How to complete all the Tell Me Why puzzles

(Image credit: Dontnod Entertainment)

There are a variety of Tell Me Why puzzles to discover, some which need to be solved directly to progress, some which offer alternative pathways and consequences, and some which are just for fun. Here, we’ll take you through each of them, while also explaining if there are other options and how to take them.

Chapter 1

How do you get into the old house in Tell Me Why? 

The first real puzzle in Tell Me Why is unmissable and has no alternative method. It’s also through this puzzle that the twins rediscover their Voice and discover their shared memory vision, which this puzzle is really a wraparound for.

First, you need to try to enter the house, only to discover the locks have been changed. Going around the house anticlockwise, you’ll see a board across the trellis. Tyler will try and pull this off, but it’s screwed in tight. Next, you need to head to Mary-Ann’s tool shed to the right of the property.

Here, Tyler and Alyson will talk about their mother, and will discover their shared memories. This memory will tell them the key is under the silent frog. Opposite where Tyler tried to take the board off, there are three ceramic frogs. Look under the one with its hand over its mouth (the middle one) to find the key.

Back to the tool shed now, which you can unlock, and grab the screwdriver inside. Then, back out and back to the board, which Tyler can now unscrew. Crawl under and Alyson will use their voice to direct Tyler. It’s a fairly straight forward path, and while Alyson occasionally misremembers, Tyler will quickly correct her and you can’t really get lost; each wrong turn quickly becomes a dead end.

Sidenote: when Alyson first tells you to go left, she is correct, but going right gives you a collectible, so you might want to take a quick detour for that.

Either way, at the end of the path, have Tyler look up and open the hatch; he’ll mention it himself when he’s close by and it’s right at the end of the tunnel, so it can’t really be missed. Climb through this, and Tyler will open the door, letting you both in the house.

How do you unlock Mary-Ann’s door in Tell Me Why? 

While the game does give you the option of breaking the door down, it leaves you under no illusions that this is an action which will have consequences later. And besides, solving the puzzle is much more satisfying. You need to match up each lock with an animal, with the answer hidden in the Princess Party section of the twins’ book. The three locks are for the torch, sword, and coins, and you have to determine which animal gave the princess which gifts.

  • Torch - This is an animal who likes to follow the rules, which leads us to the moose
  • Sword - This is an animal who wants to protect the Princess from harm, which makes it the bear
  • Coins - This is a charitable and pious animal, which makes it the pelican

How do you make Tessa confess in Tell Me Why? 

For this instance, it does not matter whether you followed Alyson or Tyler’s memory before this scene, although Tyler will trust you more if you follow his. In any case, the game has a few memories scattered around the store which can offer hints on where to look, but the actual answers are in Tessa’s office.

First, ask to use her computer. You’ll find emails to a conversion camp called The Virtue Seekers. When you confront Tessa about the pamphlet she gave to Mary-Ann, you need to select these two answers. However, don’t confront her until you have both clues, something Tyler will warn you about if you try.

Secondly, go in her cupboard. Yes, she’s standing right there. No, she doesn’t care. There’s also a collectible in here, which can be grabbed anytime after Tessa arrives. In the cupboard, you’ll find an account book from 2004; don’t worry about searching, Alyson finds it on her own. In the book, it will reveal Mary-Ann stopped paying her debt in October 2004. When Tessa asks you about the debt, select this answer.

You can now confront Tessa, and you must get both her questions right in order to wring any truth out of her. Otherwise she will clam up and you will fail this section of the game.

How do you access the reception PC in Tell Me Why? 

This puzzle is just a piece of worldbuilding fun, and has the most steps of any puzzle in Chapter One, so is good for keeping you in the company of the twins a while longer.

You’ll need to get the keys from Eddy before you can even enter the reception, so it’s worth heading upstairs as soon as you’ve witnessed all of the memories downstairs. Armed with the keys, you need to enter reception, where you’ll see a memo informing officers that their passwords have been reset and that everyone now has access to the PC.

