Long before video games, tablets and the like, there were puzzle books. People spent hours trying to solve crosswords, math conundrums, and cryptograms. Even with all today’s technology, printed puzzles are still very popular. Every time my mother and I go on a trip, she always makes sure to have some books of them with her.
I have never really become a Sudoku fan, although I know this numbers puzzle took the world by storm about a decade ago. I dabble in crosswords, but again, I’ve never been as interested in them as my parents. The puzzles that have always interested me are cryptograms.
I was going on vacation when I first began looking for a cryptogram app. In fact, I’m on vacation right now as I write this. Dedication, eh? Well I know you’re all dying to learn about my latest discovery, so here it is: What’s the Quote?
This app features quotes from famous people and literary works, is free to download, and offers the quotes as cryptograms that you have to solve. Could it be possible that this was the most perfect app ever? Keen to give it a try, I typed in my iTunes password, and it magically appeared on my iPad.
How it works
When you first open the app, it seems that it’s immediately leaving you to your own devices. You’ll see a timer at the top of the screen, and you may suddenly start to panic, worried that you’re already failing before you know what’s expected of you.
Panic not. So long as you chose the Training Pack (the first “pack” option) after tapping on “Single Player” you’ll be absolutely fine. It takes a few seconds for the app to recognize that you exist, and then the training begins.
Over the tutorial, you’ll learn how to replace the wrong letters with the correct ones so that the quote suddenly makes sense. For example, if you were to see “Tzp crt srt on tzp mrt,” the tutorial will direct you to change the “z”s to “h”s; the “r”s to “a”s; and the “p”s to “e”s. The final phrase will be revealed as “The cat sat on the mat.”
Each quote is attributed to someone familiar, which also helps, as if the quote isn’t immediately apparent, the structure of the name might ring some bells.
It also demonstrates how to lock in certain letters so you don’t change them later by mistake, and how to use the “Hint” tab if you really get stuck. This is where the only in-app purchase comes into play. You accumulate gold coins based on the number of puzzles you solve and the speed with which you solved them. The hints cost coins. As the training puzzles are relatively easy, try to solve them as quickly as possible, even as the app is assisting you, so you can have a nice bank of coins before you wade into the other packs that follow.
Buying extra coins isn’t insanely expensive, but obviously you’ll want to resist spending the money for as long as you can. It’s all about patience as you start getting more difficult puzzles.
Once you’ve become familiar with how the app works, you can move on to the words of Tennessee Williams, U.S. presidents, Mark Twain, Steve Jobs and Edgar Allen Poe, along with familiar quotes from TV series, “A Song of Ice and Fire,” and even Marvel and DC comics.
The packs cost coins, so again, the more you can bank by completing puzzles quickly, the less you’ll have to spend to advance.
When I tried it
I was pretty good at cryptograms before I started this app (said she, modestly), so I knew how they worked. I found the tutorial very helpful, as obviously when something’s in electronic form rather than the good old-fashioned pencil-and-paper routine, you need to get to grips with its design.
My confidence was a little too high, however, after I finished a few training puzzles. There were 15 available in total, and after the first four, I figured I was good to go. I jumped to the immortal words of Johan Huizinga, and…immediately got stuck. I had to buy a hint, which cost me precious coins, and it was at that stage that I realized it was best to complete the training puzzles, if for no other reason than to “gather ye coins while ye may.”
My speed gathered me bonus coins, so by the time I went to Tennessee Williams, I was in pretty good shape. With many, many training packs ahead, I could see that this app would keep me happy for a long time.
If you like cryptograms, you will really like this app. The fact that it’s free makes it very attractive, and it is very well designed. I will say that I read some review reports of the app “hanging” or not unlocking the next puzzle, despite a correct answer, but I’ve not come across that issue yet. Based on my experience thus far, I would definitely recommend it.
What’s the Quote? Cost: Free Seller: Vito Technology Inc. Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad Rating: E10+ (Everyone 10 and older)