"Oh magus, you have begun thy journey. Your master's temple has fallen but his work is not yet finished…" - Orrin Oscar Lutwidge
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Puzzle Boxes are several locked boxes that were sent to Mark Meltzer during his investigation of his daughter's disappearance. As suggested by the names, their locks are elaborate puzzles instead of traditional mechanisms.
- 1 The Lunchbox
- 2 The Metal Box
- 3 The Jewelry Box
- 4 The Coordinate Piano
- 5 Metal Box Level Two
- 6 Rubix Tube
- 7 Metal Box Level Three
- 8 Metal Box Level Four
- 9 Metal Box Level Five
- 10 References
The Lunchbox is the first puzzle box that Mark Meltzer received, appearing in Mark’s office on the night of May 28, 1968. A call from Benny Stango to Mark the following morning mentions neighbor’s seeing a “red light” around Meltzer’s office. This leads us to suspect that the Lunchbox was left by the Big Sister. Nicknamed "the demonic lunchbox" by some fans, it appears to be an old fashioned lunchbox with three dials on it. A message written in the cipher created by Lutwidge covers almost the entire outer surface, repeating the phrase “I can't remember my birthday. Do you remember my birthday? I have a new birthday.” The lunchbox will open only after the three dials have been twisted to highlight a specific combination of symbols at the top.
The password is "ICF" in Lutwidgian Cipher, or when A=0 B=1 C=2 etc. it is "8-25"; Cindy's date of birth. Oddly enough, if you count another way, A=1 B=2 C=3 etc., you would get "9-3-06": Orrin Oscar Lutwidge's date of birth.
The interior of the lunchbox contains a Splicer mask, some paper Little Sister dolls, a crayon drawing of a Big Sister and a little girl while the Big Sister is attacking an unknown blond female, and a message in Lutwidgian cypher "It's cold down here. Daddy, come find me."
The lunchbox is in many ways the most mysterious of all of the puzzle boxes. There are still several unanswered questions about it. Why did the Big Sister deliver it to Mark, and Mark alone? Who is the one saying in the encoded language on the lunchbox "I can't remember my birthday. I have a new birthday." How was it created using the Lutwidgian cipher and a Lutwidge-like puzzle when Lutwidge was in the asylum and yet referenced stuff that was very recent, such as the new Little Sisters?
The Metal Box
The Metal Box/ Vault Puzzle is the second puzzle that Mark Meltzer found. He discovered it in the burnt-out remains of Lutwidge’s Managerial Suites on Lower Broadway. Mark found the box by looking in a hatchway under the floorboards as he was clued to do by Lutwidge’s “For the Seeker” recording. Lutwidge refers to this puzzle as “the three fold key with the seven fold lock.” This puzzle looks like a simple metal box, somewhat resembling a fireproof safe or a large speaker box. Little did Mark know that this box would contain his ultimate link in his journey towards Rapture. This puzzle contains multiple levels, each with different rules requiring different sequences of letters to be input in Lutwidgian cipher.
Starting November 4, the Metal Box puzzle will only be visible in Mark's office if the "Coordinate Piano" of the Jewelery Box Puzzle has not been solved by the viewer on their local computer.
The first level looks like a series of square metal ridges, one inside the other, with buttons marked with Lutwidgian cipher wedged in the grooves between. The buttons can be moved in such a way that they will disappear from one groove and appear on another. If the correct buttons are moved to the groove at the center of the puzzle they will disappear.
The correct sequence spells out "Red Queen".
Upon solving this puzzle a message from Lutwidge plays: "O Magus, you have begun thy journey. Your master's temple has fallen but his work is not yet finished. Turn south by west toward great Muhheakantuck. Upon its shoulder shall you find the decrepit corpse of the Red Queen. If you would run her race than seek her crown jewels, they wait beyond the looking glass. Follow the twinkling of gems, O seeker, and you shall unlock the roads to Rapture. This is Orrin Oscar Lutwidge, September 1958."
This message alludes to Lutwidge’s Scarlet Sovereign Imports/Exports Warehouse that Mark must find in order to receive the Jewelry Box.
