Cryptic Images (Huntinality 2022)

Cryptic Images
Huntinality 2022
COO (Ruby Loach)
Cryptic Images 1.png
One of the clues from the puzzle, featuring the right half of Yami Yugi from Yu-Gi-Oh!
Author(s)Shuxin Zhan, Dan Simon, Melissa Yuan
AnswerClick to revealSETTLER
No. solves164
No. total guesses590

Cryptic Images is a cryptic-clue-based puzzle from the COO round of Huntinality 2022. Notably, it contains very few words, with only four instances of English text throughout the puzzle, and three of those four being contained within pictures.

Solve Path[edit | edit source]

Initially, the puzzle presents as extremely image-focused. Solvers are presented with ten rectangles (all with the same dimensions), each with a selection of images and squares within them. They are also presented with ten numbers, and a selection of twenty square images.


The odd images, combined with the title mentioning "Cryptic" should lead solvers to assume cryptic clues are involved somehow. They should also notice that the twenty images are the same size as the blank squares in each of the rectangles, indicating that they need to be placed in there. This is reinforced by there being a total of twenty blank spaces to be filled.

An in-road for this puzzle may be getting the definitions for some of the clues based on the partial clues already given. These include the last one in the left column [ Sounds like ??? Lit Pay Purr --> TOILET PAPER ], or the last one in the right column [ SAKE + ??? --> SNAKE ]. From there, it's easier to both identify what the missing element is, and get a better sense of how the clues work in general.

Depending on one's experience with cryptic clues, one may be able to quickly solve all of the clues, allowing them to move quickly to the next step of the puzzle. Regardless, the answers to the clues (left column, then right column) are as follows:

MIL (EMILY minus head [E] and legs [Y]) + L (from Death Note) --> MILL
BR (Brazil abbreviated) + ACKE (CAKE anagrammed) + T (As in T-Shirt) --> BRACKET
[RT (Right half of BART) + BOAR] in DAD --> DARTBOARD
SIG (GIS reversed) + MA (Short for mother) --> SIGMA
Sounds like [TOY + LIT + PAY + PURR] --> TOILET PAPER
RO (RADIO minus the middle) + D (Short for Diameter) --> ROD
TRES (Spanish for 3) in MATS --> MATTRESS
LI (Lithium's atomic symbol) + FESA (SAFE anagrammed) + VER (Right half of SILVER) --> LIFESAVER
GI (Right half of YUGI) + ANT (Left half of ANTHEM) --> GIANT
N (Head of NAIL) in SAKE --> SNAKE

Once all of the clues have been solved, solvers can index into the definitions by the numbers at the bottom, which have also been arranged into two columns of five each. These columns read MERGE DEFNS, indicating solvers should merge the definitions of the clues somehow. Not coincidentally, all of the definition images are represented by boxes with question marks in them.

At this point, the orientation of the indexing numbers, the two boxes at the bottom, and the fact that all of the clues are kept in identically-dimensioned boxes have not been used. Thankfully, all of them can be used at once now, as solvers need to take the clue of "MERGE DEFNS" literally, and merge the images (keeping their relative positions within the boxes and rotating them to match the index number orientations) into one large image.

When overlaid with the two boxes at the bottom, the final image should be split between them. The left should depict a traveller with a covered wagon. The right should contain a snake with a circle around its head, and an envelope that's been divided by wavy blue lines. Together, these two images form another cryptic clue to the final answer.

S (Head of SNAKE) + ETTLER (LETTER anagrammed) --> SETTLER

Track Differences[edit | edit source]

As with the other puzzles in this hunt, there are differences between the casual and expert tracks' versions of this puzzle.

The first primary difference in the casual version is the addition of flavortext pointing solvers to some helpful resources. The first is a link to Click to revealPuzzled Pint's guide to solving cryptic crossword clues. The second is a list of Click to revealhunt-recommended image-manipulation programs. The expert version has neither of these pieces of text.

The second difference in the casual version is the division of the twenty images at the bottom of the page into two groups (definitions and wordplay) as well as identifying the definition group as being placed where the boxes with question marks are. In the expert version, all of the images are lumped together and sorted alphabetically.

Puzzle Elements[edit | edit source]

Image-Heavy Presentation - Puzzle has no flavortext, and very little non-image text (only one line!)


Rebus/Cryptic Clues - Some may say that rebus puzzles are the visual equivalent of cryptic clues, but in this case, the clues presented straddle the line enough to invoke both. The way some clues involve flipping words upside down or sandwiching a word within another word leans more heavily towards cryptic conventions, while the classic A+B+C clues are solidly in rebus territory.

Indexing - Once the definitions have been identified, they can be indexed into by the numbers at the bottom to provide the phrase "MERGE DEFNS".

Image Manipulation/Overlaying - As the clue says, solvers need to merge the definitions. Since the definitions are all images, and have been placed in specific places within each clue's box, they can actually be overlaid with each other to form a new image placed in the diagram at the bottom of the page.

Recursion - The final image can be solved the same way the other clues are solved, and results in both a definition image, and a wordplay image (partially involving the anagram indicator used elsewhere in the puzzle). These together solve to the final answer.