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86 - Getting Started

Written by Loony Code   /   Sep 17, 2020    

Have you picked up 86 but have no idea what you're doing? It's a big open world full of daunting puzzles, so where do you start? In this guide, we'll show you how to solve the tile puzzle to the west (left) of the starting point. This guide is intended to describe the thought processes that should be used when solving puzzles, by showing how our thought process as we solve some of the game's early rooms.


The main points to take away from this guide are:

  • If you see a puzzle with multiple entities that you don't understand, leave it for now. There will be a simpler puzzle elsewhere to teach you each individual mechanic.
  • In general, look for rooms with the green lights in them, since these will give you a lot more freedom to experiment with the puzzle in the room.
  • Take notes! Whether you use the in-game note book or scribble on real-life paper, write down what you learn so that you don't forget it when you come back the next day.

The Room in Question

When you start the game, walk directly to the west to see this room:

How do you solve this puzzle? At this stage, the correct response is "I have no idea". The point of 86 is to find simple puzzles to explain each of the individual mechanics, before combining that knowledge to solve the greater puzzle. So for now, let's look at our other options.

Knowledge is Power

If you go south or east from the start, you'll find even more complicated puzzles, with even more tiles that we don't understand yet. So let's start by going north.

Much better! This room is almost completely empty - just you, a door, and a blue tile with what looks like a fish drawn on it. The only logical step here is to stand on the tile and, sure enough, the door will open when you do that. So here we've learnt that when you see a single blue tile with a fish on it, it opens the door.

Head north, and you'll see this room:

Now there's multiple blue fish tiles, and multiple doors. Logically you might try stepping on one, and see that nothing happens. Before long, you'll probably try stepping on all four - and sure enough, that will open all the doors in the room. So now we've learnt that if a room has multiple of these blue fish tiles, you'll need to step on all of them, and that will open all the doors in the room.

Again, there are a few directions we can head here. To the east, you'll see a room that's even more confusing than the one we're trying to solve, so don't head that way for now. You could go west, which will start teaching you a couple of new mechanics not related to the same tile puzzles we've seen so far. But for the purposes of this guide, we'll head north at this point.

Here we see a new type of tile, a green one with a book on it. There's a few things you might reasonably try here - maybe you try stepping on all the green tiles as well as all the blue tiles, or maybe just all the green tiles. But after a bit of experimentation, you'll probably find that the solution is to step on the blue fish tiles, but avoid the green book tiles. This room has taught us that green tiles must not be stepped on.

Importantly, you might also notice a green light on the right-hand wall of this room. This light goes on when you solve a puzzle, and turns back off when the puzzle is "un-solved". So feel free to experiment in here to make sure you fully understand how these two types of tiles work. Once you're happy, proceed to the next room to the north.

So this room has a lot more going on, but it's still the same basic mechanics we've already learned; we know that we have to step on the blue fish and not the green books. So just step on all the blue fish(without stepping on any green books in between) and the doors will open.

Note that this room may subtly teach you how the tile puzzles work in general. In particular, you have to step on the green books to get to the blue fish, and then you have to step back onto the green books afterwards to get to either of the doors. So essentially, all the green books do is reset the puzzle; if you touch one, you have to step on all the blue fish again, but the puzzle doesn't become permanently failed.

Similarly you might notice that, once you step on a green book and thus "un-solve" the puzzle, the doors stay open. In other words, the doors never close; you just have to solve the puzzle for a fraction of a second, then the doors will stay open for the rest of that run.

There are two directions to go from here, and both have useful information. For now, let's head north:

This room introduces another new type of tile, a red one that looks a bit like a cracker. It might not be obvious what this does from the room layout, but luckily this room has a green light in it and only a few blue fish tiles, so experimentation should work. Chances are, the first thing you try here will be correct; you can basically ignore these tiles altogether and just try to hit the three blue fish without touching the green books in between. Feel free to experiment more, but you'll probably learn the solution quickly enough: red tiles do absolutely nothing!

If you were to head right here you would find more puzzles that we don't have the knowledge to solve at this stage, so don't worry about that for now. You might be tempted to try to return to the puzzle next to the start now that we've learned the function of 3 of the 4 tiles, but the last one is still likely to trip us up, so this isn't recommended yet.

Instead, let's go back to the previous room and head west from there:

Here you'll see that fourth tile type, the purple wizard hat. Given the structure of this room you'll probably quickly guess that you need to step on it at some point. The only question is what direction you take. For example, do you simply follow the loop around, or do you make a deliberate 90 degree turn on the purple tile? Both are valid ideas, so feel free to experiment.

If you try both, you'll find that the former theory is correct. When you enter from the east, go straight to the west across the purple hat tile, then follow the loop around to the north, east and south, again passing straight over the purple hat. This will open the door, but again you can experiment some more if you have other questions that you want answered.

Heading through the door to the south, you'll find another room that serves purely to teach this mechanic in more detail:

You can use this room to learn more if you don't fully understand the mechanics of the purple hat tile yet. The solution is to make sure you don't turn on any of the purple tiles, and instead only make turns on the blue tiles. This room doesn't have any other doors to open and is purely to help you learn how the purple tile works, but you can see that you've solved the puzzle once the green light comes on.

By now we should have enough information to solve the puzzle we wanted to solve at the start, but I'll leave it to you if you want to experiment more, since this is the most complex tile we've discovered so far. Here are some example scenarios to test if you want to learn more:

  • Exactly what moves can I do on a purple hat tile? If I move north onto the tile, do I have to move north again, or can I move south as well?
  • Is there any limit to how many times I can step on a purple hat tile? Is it infinite or is it, for example, only once in each direction?
  • Do I need to step on purple hat tiles (like the blue fish tiles), or are they optional (like the red cracker tiles)?
  • How might this tile type come back to bite me in the future? For example, I need to make sure I don't approach a purple hat tile from the south if there's a green book tile directly to its north.

Now, Where Were We?

With our understanding of all four tile types, we can now solve the previously-intimidating puzzle to the west of the start point. Hopefully you've taken some notes along the way, but just to recap:

  • We must step on all of the blue fish tiles
  • We must not step on any of the green book tiles
  • The red cracker tiles do nothing; we can step on them or avoid them as we please
  • The purple hat tiles must be crossed over in a straight line; if we step on it from the south, we have to step off it to the north.

This puzzle is very open-ended and has dozens of potential solutions. Here's one that we might find as a first draft:

Great, we've solved the puzzle! Feel free to carry on exploring to the west to learn more mechanics, as well as exploring that area to the north that we didn't cover in this guide. But as you play more, you might find that that solution is far from optimal. As a result, you might have trouble getting to some of the more distant rooms later on.

In fact, is a much more direct route that we can take:

As you can see, I was able to cross this room with 9 seconds on the clock using this route, as opposed to the 13 seconds that the other route took me. That extra 4 seconds will prove to be very valuable later on, especially when combined with potential time saving techniques in other rooms along the western path!

Written by Loony Code.

Game:   86