Bitcoin Puzzle Games Are Growing in Popularity

In many respects, Bitcoin is the ultimate puzzle. Armchair sleuthers have expended countless hours trying to deduce the identity of its pseudonymous creator, and miners have expended countless more trying to puzzle the nonce required to solve each block and claim the 12.5 BTC reward attached. It seems logical that a new wave of puzzle games should be developed with bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as their prize.

Montecrypto: The Bitcoin Enigma is a new game that follows on the heels of The Legend of Satoshi Nakamoto. That latter game was conceived in 2015 but gained new attention two weeks ago after the fiendishly complex artwork-based game was finally solved. It netted its solver $50,000 worth of bitcoin, plus additional bitcoin cash and other forked coins. The Bitcoin Enigma, a new series of 24 puzzles, has ‘just’ 1 BTC as its prize, but that’s more than enough to incentivize a new wave of sleuths to attempt to fathom its mysteries. 

Developed by Gem Rose Collective and launching on February 20, the game enables players to “Leave hints along the way or slow others down by leading them to dead-ends”. Screenshots give Montecrypto: The Bitcoin Enigma the air of an RPG, complete with moody depictions of grand, faded buildings and a dizzying maze of stairways and passages. The most interesting aspect of the game is not its visuals, but its theory. Players must decide whether to work together to solve the 24 puzzles or go it alone, seeking to thwart rivals by laying a trail of breadcrumbs leading them away. 

In terms of game theory, Montecrypto bears some similarities to Neon District, developed by the same artist who created The Legend of Satoshi Nakamoto puzzle art. Its chief developer speaks of taking “shared inspiration comes from the cypherpunk ethos…playful applications of cryptography, a love of creating and solving puzzles using steganography, the hacker mentality…cyberpunk and steampunk genres, classic card and role-playing games, and our childhood pastimes of night-owl gaming and coding”. 

While Neon District is an ethereum-based game, which can be played using the Metamask browser wallet, Montecrypto is more like a lotto game in that it costs $1.99 to enter. Rather than random luck, however, success comes down to skill, including degrees of cunning, strategy, and puzzle-solving. Players who believe they have what it takes to solve the challenge may wish to inspect the project’s FAQ page, and from there visit its Github, where one of the first clues is believed to lie. 

Like Satoshi Nakamoto, the game’s developers have elected to keep their identities under wraps for now, but state: “As huge fans of treasure hunts we took inspiration from riddles like la chorette d’or (the golden owl), a statue of the owl was buried in 1993 at the same time a series of clues was published, and still nobody has solved the clues to find the owl and claim the 15kg (33lb) statue made of gold and silver.” 

It all sounds very intriguing. The only downside of course is that to find out whether the prize is genuine, contestants must stump up the $1.99 necessary to take part. Aspiring sleuths may conclude that’s a risk they’re willing to take.

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