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A systematic approach to solving puzzles?

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Puzzle solving! It’s not my favorite thing ever. I am hoping that someone can help me become a better puzzle-solver.

I have noticed that my problem is that puzzles seem to involve two stages in most games, and it is the first stage I can’t seem to figure out how to deal with.  The two stages seem to be:

1-Figuring out the rules/underlying principle of the puzzle.

2-Working through the puzzle based on the rules/underlying principle.

If I know the rules for a puzzle and understand more or less what I am supposed to be doing, I usually am patient and methodical enough to follow through and solve the puzzle.

But if I do not understand the basic underlying principle governing a puzzle, I feel totally lost, and have no idea what to do or how to begin systematically determining what the underlying rules are. I usually cannot even make sense of what I am looking at.

Worse, even after I look up the solution, sometimes I still don’t grok the puzzle.

If anyone here excels at this first stage, what is your basic process? How do you go from looking at a puzzle you have never encountered before to figuring out what you have to do to solve it?


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If I think it’s something that will leave me a couple brain cells afterward, I go slowly at it. I make tiny adjustments in the most seemingly insignificant things and see what the results are. When I get a reaction in the game to what I did I make a mental note of it if it doesn’t lead to exactly what I’m after. I continue that way until I get what I’m after. Sometimes it can take hours or even days to figure it all out, but I’m tenacious and methodical with things of this nature.

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6 minutes ago, The Blackangel said:

Sometimes it can take hours or even days to figure it all out

I do remember taking that approach with Myst on PC back in the day. I guess that I had the patience with that because it was literally a puzzle game, and thus I would just keep working on the puzzles at school and such.

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