If you want to skip the steps and just log on, click along to D. Wilson and type in SALEM. Otherwise, we’ll talk you through the journey around the station.

First, go to Dee’s desk, where you can talk to Tyler about Dee’s dog, service record, and birthday, depending on what you interact with. Open her desk drawer to find her locker key. Next head over to her locker, where you’ll find her own memo which tells you her password was the winner on her 20th birthday. Tyler will ask more questions about Dee for Alyson to answer.

Back on her desk, you’ll see from her birthday card she is 29, and that means you need to go back nine years on the dog racing flyer, which takes you to SALEM. While here, you can return Dee’s locker key.

You can now return to the PC having earned the code the honest way and can go to D. Wilson and enter SALEM.

Chapter 2

How do you fix the fuse box in Tell Me Why?

This puzzle tries to make itself unnecessarily complicated, talking about maths and needing the garage and main house to have consistent totals and… look, you can completely ignore that. The wires are colour coded, which make this much easier. Starting top left, the top row should be red, yellow, yellow, blue, followed by yellow on the bottom row. The sixth fuse is already attached. If you fail, Sam will make a derisive “women, eh?” male bonding remark to Tyler, but Tyler isn’t having it. You’re a good man, Tyler Ronan. 

How do you get upstairs in the police station in Tell Me Why? 

This is relatively straight forward, but requires you to fail in order to make it work. First, talk to Eddy, even though this gets you nowhere, as it makes the twins decide to just go upstairs. Unfortunately, if you try this, Eddy will stop you. This moves you on to the next stage.

In the meantime, feel free to talk to Greggs, although it’s not necessary. Through their telepathic voices, the twins will decide to send Alyson upstairs to open the fire exit, which Tyler can enter from outside. The way they plan it sounds convoluted, but all you need to do is have Tyler turn the light off. The switch is by reception.

Once this is done, head outside by saying you’re going for a smoke. From there, head clockwise around the building and Alyson will let you in. Next, you’ll head to Eddy’s office and the archives, and make sure to grab the collectible in Eddy’s office too. 

What do you do in the archives room in Tell Me Why? 

Look, what don’t you do? This is the biggest gameplay led section of the Chapter, and while it can feel like you’re running around in circles, the path is linear and you’re always moving forward, so don’t sweat it. Alyson will occasionally give you updates on Eddy but this is not a timer. These updates instead demonstrate your progress. If he’s almost there, that means you’re almost done. There’s around ten boxes - don’t ignore the open one on the table - so just follow the path of codes they lead you to. Start with the typed sheet by the door, which gives you a code for a box. Once you open the first box, the desk computer comes into play.

At first, you’ll only have a few keyword searches, and each result will give you another box to look in. Each time you search a box, you’ll find a bit more information, and so will get more keywords to search for. The path is linear, so while new options can lead you astray - searching for Sam and Chief Brown will lead you to Sam’s drunk and disorderly booking - just remember what you’re trying to figure out: what happened to Mary-Ann?

While you don’t always need to include her in the search, you only need to look for information adjacent to her. When you find out child services were called on her, the next thing to search for is child services, and so on. You choose the route to go through this section, but it appears the key files are the autopsy report, the incident report from the night of her death, the crime report from the night of her death, Tessa’s complaint, the phone call from the night of her death, and Chief Brown’s phone call to child services. 

How do you open the box in the barn in Tell Me Why? 

Once again, the Book of Goblins comes to the rescue. The symbol on the top will tell you to check the Secret Keeper story, identified by the eye symbol with three lines shooting off it. Unlike Mary-Ann’s door, the clue here is not in the text itself, but in the art, which is especially clever of her. On the second page, there is a one in the background, on the third a three and on the fourth a zero, making the code 130. 

Chapter 3

Where are Alyson’s ID & pay slips in Tell Me Why?