The Jewelry Box
The Jewelry Box Puzzle was the third puzzle box that Mark Meltzer found. It was discovered by Mark in the crumbling ruins of Lutwidge's former company, Scarlet Sovereign Import/Export along the bank of the Hudson River. Following the clues left by Lutwidge in the recording from the first level of the Vault puzzle Mark entered the warehouse and found a bathroom with a door painted red. Within was a “looking glass” which Mark broke to find the jewelry box and other important items related to August 8.
On the outside this puzzle resembles an ornately styled, golden box with blue lights in holes in the metalwork. Clicking on a blue light will cause another blue light to appear in a different slot.
Each light must be clicked once immediately after it appears. Clicking the same light more than once will cause the entire puzzle to be reset. It is a good idea to draw a diagram of the position of each new light to aid you in the completion of this memory game. An easy way to achieve this is to hold or fix a semi-transparent piece of paper directly to the screen, move the mouse to each new light, darken the paper over the new light with a pencil, then click and repeat.
Completing this puzzle will cause the Jewelry Box to open up, revealing the second puzzle, termed “the Coordinate Piano” and causing a message from Lutwidge to play: "You have unlocked the treasures of the empresses, but in the unbinding of the lock, you also found the key. For the key points to the sea where the grandest treasure waits, but the sea has its own strange song. If you find yourself stranded on the shore with the evidence you long have sought yet unable to advance, then listen well and take notes. This is Orrin Oscar Lutwidge, one other lolling in drunken ecstasy upon the way to Rapture."
Note that the word "drunken" is a clue to the next stage of this puzzle.
The Coordinate Piano
The Coordinate Piano appears as three rows of ten keys with a set of a specific times and latitude/longitude coordinates grouped by musical tone. The tiles in the upper row are labeled with various times and six of them light up with a solid glowing sun symbol while the remaining four light up with a sun symbol with a black center. The middle and lower rows contain keys labeled with latitude or longitude coordinates. Pressing any key will cause two other keys in separate rows with the same color and tone to be highlighted. A golden plate on the bottom of the puzzle's lid reads "08/08", alluding to the August 8th beach event. Using the combinations of highlighted keys it is possible to learn the lat./long. location and time of sunrise for every beach in the August 8th event.
The keys of the Coordinate Piano play the notes C, C#, D, D#, E, F, F#, G, G#, A. This also matches up with the darkened or non-darkened suns. The dark suns represent the sharp keys (the #'s/black keys) on the piano. There is no black key between E and F on a piano, thus there is no dark sun between the E and F keys on the puzzle. Noticeably, the A# key and the B key are both missing on the piano puzzle; so it isn't a complete scale. The key signatures that correspond to the aforementioned notes are E Major and C# Minor; either of these Key Signatures would have the above notes in their scales.
The key is to play the notes to the song "What shall we do with the drunken sailor?"
- Step 1: Hit the 10th key on the top row, seven times.
- Step 2: Hit the 3rd key on the top row, once.
- Step 3: Hit the 6th key on the top row, once.
- Step 4: Hit the 10th key on the top row, once.
- Step 5: Hit the 8th key on the top row, seven times.
- Step 6: Hit the 1st key on the top row, once.
- Step 7: Hit the 5th key on the top row, once.
- Step 8: Hit the 8th key on the top row, once.
Playing the piano keys in the correct order will cause the second level of the Vault Puzzle to open up.
Metal Box Level Two
This level of the puzzle box only appears after the second level of the Jewelry Box, the Coordinate Piano, has been completed.
Also referred to as the 4x4 puzzle, it appears as a 4x4 grid of characters from the Lutwidgian cipher with an empty bar attached to the right side. Pressing any two letters in the grid will cause them to light up green and a red cipher symbol to appear in the side bar. Incorrectly filling the side bar will cause a recording of Lutwidge to speak a line from a riddle before the puzzle rearranges itself into a different 4x4 grid.
- When to Rapture's depths, the seeker doth descends,
- Through a pane of glass, he'll see my glassy head.
- Two eyes watch my fore, like Janus I do spy,
- I see both fore and aft, with ideas hyper wide.
- The Greeks would say, that I have feet on either side,
- I camouflage myself, by showing what's inside.
