Sunday 1 May 2022

This Alien Caused Me Months of Anguish

Visitor Q+ from Frederic
ResQ by Eric
Many months ago I missed out on managing to buy the ResQ sequential discovery puzzle from Eric's Cubic Dissection and bemoaned the fact on line afterwards (the puzzle was sold out of my basket whilst I logged into PayPal. It had been a big hit amongst the puzzle community (reviewed by Ken and it's predecessor Visitor Q by Brent). I was flabbergasted shortly afterwards when a wonderful friend and all-round generous chap (thank you Andrew) offered me a copy of the ResQ on loan so that I would not miss out and so that I could write a review and then I was truly delighted when Frederic Boucher contacted me afterwards to offer me one last copy of the Visitor Q puzzle to make up for it and then telling me that he had added an extra step to my copy to make it special. 

I was staggered when a package arrived with a whole bunch of puzzles which I am still working my way through. I have said to Frederic that I do not understand how his mind works - he has designed things that I can barely understand let alone create myself. There is one particular packing puzzle that I am completely stumped on despite trying to solve since October. Both the ResQ and the Visitor Q+ has been sitting in my rather upsetting pile 'o puzzles to solve for a while being picked up every few days or weeks and not getting anywhere.

I literally was unable to do even the first move. I was aware from the instructions on Eric's site that there were tools to be found and used during the solution and I sort of understood that this would also be the case with Frederic's version. Frederic had said:

Unlock the Vortex? How? Eric also mentioned the Vortex being unlocked. But nothing moved! In the ResQ there was one obvious thing that could be done and I think I did that straight away - I had released the Alien from his "psychic prison" but this isn't really help and putting it back in place was a fiddly bugger when you have middle aged man eyes like me and a cat stretched out on your lap much of the puzzling time - in the end I stole a tupperware container from the kitchen and stored the tool in that whilst I thunk©. I assumed that I had a tool but didn't know how to use it/them. But I did not have a tool for Visitor Q+ - what was going on. Yes, it was time to think© and, as you know, I am rubbish at that. I tried it for months with no success. Eventually, I looked at the two puzzles side by side and wondered what I could do with what I had on each and how that would/could be similar.


I had a breakthrough late last week. Why had I not thought of that before? Well, I can answer that with the fact that I had completely ignored something with Visitor Q+ and had been frightened of scratching/damaging the ResQ wood. Stupid of me but finally I had found a way to make the first move and it had opened up a whole lot of puzzling for me. There was a whole lot of movement possible. I had to work quite hard to prevent rotations as they are specifically not allowed in the first part. The spaceship was found and it had to be manoeuvred through the vortex until it could  come out. This should have been the easiest part of the puzzle but I still struggled (I was happily doing both ResQ and Visitor Q+ simultaneously - yes, a very privileged position). For some reason, it took me a couple of days to release the spaceship (and with Visitor Q+ the Alien)
After this, I decided to concentrate on Visitor Q+ because there was less to do and I very much doubted my ability to simultaneously solve them now. I had to find a gift in the vortex - certainly nothing had been obvious during my early explorations. I guessed it must be something that would only be possible after the removal of the spaceship. It is quite interesting to see what is now possible with that rather significant cylindrical piece removed - there were a LOT of possible moves available to me and I had to be very careful not to get lost or force anything for fear of being unable to reset the puzzle. 

I found the gift quite by accident - actually my sleeping furry boy found it as it dropped on his head during my solving. It didn't wake him up and nearly gave me a heart attack as a small piece fell down the side of my armchair to be lost somewhere in the folds of fabric. Much swearing later and laughter from Mrs S and I retrieved my precious metal gift. My special copy of Visitor Q+ (the cause for the plus) had the extra step of finding the lost star inside the vortex. I spent another day moving all the parts of the vortex around (again being careful not to get lost) before noticing some "star-sign" and a few minutes later my puzzle was solved:

What a space odyssey!
Alien and spaceship freed from the vortex, a gold gift and the missing star.
This is simply wonderful - a brilliant gift from a brilliant friend - I cannot believe he created an extra step just for me - solving this has made my day/week/month/year and I am certain that this will end up in my top ten at the end of the year. Thank you so much Frederic, I will treasure it.