A very relatable and down to earth puzzle to start, Alyson needs to find her ID and pay slips for the house sale. There’s a lot to explore in Eddy’s house, but you can skip a lot of it if your eager to get on. Just make sure to grab the collectible in Eddy’s room.

Speaking of this collectible, the coins you need for it are right next to Alyson’s ID, which is in her wallet on a dresser in the living room, near the back and by the sliding doors. Her payslips, meanwhile, are back in her bedroom, on the bookshelf with the globe

How do you open the box in Eddy’s room in Tell Me Why? 

First off, head to Eddy’s room and on a shelf in the far left corner, you’ll find an oddly shaped box. Interacting with it will lead Alyson to suggest looking in the Book of Goblins at the Secret Keeper story.

After reading, you’ll learn that the box is coin-operated, so head to the living room and you’ll find Alyson’s wallet (and her ID), with a few coins nearby. Take one and head back to the box, which can now be opened to reveal the collectible inside.

Where is the can Sam needs in Tell Me Why? 

When Alyson heads to the docks to confront Sam, she can’t do so until he’s finished working. There’s a lot of interesting items to interact with in this section, but if you’re just interested in moving the story along, you can do that pretty quickly. First talk to Sam; he’ll not say much until he’s done, but this will move your objective forward. There are several cans dotted around the workshop, but you’ll need to find the red can for Sam. This can be found on the right hand side of the back wall, just next to the shelves that stick out to divide the room. It’s in the grey cupboard.

While there’s lots to explore in this room, you can’t find the collectible in this scene until this part progresses, so don’t waste time searching for it down here. 

How do you reach the loft in Tell Me Why? 

You’ll need to look at Alyson’s picture for this to work, but the handle is hidden by the right of the doorway and the ladder is in the tool shed

How do you solve the loft puzzles in Tell Me Why? 

There are several puzzles in one here, so we’ll go through them step by step, starting with the three ones needed to progress the story, then the optional ones to fully complete the loft puzzles.

The final solution to these puzzles is a major spoiler for Chapter Three, please proceed with caution:

Solving the first loft puzzle
The first loft puzzle is a spot the difference puzzle, between this puzzle and The Goblins Trick The Mad Hunter in the Book of Goblins. The differences to select are:

  • The title
  • The lowest tree (the lack of Goblins)
  • The Mad Hunter’s left hand
  • The princess hidden in the trees
  • The castle to the Mad Hunter’s left

Solving the second loft puzzle
The second loft puzzle is all about Mary-Ann’s childhood, with each level describing an even from her past. You’ll need to select the bird to represent her old pet, ballet for her old hobby, engineering (the gears) for her old major, and the painter for her old boyfriend. At this point, a new slot will open, revealing the clues for the third puzzle.

Solving the third loft puzzle and opening the box
The third loft puzzle is all about joining up the events of Mary-Ann’s life in chronological order. Starting with the castle, you must then go salmonberry, clock, house, dinner party. This will then open the final safe, and give you the clue for the box.

Opening the box in the loft
Again, major spoilers below. Do not proceed unless you have reached this point in the story

Each of the safes so far have been painted with a single letter in a different colour. The right combination is therefore l, e, o.

Solving the optional loft puzzles
There are a handful of other puzzles in the loft, which you can solve to find bonus letters which offer more backstory and detail on Mary-Ann’s life. We’ll start with the one Alyson goes to first, then make our way around the loft clockwise, following Alyson.

  • The Old Bear’s Gift For The Princess - salmon, bluebells, and berries
  • The Very Old Beaver’s Repair List - roof singles, bent post, broken walls
  • The Crafty Goblins’ Good Deeds - help the bear, the moose, and the Princess
  • The Crafty Goblins’ Loot - eggs, fruit, and spoons

Stacey is currently the Editor-in-Chief of TheGamer, but was once a freelance journalist with bylines at Polygon, GamesRadar, The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, TechRadar, SYFY Wire, and IGN, among others.