Today we discuss the central puzzle mechanic of Albatross. As an example, I will use one of the first difficult puzzles you encounter in-game.
Imagine a large cement slab blocking your way down a corridor. It’s on tracks, so you can slide it forward or backward along a single axis along the corridor, but you can’t topple it over or damage it in any way. Although moveable, it is an impassable wall.
Now, imagine you can time travel. To make it simple, your travel is restricted to 24 hours into the future and back again to the present.
You will have already used this skill for navigating around simple obstacles at the beginning of game. You’ll have avoided collapsed floors by traveling to the past where they are still intact (see above GIF). You’ll have jumped between platforms that are offset in past and future. But this slab puzzle is the first time the obstacle is in the same position and completely intact in both present and future. Not so easy to get around.
To solve it, you need to understand causality. Assuming a closed system (read: no one else is interfering with your actions in between now and tomorrow) when you move an object in the PRESENT, it will also have moved in the FUTURE. If I slide the cement slab forward down the corridor, then sit on the floor and wait 24 hours, it will still be resting where I left it.
But some really cool stuff happens when you travel to the future and back again. If after I sit on the floor for those 24 hours, I stand up and then slide the cement slab backwards, to the beginning of the hallway… and then TIME TRAVEL BACK TO YESTERDAY, the slab will no longer be at the beginning of the hallway, but at the end: it hasn’t been moved backwards yet. That doesn’t happen for another 24 hours.
And now, since you have the power to hop instantly between today and tomorrow… if you time travel from the future back to the PRESENT, where the cement slab is near the end of the hallway, walk right up to it, then time swap for the final time… the cement slab will now be behind you, and you are free to go on your way.
I know, I know, it’s insanely hard to visualize; an image would definitely be better. But I don’t want to completely spoil the puzzle for you :)
That is the very FIRST puzzle dealing with causality. They get much more complex. We have over 100 of them.
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