One of the most anticipated events for Ingress decoders is the release of a new VI Access Dive. Historically, the Access Dive series of puzzles have contained some of the most unique, most rewarding codes, but have also frequently required more obscure tools or thought patterns. If the nightly media drops are your daily bread and butter, and the JoJo Word of the Day posts are your after-dinner treat, the VI Access Dives are the occasional trip to a fancy restaurant. You’re still doing the same basic thing, but it’s much more elaborate, and you might find yourself wanting to just keep on going.
As part of the Helios anomaly series, VI released Access Dive 4, which not only included passcodes as rewards, but also hints as to the locations of special portals that provided crucial information regarding the anomaly. In addition, the Dive was structured so that decoders of different skill levels could participate, with several codes that were easier presented along with some devilishly tricky ones. This walkthrough will concentrate on the path which was generally built with easier puzzles. It follows the middle path, and traces the glyphs “discover” and “more”.
Please note! Some passcodes on this branch may still be alive, but many will have been Fully Redeemed for several weeks by now. Remember, this walkthrough is designed to help you learn how to solve codes before they’re fully redeemed, not to just give you free gear!
The Access Dive 4 console can be found here: http://veruminveniri.com/ad4/console
Welcome to AD4 (Difficulty: 1/5)
All branches began from a node in the lower left of the console, which is colored gray. Clicking on the node, then the “Show details” button displays three codes, one for each branch. The code for the middle branch is:
Being the first code of the easy path, this is a fairly simple one to decipher. Harken back to one of the oldest, simplest ciphers frequently used: ROT-13. In this cipher, every letter is replaced by the letter 13 positions away from it in the alphabet; i.e. A becomes N, B becomes O, C becomes P, and so on down the line. When faced with a series of letters and no other context of what to do, ROT-13 is one of the various tricks any decoder should try before looking at more complex options. In this case, it yields results:
This looks very much like a passcode, but frequent readers may notice that the pattern is off. That’s right, for the majority of Access Dive puzzles, you’ll find that the passcode format is a special format, referred to as the VI format. It appears as keyword#xx##xx#, where (unlike other passcodes) the # can represent ANY digit, 0-9, and the x can represent ANY letter, a-z. Also, VI codes are perhaps more likely than others to introduce new, unexpected keywords, so always be on the lookout.
Back to this code, by performing a very simple substitution of number names, we quickly arrive at the solution, which unlocks the next node on the path.
Unexpected side effects (Difficulty: 1/5)
The next node of the path reveals an image.
When evaluating puzzles like this, it often pays to look for something that jumps out to your eye as being off. Perhaps things are worded strangely, certain characters repeat more often than you would expect, or maybe punctuation is strangely present or absent. In this case, the most surprising aspect should be the frequent use of numerals in the post. Let’s extract just the numbers and see where that gets us.
This is actually a promising result. As you may remember from previous walkthroughs, numbers and letters are represented in computers using ASCII, which assigns a number to every character on your keyboard. The ASCII values for digits are in the range 48-57, while uppercase letters tend to be in the 70s and 80s. If you consider pairs of digits in this sequence, things line up with those values very well.
86 73 57 85 72 54 55 77 79 54
Converting from numbers to the ASCII characters they represent yields us the passcode to unlock the next node.
Intuitive feeling (Difficulty: 3/5)
Again, clicking on details of this node presents an image. We’ll shrink it a little here to save space.
There are several things going on in this puzzle, some of which are more obvious than others. First, let’s take the actual text in the image. If you search for this text, you may quickly find an entry from the old Niantic Investigation Board, namely one of P. A. Chapeau’s Word of the Day entries (these were the predecessor to the current JoJo puzzle series). That entry is for HUNCH. Let’s take that bit of information and set it aside for the moment.
Sometimes information can be hidden in other places in an image or a file. It’s always important to scour every bit of data you can. If there’s an artist or title specified, it may be important. Sometimes, even the name of the file itself is important. Did you happen to notice the filename for this image?
While the latter part of that appears to be random gibberish, the first part is set apart with a dash, and we can narrow it down to “snmb”. Now, knowing that we are likely working with a VI passcode format, we need a keyword, four numerals, and four letters. Well, if “hunch” might be our keyword, it’s possible that “snmb” could be our letters. All we need now are some numbers, and we can build a passcode.
You may have noticed there is one more interesting bit of information in the image that we haven’t touched on yet. If you look in the lower right hand corner of the image, in light gray you can see the characters “/10”. Now, that’s not enough to go on by itself. So what might it mean? Well, my first hunch (ha ha) is that it seems like part of a fraction. But we’re missing the top half of the fraction. Is there anywhere we can find some numbers to divide by ten?
Remember earlier when I said you had to look at ALL the aspects of an image like this to search for clues? And do you remember when I said I’d be resizing the image so it would fit better? Why did I need to resize it? Why is the image so tall to begin with? It certainly didn’t need to be that tall…. unless the size itself is important. Check out the image dimensions:
Look at that. Two numbers which can be evenly divided by 10. So let’s divide by ten, and see what we’re left with: “3976”. Four numbers, just what we needed. So, we have a keyword, four letters, and four numbers. Slot them into the appropriate spots in our VI passcode format, and it’s time to take this to the next level.
We’ll pick up next time on the next node, 2b | …, which begins the “Discover” glyph.