The Secret of Chimera Labs features a puzzle about manipulating a strand of Deoxyribonucleic Acid, DNA. The puzzle consists of two redundant mono-alphabetic substation ciphers, a pattern-match, item assembly, and player action. The ciphers are redundant not because they are the same, because only one needs to be utilized in order to solve the puzzle.
Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is a molecule that encodes and carries genetic instructions used in the growth, development, functioning and reproduction of all known living organisms and many viruses. Hydrogen, Carbon, Nitrogen, Oxygen and Phosphorus are the elements which are found in DNA. The structure of DNA consists of two classes of molecule: bases and backbone.
The four nucleobases (Guanine, Cytosine, Adenine, Thymine) are divided into two groups purines and pyrimidines. These base pairs are abbreviated as G C A T. An example strand using letter-glyph symbols to represent a nucleobases is shown at the top of this article. The enciphering of ‘molecular structure’ to ‘symbols’ is one of the mono-alphabetic substitution ciphers at the core of the puzzle.
The purine Guanine is paired with pyrimidine Cytosine and will only connect with eachother in a closed strand of DNA. The purine Adenine is paired with the pyrimidine counterpart Thymine. Thus it is possible to determine both side of pair when only one molecule is known. Hydrogen bonds, electrostatic attractions between polarized groups of molecules or atoms, bond the bases to together.
The backbone of DNA is based on a repeated pattern of a sugar group and a phosphate group. The sugar present, deoxyribose, gives DNA its “D.”
The second enciphering was the encoding of the base-pairs, both structure and letter-glyph symbol to a color. These colors were purely fictitious. Their purpose is to ease user-experience by providing a more easily recognized attribute with which to trace back the substitutions to the puzzle solution.
With these pieces (structure, symbol, color) it is possible to quite readily create a pattern match puzzle as shown below. In this particular puzzle design, the symbol encoding (GACTA for example) serves as the key and is made available elsewhere in the game.
To play the puzzle in action and try to solve it your self, download The Secret of Chimera Labs on to your mobile device of choice.