3, 2011 1:21 PM

oooooooooh!

if you'll notice, when they vibrate, every other one vibrates. you don't need to duplicate the sound, but rather the pattern on the 'shrooms. trial and error will get you there. Pay attention to the order so you can post a proper spoiler. I missed my order.

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SonicLover Author Profile Page August 3, 2011 1:37 PM

Cairn Walkthrough

The Five Rocks and the Seesaw

  • You can solve the puzzles to obtain the rocks in any order. The blue rock is already there.

  • Gold rock:

    On the far left, click all the flying insects and they'll arrange into a pattern. When you've got them all, they'll begin flying in specific directions. Mentally trace their movements and copy them onto the stone below them by clicking the segments; they should look like a triangle intersecting a bowtie. When everything's correct, click the gold rock and move it next to the seesaw.

  • Black rock:

    Just to the right of the sticks is an arrangement of dials. Click each one to rotate it 45 degrees, but each one you rotate also moves another one. The trick is to get four of them correct, then move the last one halfway to its goal, then fix whatever that broke, then fix whatever THAT broke, and so on. The last fix should move the last dial right into place. Then click the center dial until it comes loose, then get the black rock.

  • Green rock:

    Just to the right of the dials is a strange system of vines and circles. Click inside any circle to start the puzzle. If you've played Net or any game like it, you should know the drill: click the circles to rotate them, and connect everything without any loose ends. Start with the circles that only have one possible orientation and work from there. Once it's all done, click the green rock.

  • Red rock:

    To the right, between the mushrooms and the dials, there's a tablet; click it for a close-up. The trick to this puzzle is to place the stones into the holes below them so that every hole contains either a stone or a shadow. When placed, each stone generates one or more shadows corresponding to the spots on it. No shadows should go to waste. When the puzzle is solved, take the red rock.

  • Once all five rocks are by the seesaw, it's time to solve it. The wind blows in whatever direction the seesaw's down end is on. To balance it and make the wind stop, put the blue and black rocks on one end, and the other three on the other.

Flowers and Sticks

  • Now that the wind's stopped, it's time to toy with something you couldn't before. See the two purple flowers? Mouse over the one on the right until a little one-leafed thing appears and begins to spin, then click it to make it follow your mouse cursor.

  • The flying creature will only follow the mouse cursor if you stick close to it, so go back for it if you need to. Note that if you tried this while the wind was still blowing, the creature would immediately crash due to it.

  • There are two things you need the creature to do for you. First, guide it to the right and get it to pull out the stick stuck in the ground next to the mushrooms (click), then have it carry it to the other sticks and use it to fix the broken one (click again).

  • Now, mouse over the left purple flower until it produces a brown seed. Pick up the seed (click) and carry it to the stone ball to the left of the valley. Crash the flying creature beneath the ball and a flower will grow, pushing the ball down to the bottom of the valley.

Endgame

  • What was all this for? Glad you asked. Go get the wind blowing to the left again by picking up any rock from the right end of the seesaw. Note that when the wind blows to the left, it blows into a cave. Normally it comes out of an invisible hole in the bottom of the valley-- you may have seen that with the white seeds-- but now you've plugged it with the stone ball.

  • The wind is now doing something to the stone ball, but more relevant are the mushrooms. Click them and they'll emit tones. Higher mushrooms emit higher tones. Good place to play a tune, but what tune?

  • Go back to the sticks. They're repeating a four-note tune over and over. It used to be a three-note tune, but, well, you fixed one of the sticks. Remember it: with the lowest note as 1 and the highest as 4, it's 1-3-2-4.

  • Go play that tune on the mushrooms and they'll activate the big stones on the far right. Now this is a tile sliding puzzle: most people hate those. Click stones to move them. Just focus on getting one or two stones into place at a time. What you're trying to assemble will look like a donut with the bottom missing.

  • Once you click the last stone in place, congratulate yourself-- you're out!

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The rock with the dials was rough ... I'm still not sure how I did it lol

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Walkthrough:

Black Rock:

Slide to the rock with rings on it.

Notice the slit on the top, as well as on every ring. Perhaps they should be aligned.

Counting outside-in:
1 turns 4
2 turns 5
3 turns 1
4 turns 2
5 turns 3

5x3,2x4,4x6,1x6

Click on the middle ring twice.

Yellow Rock:

Slide to the rock with lines on it.

See all those orange bugs above? Perhaps they have something to do with the stone.

Click on all of them. Does the shape they make look familiar?

Watch the lines that they make when they move. Duplicate it on the stone below.

Red Rock:

Scroll right to the stone above the mushrooms.

You can drag the stones with spots onto the holes.

Each stone has pits on it. Spots are created in the direction the pits point.

You must have a spot or stone in every available hole for all three puzzles.

Counting stones from left to right;

First Puzzle:


2X
XX1
--X

Second Puzzle:


-X
X4
2XX3
X1XX

Third Puzzle:


-X2X
X1X
3X
X

Green Rock:

Slide to the large vine circles.

Click on them to make glowing yellow lines appear.

Perhaps they should be lined up so there are no free ends...

Rock Puzzle:

You should have all five rocks.

If you place one of the rocks on the far side of the stick, the wind goes to the right. (You can tell by looking at the direction the flowers are going)

What would happen if you balanced the stick?

Left side: blue, black

Right side: yellow, red, green

Plant Puzzle:

You should have the wind off at this point.

Slide over to the purple flower next to the balancing puzzle. Click on it.

Once the helicopter-like seed has grown, click on it. Wait for it to begin following your mouse.

Slide to the very left, making sure the seed is following your mouse.

Click on the purple bud there, wait for the pod to grow.

