Conjuri’s Request is a roguelite dungeon crawler. Each new run features a randomly generated map full of monsters and treasures. Each monster represents a minigame, such as solving an anagram or a small game of Minesweeper, and each treasure represents a feeder puzzle. Defeating a monster grants some gold, and opening a treasure (by solving the puzzle) gives a key. The map has many hallways blocked by doors, which can be unlocked with some minimum number of keys (without consuming them).
Basic gameplay consists of moving around the dungeon, trying to explore as much as possible before time runs out. After collecting enough keys, the player can reach the boss monster, which consists of fighting many (on the order of 40-50) regular monsters in a row. The player wins when they defeat every monster in this gauntlet.
The gold collected is saved between runs, and can be spent on items in the shop, which are intended to help the player progress further in future runs. Examples include Early Access, which increases the total time the player starts with, and Increase Starting Key, which gives the player a key for free at the beginning of the run.
After defeating the boss for the first time, the player is given a spellbook which they can use between runs to upgrade the items they’ve bought. The player chooses an item and “chants” the correct phrase, unique to each item, to upgrade it.
Solving the meta requires analysis of the game itself. After we’ve played enough runs as a team, we reach a few milestones (roughly in order):
The most obvious thing to do at this point is to try upgrading some items. We notice that the number of items matches the number of feeder puzzles, and that we can “use” each item on exactly one of the feeder answers to transform it. For each item, the transformed answer is the chant we use with the Spellbook to upgrade the item.
|Item||Transformation effect||Answer||Transformed answer|
|Cut Ability||Cut (semantically)||PIZZA||SLICE|
|Twister-in-a-Bottle||Anagram||OCTOBER SKY||ROCKET BOYS|
|Water Spray Bottle||Add water||CORNSTARCH||OOBLECK|
|Cape||Name the cape||DOCTOR STRANGE||CLOAK OF LEVITATION|
|Early Access Pass||Name the early version||TWITCH||JUSTIN TV|
|Duplication Device||Double (semantically)||BIRDIE||EAGLE|
|Heat Armor||Name the heat armor||JAMES WEBB SPACE TELESCOPE||SUNSHIELD|
|Expansion Pack||Name the expansion||CELESTE||FAREWELL|
|Time Slower||Slow down a time part||SECOND HAND||MINUTE HAND|
|Increase Starting Key||Increase starting key||LYDIAN||MIXOLYDIAN|
Next, we consider the flavor text which appears right before fighting the boss: "Count your foes carefully to map your way to victory. You might meet your match in this room!". We can take away the following:
After mapping out the layout and contents of the dungeon rooms a few times (probably with the help of the Hardener), we notice something that stays constant between runs — there’s always a unique way of pairing each puzzle with a monster in an adjacent room (note that there are always more monsters than puzzles, so some monsters will be left over).
Furthermore, though the matched monster is not always the same for a given puzzle, the number of times that the puzzle’s monster appears in the boss gauntlet doesn’t change between runs. Re-fighting the boss for a given run (on hard mode) further confirms that the number of times each puzzle’s monster appears and the order that the monsters appear in is the same.
Collecting together all this information over several runs, we get the following data:
|Puzzle||Transformed answer||Number of times corresponding monster appears in boss (index)||Extracted letter|
|Win a Game of Bingo||CLOAK OF LEVITATION||6||O|
|Set Off Fireworks||MINUTE HAND||4||U|
|Interpret Perplexing Texts||EAGLE||5||E|
|Run the Gamut||SLICE||2||L|
|Crack Some Crypts||JUSTIN TV||4||T|
|Eat Desserts on Main||STRESSED||4||E|
|Pluck the Petals||OOBLECK||3||B|
|Dispel the Bees||SUNSHIELD||2||U|
|Make Love or War||ROCKET BOYS||7||B|
|Cure the Werewolf's Woe||KARSK||4||S|
Note: Any given run only contains six to nine puzzles, so we would have to play several times to actually collect all of this.
We read down the extracted letters for the final answer of ROGUELITEBULBS.
Thanks to Catherine Wu for contributing to the first prototype we testsolved, both her and Edgar Chen for initial ideas, Alex Pei and Kevin Sun for steering the direction of the puzzle and playtesting several iterations of the game, and Herman Chau and Ivan Wang for additional last-minute tech work!
Note: Upgrading an item simply doubles its stats in all cases except for the Hardener, which instead makes it unequippable.
|Cut Ability||Gain the ability to cut, which is useful to cut up enemies (3 uses)|
|Increase Starting Key||This will increase your starting key count to 1|
|Handheld Mirror||Reflections are scary for some foes! (3 uses)|
|Twister-in-a-Bottle||Unleash the contents of this bottle to confuse your foes (5 uses)|
|Water Spray Bottle||Spray those who try to attack you! (3 uses)|
|Smoke Machine||Evade and blind foes by creating a smokescreen. +30% evasion, +20% damage reduction|
|Cape||A simple cape for sneaking, protection, and pockets. +15% damage reduction, +15% evasion, +15% gold gain|
|Heat Armor||This magical armor softens all damage. +33% damage reduction and +5 second buffer against damage|
|Coffee||For extra agility and dexterity. +2 mins to clock, and +5s prep time before a fight|
|Early Access Pass||Get early access to the game! Add +5 mins to the clock|
|Expansion Pack||Expand your inventory with an extra slot!|
|Duplication Device||This magical piggy bank doubles the amount of gold put in but doubles the damage you take. +100% gold, +100% damage taken|
|Time Slower||Slow down time during encounters, giving you a +15s head start where the timer is paused|
|Hardener||[CURSED: CANNOT BE UNEQUIPPED] Use the hardener on your game to play on Hard Mode, where monsters respawn after dying.|
Note: This didn't matter for the puzzle, but the monsters were classified as either text, visual, or interactive. Each of these types was instantly defeatable using the Cut Ability, Handheld Mirror, or Water Spray Bottle respectively.
|Pixie||Lyrics without vowels||Text|
|Spider||Copy text while flipping upper/lowercase||Text|
|Treant||Geography Multiple Choice||Text|
|Anglerfish||Count number of intersections in a loop||Visual|
|Beholder||Find the odd one out in a group of paired symbols||Visual|
|Ghost||Ghost Leg puzzle||Visual|
|Gorgon||Count the number of asteroids||Visual|
|Jiangshi||Find the two isomorphic graphs||Visual|
|Fireball||Wait a few seconds and time a button press||Interactive|
|Phoenix||Lights Out puzzle||Interactive|