Cypher :: Review (PC) :: Frustratingly Unique


Puzzle games indeed have a unique charm about them. They might be frustratingly hard at times, but nothing can beat the feel of cracking down a puzzle which you have spent hours on. Cypher ensures that feel is further elevated. Cypher takes puzzle games to a whole new level by incorporating ciphers in the game which the players need to crack to progress further in the game. These ciphers can be of various types, and portray the various methods use for secretly sending messages.

The game’s atmosphere is pretty minimalistic, and a striking contrast to the game’s difficulty level. The game’s environment isn’t a tech-savvy one with various matrix representations surrounding it, which is more likely for a game with a cryptographical theme, but instead developers kept things simple.You are in a museum with around 80 puzzles, which are portrayed as art galleries. Each room corresponds to a specific type of cipher, and just at the entrance there is a description of the specific type of cipher, and how to crack it down. In the beginning, I misunderstood the game as a generic puzzle game and just rushed to the puzzles directly without even reading the description, and, I miserably failed to crack them down in spite of repeated attempts. A closer look at the description, provided me with the tricks to solve them, but, don’t expect the description to be just a mere formula which needs to be applied to get the solution, instead, it just narrows down the permutations and combinations needed for cryptography.

A very common practice by developers is giving hints for specific puzzles. While these hints prove to be very helpful for players at times,  most games divulge the whole solution by stating them as mere hints. This is what makes the game lose its charm. Cypher, doesn’t commit this mistake. While players are free to type “HINT” in console to get a hint for the specific puzzles, the hint remains as subtle as possible, ranging from just the first letter of the solution, to a more specific hint about the solution but, players still need ample brainstorming to solve the puzzle even after getting the hint. That’s what makes the cryptography even more satisfying. The second puzzle of the second room for instance, might look mind boggling at first for people who skipped the “Transposition” description of the room. Reading the description which emphasized on looking for a specific pattern in these kind of cipher, and then following the hint, i.e., first letter starts with “T”, I was able to crack down the cipher using letters alternatively from each set of words to form a sentence.

Cypher expects players to notice even the most minute of details to be able to crack down the puzzles. For instance, there was an extract from Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” with certain words misspelled. I noted down the specific misspelled letters, and tried to reshuffle them to form a word, but, they didn’t form a specific word as such. After reading about the poem on google, I learnt the specific book from which the poem was extracted and I was finally able to crack it down. This is what make Cypher a unique game. It aims at providing knowledge to the players about cryptography and at the same time expects them to do ample research to crack the solution. What drives the urge to solve the puzzles is, the game’s very simplistic nature. The music is also is pretty simplistic, and suits the theme of the game. While there are not enough audio cues as such, the ones which are there are very well implemented.

The only drawback Cypher suffers from is that at times the game turned out to be extremely frustrating since some of the puzzles incorporated various techniques such as binary to hexadecimal conversions, and stuff, which might prove to be very mind boggling for players who don’t have knowledge about the same, and, at times the puzzles demanded too many permutations in order to solve them. Overall, Cypher is a really good game for people looking for a brainstorming break from the daily starvation in PUBG, the futile attempts to win in Fortnite and the grind in Monster Hunter: World.