Sombra is probably an upcoming hero in Overwatch and we are super excited to play the stealth-based sniper, as Sombra is already one of the most hated characters because of the frustrating puzzles she has created for fans. Her cryptic messages have given thousands of fans sleepless nights and took code breakers, cryptographers, mathematicians, and a group called the Game Detectives several weeks to figure some of them out. Here’s a quick recap of how it began what puzzles Sombra threw at us and where we stand now.
An Origin Video released July 12 had some cryptic numbers arranged in a grid that appeared in between the video. The code appeared as a blank white screen and was only visible after altering the color levels. It was deciphered using an XOR cypher with the number 23 as a constant and here’s the result: “La que tiene la informacion; Tiene el poder,” a Spanish phrase, meaning “She who has the information, has the power.” The Spanish line was repeated four times followed by the word Sombra and was again repeated four times. This was only the beginning and the puzzle was solved in only 24 hours.
Then came the Developer update on July 19, which held the second clue. This time it was not in the middle of the video, but at the very end. The screen flickered to reveal a strange barcode, which when paused, analyzed, and converted into binary code (zeroes and ones). This was further converted into a QR code (don’t ask us how) and finally it bore the following message: “Estuvo eso facilito? Ahora que tengo su atencion, dejenme se las pongo mas dificil,” which is again a Spanish phrase, since we know Sombra is Spanish and operates out of Dorado in Mexico. It translates roughly into: “Was that easy? Now that i have your attention, let me make it much more difficult for you.” This code was also cracked within 24 hours.
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Blizzard dropped the next clue in the Summer Games video on August 2. The code appeared in a blue streak created as Tracer zoomed past the camera. Pausing at the right moment revealed a code hidden in blue effects. This is the one that stumped experts for a longer time and was decoded into a “Salted” message, which further requires a password. Additionally, the English version of the Summer Games video gave us what we call “the compass,” a series of cardinal directions found in the background of the heroes.
When asked about the compass on August 4, game director Jeff Kaplan had this to say: “The Compass? That sounds like some deep CIA level stuff, way above our heads.” Fans took the last four words of this sentence quite literally and “way above our heads” was thought of as the next clue. Fans found a message in the sky, in the Dorado, map of Overwatch, but this turned out to be leading nowhere. Blizzard dropped a clue as a datamoshed image, which was compared with the original image and allowed fans to decipher yet another message:
“Por que estan mirando al cielo? La respuesta no esta sobre sus cabezas, esta detras de ustedes. A veces, necesitan analizar sus logros previos.” This translates into: “Why are you looking at the sky? The answer isn’t over your heads, it’s behind you. Sometimes you have to analyze your previous achievements.”
This probably referred to the discovery of the compass and the salted message. Turns out, someone laid out all the compass images according to their directions, which resulted in a 3 by 3 grid of nine images, 8 cardinal directions, and the center one being no direction at all. All the images had a specific character image or icon on them, and experts put all the names of the respective characters in order. This was a groundbreaking discovery, and although seems too simple and dumb, it turned out to be the password for the salted message.
The result was a string of texts that were immediately recognized as a URL for an image on the Blizzard website. This image was also datamoshed and when compared with the original, it had a text message, along with a skull made in what is called ASCII art. The message reads: “Parece que te gustan estos jueguitos… por que no jugamos uno de veridad?” In English, it roughly says: “It seems you like these little games, why don’t we play a real one?”
That’s all the information we have on the Sombra ARG so far. Blizzard is known for easter eggs, and giving players some puzzles to solve, but with a community of thousands toiling away, this recent ARG was just too much. Let us know what you think of the clues and when you think Sombra will be revealed.