Click on the pod. The seed should pick it up.

Slide right to the circular stone.

Guide the pod to the ground left of the stone. A flower will grow, pushing the stone off of the hill.

Mushroom puzzle:

You should have the circular stone blocking the hole at this point, and there should be no wind.

Grow another helicopter seed, and slide right to the wood stick next to the piece of paper.

Click on the stick. The seed should pick it up.

Fly the seed back over to all the other sticks.

Click on the seed when hovering over the broken stick. The seed should repair the stick.

Go to the balancing puzzle and remove a stone to make wind flow left again.

Slide right. Now, if you click on the mushrooms, they make different notes.

Perhaps if you duplicate the pattern from the sticks?

From right to left: 1324

Rock Puzzle:

8-right, 5-down, 3-down then left, 2-right then down, 1-rightx2, 5-up then left, 4-right, 7-up, 8-left, 9-left, 6-down, 3-left, 5-right then up, 8-up, 9-left, 5-right, 4-right, 7-up, 8-left, 5-down then right.

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Damn, got ninja'd. :P

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Anonymous August 3, 2011 4:25 PM

Thanks for the walkthrough, in the end I thought

To much Arnold Schwarzenegger

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.erinnn. Author Profile Page August 3, 2011 4:26 PM

Ugh. Really frustrated by the fact that the final puzzle requires pixel hunting.

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Username Author Profile Page August 3, 2011 4:28 PM

Note to developers, don't include a sound puzzle in a game where you have the option to mute the sound. Or, if you're like me, you're playing at work and have to keep the speakers off.

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Chasmosaur Author Profile Page August 3, 2011 5:25 PM

@JIGuest

I actually tried the solution for the broken stick indicated in the walkthroughs. Twice. It didn't work for me. Don't know what that has to do with your comment. Maybe it's a a little bit of a pixel hunt. I'm trying it again.

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I've got the correct thing for my farthest-left puzzle but no rock. Is there some trick to it?

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Same issue as Shudog. I've got the right pattern, but no rock. Does the order you place the lines matter?

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Line order shouldn't matter... I didn't have any trouble any of the times I solved that puzzle. Perhaps it's a weird glitch?

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@Chamosaur: I was only able to fix the stick after I

made the rock roll

even though the first walkthrough says to do it the other way around. Don't know why, maybe it's buggy (for real, not a pun).

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For the pattern on the far left rock:

Two of the triangles have an overlapping line. You will have to click that line once for each of them.

I will not be able to finish this game. I have a special hatred for puzzles like that line/dial puzzle.

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I really enjoyed most of this game. It had some very nice puzzles -- the line/pattern one, the dial one

Which I solved algebraicly, can't believe it worked, woo!

and the one with the little stones/dots were the ones I liked best. I was annoyed that the part of the game I liked the least:

the flying seed -- dragging it around was annoying, having to repeat from the start every time you ran it into the ground in the wrong place or did something out of sequence was more annoying, and having to use that mechanism TWICE was the cherry on top of the annoying cake --

was so, well, annoying. And I had the same lack-of-sound issue that others mentioned despite having my speakers turned on; I must have turned the sound off accidentally somehow.

Worth playing for the other good puzzles, especially if you like logic-y stuff.

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polpotpie Author Profile Page August 4, 2011 9:06 AM

Very well crafted game and puzzles, definately would like to see more like this. My only beef:

Without having seen walkthrough hints, I tried positioning and clicking the seed over and around the round rock and nothing happened. After reading walkthrough,I knew that the seed went there an it still took a couple of minutes to find how and where to plant the seed. Throw the flag! unnecessary pixel hunting!

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dylpickles Author Profile Page August 4, 2011 11:13 PM

I thought it was a really good game, except for the very last puzzle. I HATE sliding puzzles with a fiery passion.

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Pretty game, but a number of the puzzles made no sense. Generally, I felt lost, even with the notepad hints. I found myself more frustrated than entertained.

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I think this game has a lot of good potential, but it could benefit from some reworking. The actual, literal puzzles were intuitive and fair (and actually a bit easy); it was the "Myst-style, what do I do with these objects, what do I click on" types of puzzles that I found frustrating, unintuitive and actually somewhat buggy.

The last puzzle I had big trouble with - I simply could not operate it. Maybe it's because I was using the touchpad on my macbook, but I just could not get my mouse to connect with the puzzle pieces to slide them. I moved one piece back and forth, but after minutes of struggling that was it. I plugged in a regular mouse, and it became doable, but still difficult.

I give it 3 stars for being generally fun and playable, but needs work.

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I can't stand coming to walkthroughs with these sorts of games but it had to be done.

I CANNOT DO THE LEFTMOST ROCK PUZZLE !!!

I have all the lines in the right places but nothing seams to be happening, is there some sort of nack to it?

Please help thank you!

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I had difficulty with the leftmost rock puzzle as well. I think there are more bugs in this game than the ones flying over that stone. When I finally gave up and looked at the walkthrough, it turned out that I had done exactly what I was supposed to with that stone, even more than once, and it simply had no effect. After I read the walkthrough, I went back and tried it one more time, and it worked.

Furthermore, I never managed to get the stick out of the ground, and therefore didn't do whatever you were supposed to do with it. I brute-forced my way through the mushrooms, and that was all I needed, which felt very unsatisfying.

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Okay, finally figured out how to get the stick. Apparently, when reading the walkthroughs, I was adding an unnecessary step to the process.

With the wind stopped, click on the flower to the right of the lever, and a seed thing comes out. Click on that seed, and it should start following your cursor. Take that seed directly to the stick, and click on it. You should now have the stick, and putting it where it belongs should be easy.

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