Agent A: A Puzzle In Disguise

Agent A

Ruby La Rouge’s cat meets Agent A

Agent A is your typical point-and-click / escape room adventure game. It’s lifted above the average by nice graphics and a great selection of puzzles with few moments of frustration or tedium.

The basic plot is that Ruby La Rouge, an enemy spy with an awful accent, has killed your boss and several of your fellow Agents. You’re Agent A, the best in the business, and it’s up to you to confront Ruby in her hideaway. No sooner have you found your way through the front door, then Ruby turns the tables and traps you inside with her vicious cat.

What follows is a short but charming homage to spy films as you crack safes, reveal secret rooms hidden behind bookcases, and put oversized precious jewels to good uses.
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Cryptogram Puzzle Post

Cryptogram Puzzle Post Envelope

Cryptogram Puzzle Post April 2017, The River


While rooting around the Travelling Man game shop in York, I came across a series of nicely presented envelopes promising “codes, ciphers, riddles, spells and illusions inspired by witchcraft and alchemy”: the Cryptogram Puzzle Post.

Issued monthly since March 2017, each envelope holds a self-contained bundle of 7 small puzzles, leading one to the next towards a final solution. That solution can be emailed to the author for confirmation of its correctness, or a set of three correct answers from a full Season can be submitted to unlock a “mystery art” prize.
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The Clock Without a Face: Solutions Part 2

clock without a face cover

The Clock Without A Face

The Clock Without a Face is a frustrating armchair treasure book because so many of the puzzles are ambiguous with no clear solution. In many cases, the answer could only be confirmed by going and digging up the treasure. This option is, of course, no longer available.

In Part 1 of this solution, I pointed out where the 12 objects stolen from each resident could be found hidden in the book. I also explained, as best as possible, the way to find the hiding places for the first 6 numbers of the clock itself.

This post works through the final 6 numbers from the clock and the problem of the missing number 12 from Floor 9. A reminder to please support the Internet Archive: Wayback Machine if you find the archived links in this post useful.

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Picture Puzzle: Name the City

puzzle

Puzzle: Name the City

A tricky little picture puzzle to test your decryption skills and a simple question: name the city.

Click on the picture for a larger version.

If that isn’t enough fun, this post includes some of the code used to generate the picture. If you understand the code, it will give you a big hint for solving the puzzle.

The image was created using the free POV-Ray raytracer. Generating raytraced images involves creating a virtual 3D world with objects and light sources and a camera. POV-Ray then calculates how light travels around the virtual world, bouncing off the objects, and creates the view that would be seen by the camera. The usual aim of raytacing calculations is to mimic real-world physics as much as possible to try to create a photo-realistic image.

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The Clock Without a Face: Solutions Part 1

clock without a face cover

The Clock Without A Face

The Clock Without a Face is a divisive book. Ironically, it is two-faced and I enjoy and despise it at the same time for its oddities.

As a storybook, there’s a childish charm on the surface that clashes with the cruel abuse and betrayal of the narrator bubbling just underneath. As a treasure hunt, the bright, detailed illustrations are fun to sift through and reveal endless potential clues, but the final solutions are ambiguous and unsatisfying.

I’ve put off writing up the solutions for The Clock Without A Face because every time I start trying to piece it all together from the few confirmed answers (some from the author, others from shouty arguments on the Internet) I am left frustrated and annoyed. Trying to solve the puzzles in the book sucks all the joy out of it. It is an awful puzzle book in this regard and there’s no getting away from that.

But, needs must when the blogger procrastinates. So here is my best attempt at providing a reasonable set of solutions to the Clock Without A Face. This first post covers the 12 missing objects from each floor and tracks the first 6 missing numbers from floor 13. The last 6 numbers, and the location of the doubly-hidden number 12 will be covered in part 2.

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A Present of a Picross

picross

Example Picross

A final present from me for Christmas! This time it’s a Picross puzzle.

A picross is a logic puzzle. They’re also called Nonograms, Hanjie, Griddlers or “Paint-By-Numbers”.