- Like an Englishman, my children I do lug,
- In a carriage that I cram, I push them with a shrug.
- A barrel is my home, with squirts inside its walls,
- My eggs are set like jewels, within its crystal hall.
- Now if you learn my name, you'll know how deep to sink,
- Seek where Rapture lies, I wait upon its brink.
The goal is to fill the side bar with the correct sequence of eight symbols, spelling "Phronima" in the Lutwidgian cipher.
("Phronima" is a type of deep-water marine life, and is what Lutwidge is describing in his riddle. Further clues to this appeared in several locations throughout Meltzer's room; Including: a sheet of paper on which Mark sorted through his thoughts on the puzzle, the book "Unusual Crustaceans of the North Atlantic: Volume 2", and a message and letter from Roscoe Inman promising information.)
As for which buttons to press, it’s a simple case of Math.
Each letter in the translated cipher alphabet corresponds to a number. Counting up from A: A = 0, B = 1 etc. You must add a pair of letters together in order to get the final number; the number of the letter which will appear in the side bar.
- For instance:
- 13 (N) + 2 (C) = 15 (P)
- And so the symbol for P would appear in the column on the right.
There are some extra conditions as well. Adding numbers to make more that 26 automatically returns 0(A), as does selecting two of the same symbol.
Each 4x4 grid is randomly generated, thus it is difficult to give a complete walkthrough. However, if you are lazy and do not want to solve the grid on your own, you can find a master key with all possible solutions in a PDF file, here:
- Download this PDF - 4x4 Answer Key - All Possible Solutions (click me)
- (The creator of this key is known as "Meltzer" on the 2K BioShock 2 official forums.)
GLITCH/BUG WARNING: Sometimes the website will freeze and crash at this point (after completing the 4x4 puzzle) and the 5x5 grid will not open. There is nothing that can be done other than to reload the website, re-complete the 4x4 puzzle, and hope it doesn't freeze the next time.
Upon solving the puzzle, a new message from Lutwidge is played and the third level of the metal box is revealed:
"Seeker, you have fathomed the depths of the secret. You know now what wonders wait in Rapture, both within and without. But if it remains beyond your reach, despair not, for the Red Queen's race has nearly run its course. Keep the faith and you shall embark upon the White Knight's journey. The Knight's question must be answered, only then will the seven fold lock at last unfold. Its lights will lead you through the wreckage and prepare you for your last descent. This is Orrin Oscar Lutwidge, one other laboring on the waves to Rapture."
Note that the phrases "White Knight's journey" and "Knight's question" are clues to the next stage of this puzzle.
This is the fourth puzzle that Mark acquired. He received it from Quain/Lutwidge when he visited him in Tollevue Hospital. This puzzle derives its name from its resemblance to a Rubik's Cube. It is also similar to a cryptex. The Rubix Tube is a cylinder with 3 rings, each having 5 sides covered with patterned sliding tiles. There are three tiles per side and five tiles per ring, minus one tile overall. The goal of the puzzle is to arrange the tiles so that the edges of their patterns match up with each other, with the markings on the rings, and with the top and bottom of the tube.
After the patterns are matched the tube will open up to reveal Orrin Oscar Lutwidge/Rod Killian Quain’s Journal, a transcript of which can be found here.
Mark solved this puzzle before finding the "key" to the 5x5 level of the Metal Box Puzzle. Notably, the last page of the Lutwidge's journal contain clues to how to solve the 5x5:
- "For the checkered Journey can be traversed only by a KNIGHT,
- And none are left in this game but PAWNS
- of the Broken-hearted Prophet I have SPAWNED."
The mention of the "Knight's Journey", "Broken-hearted Prophet" and "Pawns" are all clues to the next level of the Metal Box.
Metal Box Level Three
Referred to as the 5x5 puzzle, the third level of the Metal Box is simply a 5x5 grid with each tile representing a letter in the Lutwidgian cypher (except for X and Y, which share a tile). When the viewer clicks one symbol, it briefly lights up green, remains illuminated for a moment, then flickers and goes out.
The solution to the 5x5 level of the metal box is the answer to the "White Knight's Question," as mentioned by Lutwidge in his recording from the opening of level two of the Metal Box.
