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A Twisted Theory

by Alejandro Espinosa and Cameron Montag


This puzzle consists of several images and an audio file. The dots next to the images and numbers in the center indicate that we will probably need to connect these images with lines between the dots. We can immediately identify some of these images, but won't have enough information to connect them without the audio file.

The audio is an excerpt from a fictional podcast about conspiracy theories. The podcast has an intro, a long middle section, and an outro, separated by a music stinger. The intro and outro have several clues about what's going on with this puzzle: mentions of the pandemic, unclued anagrams, “mixing diseases around”, “abnormal variants”, “it's all Greek to me”, etc. With these, along with possibly identifying some of the topics in the middle section and identifying some of the images, we can figure out that this puzzle is about phrases that are anagrams of DELTA OMICRON, the two most widely-known Covid-19 variants (and a common subject for modern conspiracy theories).

Each phrase combines two of the images in the puzzle (a left half and a right half, based on the page shapes), and connecting those images with a line will pass through exactly one number. We can notice that the images are sorted in alphabetical order to help us confirm our matches. Indexing into the combined phrase and ordering by their reference in the audio gives the next step:

Left imageRight imageNumberExtract

Submitting RECORD A TIRADE gives instructions to send teammate a recording of a rant of your own! Upon doing so, we get the answer to this puzzle, KOD SIX MAN TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP.

Authors' Notes

  • We took care when placing the numbers between the images to try and maximize the number of left/right image pairs that have exactly one number between them, so solvers couldn't brute-force the matching this way.
  • This puzzle went through a lot of changes in its development - we came up with the initial idea back in January 2022 and originally designed it as connecting pushpins on a corkboard to pair up halves of crossword clues, with the extract phrase CREATE A DIORAMA. That eventually changed to the current audio + images format, since the old design was too similar to the presentation of the World History metapuzzle.
  • One of the authors had a friend in college that would sometimes go on long rants about nothing for comedic effect. We thought he would be the perfect person for the voice acting job. (This is extra information, but the longest one of these was 45 minutes long as an answer to the question “Why are you wearing a shelf?”)
  • After recording, we thought we needed to make it seem more like a podcast, so we added a last minute bumper (butt rock, of course) which also conveniently served as a divisor for the intro/outro sections with the main body of the puzzle.


Here's a compilation of some of our favorite tirades that we received.