So, what about ResQ? Time to move on to solving that. There were going to be a good few more steps and they were going to be different. I realised that straight away because the move that had released the gift from Frederic's version did nothing for this one. Eric also had some different instructions:
1. Free the Visitor from his Psychic Prison
2. Unlock the vortex
3. Retrieve the Spaceship without using rotations (to avoid making the vortex even more unstable)
4. Navigate the vortex and retrieve the spaceship parts:
    -The thick and thin Antenna Assemblies
    -The silver Fuel Disk
    -The gold Reactor Orb
    -The six-orb Navigation AI Module
OK! Now what? I tried a lot of the movements that I had been using before and whilst it did not drop anything onto me or the cat, it did show me that there were going to be quite a lot of tools to find and use in various creative ways. This was fun, a LOT of fun but also very frustrating. The vortex was very unstable and pieces wanted to turn and move and drop into holes all the time making control quite awkward. Gradually, I found some pieces and then had to hunt for where to use them. At times these tools needed to be combined and this made for even more fun. I was on a roll!! Until I wasn't anymore.

I had found the Antenna assemblies, eventually found the silver fuel disk (that took me quite some time to realise what it was having seen it inside and not realised it was something I needed) and then the gold reactor orb. The navigation module was a problem. I could see where it was going to be, I had worked out how to combine my tools to get the compartment open and it wouldn't work! Bugger!!!!

Yes, my roll hit a brick wall. I knew I was on the right track but my combined tool could not reach to open the compartment. Now what? It was obvious...I had to move the compartment to where it would work. Yeah! Really obvious. But where? There were several possibilities and I spent several days trying to get things in place. No luck.

I should also mention that during all this manoeuvring I frequently got all my vortex pieces into positions where I could not back out - I wasn't taking notes, I was just moving pieces around (this included some fairly complex rotations) and I could not keep track of what I was doing. At several points there was a little chest pain and some swearing whilst I desperately tried to backtrack. In the end, I got really quite good at moving around the vortex into lots of different positions. I had noticed something in the puzzle which I was sure could not be a coincidence. Eric NEVER does anything without a good reason! I tried to use what I found but it was not helpful. After quite a few hours stuck at this position I asked for help. Allard was absolutely no help at all apart from telling me it was a bugger to reset (I think he had no recollection of the solution). I then asked Goetz for a hint and he reminded me of what I knew already but emphasised the feature I had found. Most importantly, he suggested that I get a light source to look inside at what I found.

%£$k!!! Eric is a sneaky bastard! I had been right all along but the positioning was off centre and I had not been doing it right for days! As soon as I had seen this, I was able to carry out the appropriate manoeuvre after a long sequence through the vortex first and I retrieved my AI module:

My goodness what an effort went into this!
Time for some photos. Time to reset both the puzzles and write my blog post! Yay!

Except...I cannot remember where all the parts of the ResQ actually belong! I am currently left with a couple of pieces left outside the puzzle and no idea where they belong! Aaaargh! I really hope that I can work it out as it would be really really embarrassing to return it to Andrew with a piece out of place!

So what do I think? These two puzzles are some of the very best I have ever played with! Visitor Q is a wonderful experience and I am delighted to have a personalised copy. Then Eric has taken the idea and run with it out into the galaxy. It is simply incredible! I am very unhappy that I did not manage to purchase a copy for myself but am so so grateful to Andrew for lending me his copy (thank you mate) - I will return it once I have put it back together. The two of these puzzles will be pretty high in my top ten this year. If you get a chance to buy the ResQ then jump at it - you will love it!


  1. This puzzle cracks me up with all the odd terminology and so many tasks! But I generally don't like puzzles with so many rules and tasks. Not my cup of tea, but I enjoyed your write-up!

    1. I am so glad that I entertain you. That is, after all the primary aim of this website and if I can inform or help someone then that is a bonus!

  2. Congrats Kevin!
    I'm so glad that you managed to solve both the VisitorQ and ResQ!
    Personally, the last goal of the ResQ is really surprising (and hard too) and it left me speechless. Eric is awesome!

    Frederic Boucher

    1. Both you and Eric are awesome! Thank you for a wonderful challenge that lasted months!