However, foolish Parsifal, before you know the answer you must first know the question.
The "Question" can be found by performing a closed "knight's tour"  on the 8x8 grid of cypher covered tiles found in Lutwidge's basement workshop. Dash Carmady sent pictures of these tiles to Mark near the end of Phase Two of Something in the Sea. A composite image of all translated tiles can be seen in the gallery below.
The question begins at the "?" symbol and moves across the 8x8 grid, touching all letters that can be reached by the movement pattern of a knight on a chessboard, until all squares have been touched once.
The completed tour forms the question:
- "THE RED PAWN LIES BUT WHERE LIE THE DOLMENS OF HIS FEIGNED ANTIQUE OBSESSION?"
The answer to this question is the location of a Dolmen in a photo that Jeremiah Lynch (aka, the "Red Pawn") sent Mark near the beginning of Phase Two. This dolmen is actually a part of the Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery in Ireland.
The Answer: Punch in the letters "CARROWMORE" on the face of the 5x5 grid.
This will open the next level of the puzzle.
Metal Box Level Four
After completing level three of the metal box, the next level of the puzzle appears. This level is often referred to as the "Nixie Puzzle" on the 2K BioShock 2 forums because the many bulbs inside resemble nixie tubes. This level contains 20 light bulbs, 10 in each row, that flash a series of yellow cypher symbols one after another.
Additionally, the puzzle contains seven clickable cypher symbols that hang down below. They spell:
Clicking on any of these symbols will cause the flashing to stop and a cypher letter to be fixed in the first bulb above. Clicking more of the bottom symbols will fill more bulbs. Incorrectly filling all of the bulbs will cause them to clear and then begin flashing again.
The sequence of cypher letters that flash in the bulbs is actually a message in ADFGX cipher.
This message can be decoded using the cryptic word search grid in the book A Child's Garden of Cyphers. The cypher filled box of this word search forms a 5x5 Polybius decoder grid with the circled letters at the top and side of the grid, "ERDNA" and "WRYAN," as the five letter keywords of the cypher decoder.
Using this grid any letter can be represented by a combination of two letters from "ANDRE" and "WRYAN." (These two keywords form Andrew Ryan's name when put together, which explains why the encoded messages use only letters from Ryan's name.)
Below is the order of symbols that appear in the first message. This is the message that will play when the puzzle first opens to the fourth level.
|After decoding, the first message reads:
This message is a riddle. It refers to a German U-boat (or in German, "U-Boot") which was captained by a man named "Hans Hunger." This U-boat was sunk in 1943 in the Straits of Denmark south-west of Iceland. This was hinted at by a radio message from Lt. Commander Roscoe Inman. Notably, the coordinates at which this U-boat was sunk fall within The Frozen Triangle.
The answer to this riddle is the name of the U-boat, "U-336." To input this answer into the puzzle it must first be translated to cypher and then encoded in ADFGX.
Type this in by clicking on the seven cypher keys.
After the first riddle is solved the puzzle will begin flashing a new sequence.
|This translates to:
This is a reference to page 73 of The Frozen Triangle which was sent out as a promotional mailing to fans who had previously sent Mark letters. This page talks about the disappearance of a ship named "The Baldur" within the Frozen Triangle. This ship was captained by "Ragnarsson."
The answer to this riddle is "Ragnarsson".
Converted to ADFGX code, it is "AWNAEWANNAAWNRNRRWAN".
Entering this will cause yet another coded message to begin flashing.
|This translates to:
This is a reference to the USAF C-47 "Skytrain" plane, mentioned in The Frozen Triangle book that vanished in 1947 while it was flying over the Frozen Triangle. The riddle asks for the name of the airport that the plane last disembarked from. The answer is a coastal airport in Kulusuk, Greenland. In Greenlandic Kulusuk means "the chest of a Black Guillemot," which is a type of bird, i.e. an "ebon fowl." This was hinted at in a radio message from Roscoe Inman.
The answer to this riddle is "Kulusuk".
