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The title is not yelling, there's a reason for the all-caps in puzzle solving aspect.


image

Hint:

NEWS, looks familiar, right? Used by tons of enigmatic puzzles.

source: The 4th (2022) WeChat Puzzle Event, which ended on 8 Oct 2022

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    $\begingroup$ For clarity, it's from an event that has ended. No statement against it being shared elsewhere from the src. $\endgroup$
    – Pumbaa
    Commented Feb 14, 2023 at 2:40
  • $\begingroup$ I have the sets of four letters as well as how they relate to the word pairs, but I'm not seeing how to yield either STREAMING or an answer candidate from that just yet. $\endgroup$
    – Braegh
    Commented Feb 20, 2023 at 19:05

1 Answer 1

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The answer is:

CREATIONS

First, consider the letters NEWS, URL_ and _DAS - these all point towards...

...directions:

North, East, West and South (cardinal directions)
Up, Right, Left and (the omitted) Down ('D-pad' directions)
(The omitted) W, D, A and S (PC game direction keys)

In each case, the letters of these words are ordered in the same directional sequence, with two of them omitted just for aesthetics and a little obfuscation.

Next, consider the top row of 7 word pairs. In each instance...

...the words differ by the insertion of a letter, which - crucially - is also one of the direction indicators mentioned above. Helpfully, each insertion is colour-coded in a way that matches which one of the three sets it belongs to:

plants/plan[E]ts (cardinals)
hear/hear[D] (D-pad)
tuck/t[R]uck (D-pad)
metal/me[N]tal (cardinals)
oversing/overs[W]ing (cardinals)
beat/bea[S]t (WASD)
care/ca[D]re (WASD)

This provides us with a series of instructions. Converting them all into D-pad instructions (for simplicity), we have a trail of right-down-right-up-left-down-right.

We then need to apply this instruction to the grid:

We do this by starting at the red-shaded 'H' in the top-left and proceeding as far as we can in the directions listed. This creates a path around the grid which ultimately ends at the rightmost 'O' in the bottom row.

Solving the grid for STREAMING
Notice that the unused letters spell out the word 'STREAMING', which is also positioned beside the word pairs with an arrow in the diagram. We have successfully uncovered how to read the grid!

So we now need to employ this same method for the only part of the puzzle which is as-yet unused...

Examine the word pairs at the bottom of the diagram and identify the directions they conceal:

zombie/zombie[S] (cardinals)
boy/bo[D]y (WASD)
froze/froze[N] (cardinals)
bank/b[L]ank (D-pad)
aide/a[S]ide (WASD)
contact/cont[R]act (D-pad)
decent/de[S]cent (cardinals)

This yields the D-pad instruction sequence: down-right-up-left-down-right-down. Applying this to the grid, again starting at the red 'H' in the top-left (and avoiding ending on a space that has already been visited) yields the following path:

Solving the grid to find CREATIONS

The unused letters spell our answer: CREATIONS!

Post Script:

As the OP points out in comments with this very helpful diagram, there was an additional helpful instruction built in to this puzzle that I did not end up using...

When looking at the word pairs, the position of the added letter in the word is not coincidental. Effectively, if you count the number of letters up to (and including) that position, this total also doubles as the number of spaces to travel in the given direction.

So, effectively, we are not merely travelling 'until we cannot travel any more in that direction' - that's true, but it's not a rule, per se - we are actually travelling a specified number of spaces in the specified direction, with that number being hidden in plain sight as the number of coloured letters in the word (e.g. 3 spaces north for metal/mental, where 'men' is coloured red in the diagram).

(Note that, as the puzzle is presented, the first word pair's 'count' actually includes the starting 'H' space...)

OP's puzzle mechanics explanation
Image provided by OP.

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  • $\begingroup$ Good work :D i.imgur.com/ELAn3RU.jpg $\endgroup$
    – Pumbaa
    Commented Feb 21, 2023 at 5:59
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    $\begingroup$ @Pumbaa Ah, so the word pairs were doing double duty then - that's nice; avoids needing a rule like 'don't end on an already-visited...' If I'd have spotted that sooner it would have definitely made it easier to solve - my method involved a lot of trial and error before I worked out what was going on! :) $\endgroup$
    – Stiv
    Commented Feb 21, 2023 at 9:45

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