This Wordle is messing with everyone’s heads (Cryptex Hunt 2022)

This Wordle is messing with everyone’s heads
Cryptex Hunt 2022
Author(s)Shannon McDowell

This Wordle is messing with everyone’s heads is a word/tech-based puzzle and the eighth puzzle of the 2022 Cryptex Hunt. It is presented as partially-completed game of Wordle.

Solve Paths

A solver's first instinct with this (as most Wordle-based puzzles) should be to try and deduce what word is being guessed (as clued by the text under the puzzle). Based on the last two of the four guesses, it's known that the word starts with S, has a third letter of A, and contains an M and an L. This narrows down options considerably. The first few words that show up on Onelook that follow this pattern are "SMALL", "SMALT", and "SLAMS". Beyond that point, any available words are a bit too obscure to be likely. Based on the earlier guesses ruling out any additional letters, SMALT can't be the final answer (as T was already guessed as part of ORBIT). SLAMS can't work either, as L and M were already guessed in those positions and were marked "correct but in the wrong spot". Therefore, the most likely answer that fits the constraints is SMALL.

Part 1 Final Answer: Click to revealSMALL.

At this point, it's possible that not much still looks important to a solver. However, if one examines the border of the image closely, they'll notice that it's made up of a seemingly random selection of characters (a mix of +, -, ., <, >,, [, and ].) If they do a bit of research into what these characters have in common, they may come across an esoteric programming language known as Brainfuck, which is confirmed by the presence of the word in the puzzle's text. If solvers compile the characters into a single string starting at the top border, they will end up with a valid Brainfuck program:

`++++++++++[>+>+++>+++++++>++++++++++<<<<-]>>>>+++++++++++++++++++.---------------.---.+++++++++++++.-------------.<<++.>>+++.+++++++.-------------..+++++++.+++++++++++.-.<<.>>-------.---.+++++++++++++.-----------------.`

This program, if run (either in a dedicated desktop program, or via one of the many online compilers), will output the text `where hobbits live`, which is a clue to the final five-letter answer.

Part 2 Final Answer: Click to revealSHIRE.