This year’s MIT Mystery Hunt featured an escape room-themed puzzle that was as brilliant as it was hilarious.
The Wizard’s Escape
The Wizard’s Escape was a 30-minute audio recording of 4 people playing an escape room horribly. You can hear them roughly describing the puzzles… and then you hear how they break, guess, and luck their way through the game.
It was up to the puzzler to use their audio cues to figure out how they were supposed to solve the game. I loved this puzzle on so many levels and it is freely available:
If you aren’t familiar with puzzle hunts, they are their own beast… and the MIT Mystery Hunt is the annual final boss of puzzle hunts.
A couple of years ago I wrote a puzzle hunt primer specifically for the first Cryptex Hunt. That primer will help you get a handle on the concept. (You can disregard all of the Cryptex Hunt-specific information.)
A Personal Note on this Puzzle
The Wizard’s Escape is kind of special for me because after a few years of supporting other people in solving Mystery Hunt puzzles, this was the first puzzle that I was able to finish for my team.
I’ve been working hard to level up my puzzle hunting abilities and at this year’s Mystery Hunt, it really felt like my efforts had finally yielded tangible results.
One evening in March I fired up the Cryptex Hunt at 8pm Eastern to see the new puzzle.
I approached the newly unlocked puzzle and read:
“You arrive at a porch in front of a bizarre looking dwelling that looks like it was thrown together. You wouldn’t exactly call it a normal house. It reminds you of a house a child built, if that child built it out of LEGOs but didn’t have all the right pieces or colors.
In the middle of the porch is a large golden padlock, hanging open and mounted like a trophy.
You can see a Golden Padlock here.”
My interest piqued I typed “LOOK PADLOCK” into the MUD, and then my jaw hit my keyboard as I read:
“A golden padlock engraved with a brand name: LIVID.”
Feeling shocked and honored I proceeded to puzzle through what I thought was one of the stronger puzzles in this very strong puzzle hunt. (I am completely willing to admit bias in this opinion.)
If you are unfamiliar with MUDs, I suggest reading the rest of this post before tackling this puzzle.
This puzzle was originally intended to function as one of the stages in the finale of the Cryptex Hunt. That plan went up in smoke when a calamity struck the Cryptex Hunt server and the finale had to be completely rebuilt. I interviewed the Cryptex Hunt team about this when I guest hosted the Room Escape Divas Podcast.
As a result, this puzzle became a bonus puzzle in the interim week while the team furiously created an almost entirely new series of puzzles for the finale.
Because it became a bonus puzzle, only 156 of the 560 players solved it.
“This game exists in a MUD (Multi-User Dungeon). MUDs date back to the 1970s. They are a text-based way for multiple players to interact with a game environment. While they aesthetically don’t look like anything at all, MUD-based games like Colossal Cave Adventure are some of the most important early forerunners of escape rooms.”
The only MUD commands that you’ll need to solve this puzzle are:
Movement – Type, north, south, east, or west to traverse the world.
Inspecting – To look at an item described in the game, type look name of thing you want to see (eg. look sign).
Opening the Cryptex – The puzzle concluded by opening a cryptex. Type unlockcryptexsolution (eg. unlock cryptex star).
HintList – Should you need a hint, type hints to view a list of all possible hints.
Hinting – If you need a particular hint, type hint # (eg. hint 2 to summon the second hint).
That’s about all that you need to solve this thing. Good luck solving Patchwork House.
I hope you enjoy it. If you do, consider trying the full Cryptex Hunt. It’s epic.
Thank you to Darren Miller for rebuilding the puzzle outside of the full game. Thank you to Brett Kuehner for hosting it.