Solution: The Dating Sim

Written by Benji Nguyen and Shuxin Zhan
Art: Melissa Yuan

This puzzle was developed using the RenPy visual novel engine. Thanks to the RenPy team!

The puzzle involves "dating" five mysterious figures. Unfortunately, Paper Luigi doesn't have much of a chance to get to know them before he is forced to choose a date.

Good conversation is important to the success of any date, so the first step is picking the answers to your date's questions that fits with the topic:

11Philosophical schoolReductionistsInterpolMattachine SocietyRat Pack
12Line of latitudeExosphereDebye RadiusEquatorHeaviside Layer
13Disney songsEverlongHonor to Us AllRed BalloonRock Around The Clock
14Defunct magazineInstyleNational GeographicGood HousekeepingTeen
21Barn activityIce SkatingMountain ClimbingNappingEquestrian
22Henry James booksOur Man In HavanaThe Will To BelieveDaisy MillerHigh Fidelity
23Moscow landmarkElbrusLena PillarsPeterhof PalaceEpiphany Monastery
24NYC landmarkHolland TunnelFountain Of Four RiversUluruLiberty Bell
31Umami flavoringsUgliDashiSaltEggs
32RappersLana Del ReyIggy AzaleaElvis PresleySade
33Game systemsNeo GeoSuper SoakerPower HourApache Cassandra
34ImpossibilitiesRegiomontanus' ProblemTowers Of HanoiIs there a positive integer solution to the Diophantine equation x^n + y^n = z^n for n > 2Stable Marriage Problem
41KnotsDon KnottsOval Of CassiniNinotchkaUnderwriter's Knot
42DocumentariesThin Red LineMan On WireUgetsu MonogatariScenes From A Marriage
43Industrial revolution inventionsGas LightingElectric CarsThe WheelHelicopter
44MusicalsEverymanSizwe Bansi Is DeadNext To NormalEquus
51LegendsImpossible BurgerGreat GatsbyChupacabraNorman Mailer
52Geometric theoremsOptical Sine TheoremTheorema EgregiumRolle's TheoremEquipartition Theorem
53Basketball strategiesPistol OffenseOne-three-oneLong BallEnd-to-end Encryption
54Mathematical constructsAtomiumKoch SnowflakeSchrodinger's CatEdgeworth Box

The first letters of the wrong answers spell IMREDHERRING, IMNOTHELPFUL, USELESSPARTS, DONTUSETHESE, and IGNOREPLEASE to indicate their irrelevance to solving the puzzle.

If you are able to hold least three successful conversations, the identity of the mysterious figures are revealed:


After arranging the correct answer in the grid at the end of the game, the first letters spell the clue phrase REDUCEDIMTHENGOTHINK:

QuestionFigure 1Figure 2Figure 3Figure 4Figure 5
1ReductionistsEquestrianDashiUnderwriter's KnotChupacabra
2EquatorDaisy MillerIggy AzaleaMan On WireTheorema Egregium
3Honor to Us AllEpiphany MonasteryNeo GeoGas LightingOne-three-one
4TeenHolland TunnelInteger solution to
x^n + y^n = z^n for n > 2
Next To NormalKoch Snowflake

This is an instruction to first reduce the dimension of the figures. Then, contained in the dialogue of the game where Paper Luigi is thinking are words that when combined with the flattened shapes is an alternate answer to the questions in the game.

Those alternate answers match the given enumerations, which extracts the phase answer GENTLEMAN MEDAL.

FigureQuestionTopicAlternate AnswerExtracted Letter
Sphere1Philosophical schoolVienna CircleA
Cube1Barn activitySquare DancingN
Tesseract1Umami flavoringsStock CubeS
Tetrahedron1LegendsBermuda TriangleE
Sphere2Line of latitudeArctic CircleR
Cube2Henry James booksWashington SquareG
Tesseract2RappersIce CubeE
Plane2DocumentariesThe Thin Blue LineN
Tetrahedron2Geometric theoremsTriangle InequalityT
Sphere3Disney songsCircle of LifeL
Cube3Moscow landmarkRed SquareE
Tesseract 3Game systemsGame CubeM
Plane3Industrial revolution inventionsAssembly LineA
Tetrahedron 3Basketball strategiesTriangle OffenseN
Sphere4Defunct magazineFamily CircleM
Cube4NYC landmarkTimes SquareE
Tesseract4ImpossibilitiesDoubling the CubeD
Plane4MusicalsA Chorus LineA
Tetrahedron4Mathematical constructsPascal's TriangleL

Author’s Notes

Our main concern when constructing this puzzle was to make sure the solve path was illuminated enough to prevent solvers from being lost. Our original model for the dating sim puzzle was a lot more complicated and involved Paper Luigi going on a series of dates with more complicated branching structure that required multiple replays and route-jumping to work out the solution... In any case, we decided to distill things down considerably and keep the solve path relatively simple, keeping in line with the overall editorial vision of the hunt.

As a small side note, it's fairly easy to unwind the game and look through our Renpy code. This partially motivated us to keep the answer out of the game and to obfuscate the intermediate a-has. The best you can do with the code is figure out which answers work for which questions, but that's easy enough without looking through the code.

We were somewhat wed to the counterintuitive ordering of the answers for extracting the intermediate clue and answer phrases because we didn't want the first date to only have the first letters of the word ANSWER extracted. The grid at the end of each date was added after a few playtests to motivate solvers into ordering with the correct method. In playtesting, we also noticed that many solvers skipped past the intermediate phrases or didn't realize that the "GO THINK" part of the clue phrase meant to refer to the thinking texts in the story. We were ultimately okay with that, reasoning that a strong team with the intuition and knowledge to make the connection between the shapes and answers would still be able to solve the puzzle just fine. Perhaps we should've made that step more necessary, but our playtesters seemed to enjoy the puzzle irrespective of whether they fully used the intermediate phrase.

Despite simplicity being an explicit design goal, we still wish we could've done something more with the medium. We hope that some of the peripheral features of this puzzle (humor, art, interactivity) were able to make up for that. Ultimately, we feel like it was best that this puzzle primarily focus on a simple concept (the flattening of the shapes), but perhaps in the future we'll revisit this medium for something a bit more intricate...