The Enigma Machine

If you’ve ever seen the movie U-571 starring Matthew McConaughey who, surprisingly, kept his shirt on for the entire film, you already know what an Enigma Machine is… it’s a little box used for coding and decoding messages that was invented by some German guy, hence its notable history in service to the Nazi regime during World War II.

Crude Games, LLC has created a pretty cool puzzle/logic game out of their iPhone version of the Enigma, and your mission is to use the device to decrypt words that are 3-5 letters in length.

I’ll get right to the point here: if you’re a dedicated Word Nerd, chances are you’ll LOVE this app.

You start from zero and just have to guess at what the answer to your puzzle is, and from there you can begin to make logical assumptions about the puzzle’s solution. Using a 3-word puzzle as an example, here’s how you proceed:

Guess the word CAR (just out of the blue, make it up as you go along).

The Enigma tells  you that two letters in CAR are correct.

Guess the word BAR (another stab in the dark).

Again, the Enigma tells you that two letters in BAR are correct.

So, what can you deduce from CAR and BAR? Unless you have the IQ of an American Idol judge, you know that two of the correct letters in your Enigma puzzle are A and R.

That’s how the puzzle works, and it becomes exponentially more difficult as you move from 3-letter words to 4- and 5-letter words. What helps a lot, though, is how The Enigma Machine allows you to view your previous word guesses and circle or cross out possibilities. There’s also a keyboard toggle that lets you mark keys with red or green highlights as you figure out which letters belong and which ones don’t.

The puzzle itself is fun and addictive, but there are some areas in The Enigma Machine that could use some work. As a whole the app is nicely done and the graphics are pretty slick, but there are several points of contention on my list:

  • The Enigma Machine sounds pretty cool, but the sound effects also get annoying
  • There’s no “solve” button (it’s kind of hidden)
  • The app doesn’t remember your place if you exit
  • The game doesn’t defer to iPod music

You can turn off the game’s sound which is great, but I really wouldn’t mind listening to it if the sounds were less grating. As for the absence of a Solve button… you can see the answer to your puzzle by tapping on Start Over, but this isn’t very intuitive.

Also, remembering my place in case I accidentally hit the iPhone’s Home button (which I did once) is important. Some of these puzzles, especially the ones with five letters, can be pretty time-consuming. Right now, if you accidentally exit the app and then restart it, you don’t just go back to Square One, you have to tap your way past the “briefing” instructions as well! Ouch. Until this gets fixed in an update, stay the hell away from the Home button because any accidental press will screw you pretty good.

The last item, deferring to iPod music, is something that I think nearly all apps should do. My guess is that it’s just a matter of the developer figuring out how to do it.

Nonetheless, I’ll say this one more time: The Enigma Machine is a fun and addictive puzzle game! Even despite its shortcomings, this is a quality puzzle game that has a lot of potential replay value and it’s definitely worth the $.99 price tag. According to the iTunes App Store description the price will soon be going back to “normal” (not sure what that is), but my rough estimate is that this game could probably go as high as $3 and still be considered a deal.

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