Converted to ADFGX code, it is "ARNYNWNYNRNYAR". Entering this will cause the next coded message to begin flashing.
|This translates to:
Starting December 1 several fans who had sent mail to Mark received postcards containing clues. On the front was a picture of a plane, and on the back, a description including the last-known coordinates of the Skytrain (63 N, 32 W), along with the message, "I hear Meltzer is looking for this. Pass it on. - A friend". This mailing of post cards was hinted at by a radio transmission from Phil Isidore.
The entire description on the postcard reads:
"1947 - THE TRAGIC LAST FLIGHT OF A GROUP OF U.S. ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS BEGAN IN KULUSUK AND ENDED IN THE ICY ATLANTIC. THE PLANE'S LAST REPORTED POSITION WAS 63 N, 32 W. IT HAS NEVER BEEN RECOVERED."
The answer to this riddle is the coordinates: "63 N 32 W".
To input this answer into the puzzle it must first be translated to cypher and then encoded in ADFGX.
Enter this by clicking on the seven cypher keys and the next level of the puzzle will be revealed.
After the Fourth Riddle is solved this will be the default starting position for the puzzle.
Upon entering the fourth answer, there is a red glow from within the box, the top row of tubes recedes, and out comes an audio strip with a speaker, oscilloscope, and a replay button. The familiar voice of Orrin Oscar Lutwidge plays through a new recording as he provides us with our next riddle:
"All the red pawn's ancient lore should be studiously ignored. The stones are mute. They tell you not. Yet in his pack of lies, he's caught an accidental truth. The tales they tell in Reykjavik of sailors lost and broken ships all end in tragedy, save one. Tell the name, and you'll be done, save five more steps, forsooth."
This riddle is a reference to the English trawler "Hackness" which was attacked by Icelandic ships during the Cod Wars and became lost in open waters only to see a vision of the "Phantom Lighthouse." Clues to this could be found in the book Back to the Frozen Triangle and a journal note by Mark about his meeting with the Ivory Pawn.
- The answer to this riddle is: "Hackness".
- When translated into the ADFGVX code, it yields: "AYNARYARANEANRNR".
Once this final code is entered, the fourth level of the metal box folds in and the next puzzle is revealed.
Metal Box Level Five
The next level reveals what appears to be a map that shows the west coastline of Iceland and the south-east coast of Greenland. The outlines of two triangles also appear on the map. The large triangle is presumably the Frozen Triangle, while the smaller triangle inside the large one resembles the triangle on Mark's map. The central dot could represent the location of Rapture.
In this level, the viewer must use the arrow keys on his or her keyboard. Each time an arrow key is pressed the white dot will move two spaces. In order to complete this puzzle the little white dot must be navigated around the board, avoiding the moving lines of blue dots and the four red dots around the middle red dot. The goal is to move the white dot onto the five yellow lights at different places on the map from the correct direction to gain access to the middle red dot. At the beginning of each attempt the yellow lights will blink in a randomized sequence showing the order in which they must be reached. The lights will also flash to repeat the remaining sequence of dots each time one is reached. Staying on one of the five "safe" yellow dots for too long will start a warning timer for the white dot to move.
The difficulty of the puzzle increases gradually. The number and speed of the lines of blue dots will increase after each yellow dot has been reached. At the beginning of an attempt the blue lines of dots will only move across the screen from the left. After the first yellow light is reached they will come from the left and right. After the third dot is reached they will come from the bottom as well, and when the fourth dot is reached they will come from all sides.
Once all the yellow lights have been reached the four red lights around the central red dot disappear and the white dot must be moved onto the central red dot to finish the puzzle.
Once the puzzle is completed, Orrin Oscar Lutwidge's voice is heard in a new message:
- "The time has come to part the veil, and on the frozen angles sail. To chase the glimmered phantom light to Wonderland, in strange delight. Rapture failed its faithful liege, the Knight must fill the city's need. So put thy armor on thy breast - embark upon thy noble quest. The tower's black - the light is bright. But in this world, where wrong is right, fall not prey to shades of gray! Defend the sisters... on your way. This is Orrin Oscar Lutwidge, One Old Lost soul... remembering Rapture. "
The last formation of the box is revealed, following this: a compass that points towards Rapture.