The goal is to blacken squares in a grid to create a picture.

Numbers around the grid are clues. From these clues you can deduce exactly where all the black squares go using logic and deduction. There is only one solution where the clues in the columns and the clues in the rows are consistent.

Each clue number signifies an unbroken line of black squares. These lines appear in the same order as the numbers, running left to right for the rows and top to bottom for the columns. Every line of black squares is separated by one or more un-blackened squares. You can mark these in with light Xs. A zero means the entire row or column is unblackened.

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Cryptic Crossword Primer for Christmas

crossword

Click for full size version

Cryptic crosswords are one of those things you either love or hate, that you either understand or can’t stand. Part of the problem is that there is a huge set of rules for solving them which you are simply supposed to know. If you don’t know the rules, you’ve got no chance.

This post is a Chritmas present to readers. It includes a short introduction on how to solve cryptic crosswords and a special Christmas themed crossword to try your hand at. It is not like some of the devious cryptic crosswords in the broadsheets. Most of the clues should be fairly easy and fun.

You can click on the image to the right to view the crossword at full size, and here is a PDF version to download and print.

I believe that puzzles are a great activity for families stuck together for extended periods trying to think up topics of conversation! So print a few of the crosswords off and work together over the holiday period to find the answers.

This crossword and the primer below were written by myself and my partner in crime at inkflamingos.com. Please visit her art blog!

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Dickens’ Final Chapter: A TimeTrap Escape Room

TimeTrap logo

TimeTrap Escape

TimeTrap Escape are a small escape room company based in Reading, Berkshire. So far they have produced two temporary “pop-up” rooms in bars around the town.

There were some great word-of-mouth reviews for “The Dungeon”, held in the basement of The Purple Turtle, but I couldn’t make it in person. So when I heard that “Dickens’ Final Chapter” was having a short run in the library of the historic Great Expectations hotel and bar, I didn’t miss my second chance and visited them during their final week.

And so a willing friend and I travelled back in time to discover which felon had stolen the manuscript of Charles Dickens’ final book.

Though the room is now dismantled, I have attempted to keep this review spoiler free in case it is recreated in the future.

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The Egyptian Jukebox: Solution Part 2

Egyptian Jukebox book cover

The Egyptian Jukebox

The Egyptian Jukebox by Nick Bantock is a dark and intriguing conundrum. The book asks a single question: “Where do my worlds join?”. The answer can be discovered in the 10 Drawers that make up the book.

This is Part 2 of my solution to the Egyptian Jukebox. Part 1 is here and provides some hints to get you started before going into the full explanation of the puzzle methodology and the solutions for the first 5 Drawers.

This part will give a brief recap of how the puzzle works before giving the solutions for the last 5 drawers and fitting them together for the final answer.

If you want to avoid spoilers as much as possible and just want a few hints, stop reading this post now and go read Part 1.

Last chance!

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The Egyptian Jukebox: Solution

Egyptian Jukebox book cover

The Egyptian Jukebox

The Egyptian Jukebox by Nick Bantock is a dark and intriguing conundrum. The book asks a single question: “Where do my worlds join?”. The answer can be discovered in the 10 Drawers that make up the book.

Solving the puzzle requires a few good guesses and a willingness to test out ideas, so it’s easy to get stuck. But I think this is a fun puzzle to solve and do not want to spoil it by giving away the complete solution immediately.

Instead, this post gives a few hints to spark your own ideas before explaining the main method of solving the puzzle. There is then a detailed solution to the Drawer 1 puzzle, and finally a summary of the solutions for the next 4 Drawers. I’ll published solutions for the final 5 Drawers next week.

There are two key steps to solving The Egyptian Jukebox. The first is to crack the cryptic message in the Inscription:
“The gods stand upright and give latitude.
From the yarns pluck golden songs to string across.
With this grid you may now navigate The Egyptian Jukebox.
Ten drawers – ten small solutions – and an answer.”
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