In Puzzle Agent, you can use pieces of ABC gum to receive hints to help you solve puzzles. Is there any in-game penalty for this? Is it better for me to use a hint and get the correct answer on the first try, or to guess even when I'm unsure and risk getting the puzzle wrong? Will it negatively affect my agent ranking?
As far as I know, it doesn't negatively effect your game directly, but it does negatively effect the rating you will receive for that puzzle, and thus lowers your bragging rights, how awesome you will feel and the final overall ranking you receive at the end of the game.
For example, here's what happens after a few false answers to a puzzle, scores a tiny 4 with three attempts and no hints:
Score of 9, with one hint and one try:
Score with 7, with zero hints and two tries:
So, looking over these results, the indication is that using a hint damages your rating for that puzzle far less than an incorrect answer. It's much better to be right first time, even with hints, than to ever put in an incorrect answer!