In the course of your travels, you stumble onto a cryptic message:

a cryptic message

You lament that the three bottom lines are badly degraded and nearly unreadable. You're certain that the information they contain is necessary to decode the message.

The smaller squares scattered throughout the message intrigue you. You're positive they're not punctuation. They remind you of something else from your college days.

It also occurs to you that the symbols' square shape is somehow significant.

After contemplating the problem for a while, inspiration strikes and you're able to decode the message into a short phrase. In light of your circumstances, the phrase deeply depresses you. You carry on with your journey anyway, your heart heavy.

What is the decoded message?


1 Answer 1


Taking the lines with squares on them, we get this message:


Superscript T has a specific meaning: it's the transpose of a matrix. Assuming letters represent matrices, the bottom three lines can be guessed:

  • $K$ is [symme]tric
  • $H$ an[d] $A$ a[r]e [orthog]onal
  • $I$ i[s the] identi[ty]

This means that $K=K^T$, $A^{-1}=A^T$, and $H^{-1}=H^T$. Also, $I$ can be multiplied anywhere without changing the result. Now we can evaluate the expression using matrix mathematics:

$(K(AK^T)^{-1}+E^TH^T(HKO((AO)^{-1}C^T+O^{-1}K^{-1}L^T)+T^T))^T+S\\ =(K(AK)^{-1}+E^TH^T(HKO(O^{-1}A^{-1}C^T+O^{-1}K^{-1}L^T)+T^T))^T+S\\ =(KK^{-1}A^{-1}+E^TH^T(HK(OO^{-1}A^{-1}C^T+OO^{-1}K^{-1}L^T)+T^T))^T+S\\ =(A^{-1}+E^TH^THK(A^{-1}C^T+K^{-1}L^T)+E^TH^TT^T)^T+S\\ =(A^T+E^TKA^{-1}C^T+E^TKK^{-1}L^T+E^TH^TT^T)^T+S\\ =(A^T+E^TK^TA^TC^T+E^TL^T+E^TH^TT^T)^T+S\\ =(A^T)^T+(E^TK^TA^TC^T)^T+(E^TL^T)^T+(E^TH^TT^T)^T+S\\ =A+CAKE+LE+THE+S\\ =THE+CAKE+IS+A+LIE$

So the message is "The cake is a lie."

  • $\begingroup$ Wow. Amazing. +1 to solution and puzzle. $\endgroup$
    – Quark
    Jul 5, 2015 at 3:25
  • $\begingroup$ Very nicely done. $\endgroup$
    – COTO
    Jul 5, 2015 at 4:03
  • 6
    $\begingroup$ What... how... I can't even... $\endgroup$
    – Zaenille
    Jul 6, 2015 at 5:33
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Also note that in the original game, the phrase was literally written on a wall. $\endgroup$
    – March Ho
    Jul 6, 2015 at 11:00

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.