Descartes Enigma is a game of logic and deduction, based
upon the puzzle created in Japan by Tetsuya Nishio, and popularized in
the United States by Games Magazine's World of Puzzles magazine as
"Paint By Numbers." In the United Kingdom, the game is known as
Nonograms. You're presented with a puzzle which conceals a hidden black
& white picture, and you must discover the picture using the
row and column clues which give you information about the locations of
the black "pixels" in the picture.
Below is a simple example of a puzzle from Descartes
Enigma, showing the puzzle at six different stages from beginning to
end. "A" is the beginning of the puzzle. This particular puzzle is a
10x10 array containing a hidden picture (which is revealed in "F" if
you can't keep from looking). You're given clues for each row and
column which tell you how many black squares there are in that row AS A
GROUP. A group of black squares are squares that are contiguous within
the row or column with NO white squares between them. If a white square
is between two black squares, then those two black squares belong to
different "groups." So, in this example, the first (topmost) row has
ONE group and it contains ONE black square. The second row contains TWO
groups, one of THREE squares and one of TWO squares. The third row
contains THREE groups of ONE square each. The groups always appear in
the proper sequence for the row or column. The only unknown is how much
white space exists before, between, or after each group. (This
explanation is continued below the diagram...)
The first couple of deductions are quite easy. The 4th column has a group of 10 blacks, and since the puzzle is only 10
squares high, the entire column is black. The 4th and 5th rows each have a group of 9 blacks. There's only two ways to position 9 black
squares within a row of 10 squares, and in both cases all but the end squares are black. (In other words, we know where 8 of the 9 black
squares are, because those squares are black in all possible ways that the 9 squares can be positioned in the row.) Now, with those deductions
made, we can determine a few squares that have to be white. Since the 3rd row has ONLY groups of 1's, the black square in the 4th column of
the 3rd row must have at least one white square on each side (because if one of the other groups of 1 black squares were positioned right
next to this one, then it would be a group of TWO rather than a group of ONE). The same thing applies to the 8th and 9th rows. Lastly,
looking at the 3rd column, the two black squares can ONLY be the group of TWO, and so must have at least one white square both above and below.
Now, moving on to figure C, the 1st row has only one group of one (which is already known), so ALL other squares in the
first row MUST be white. The 6th row has a single group of 6, so the black square that's known in that row MUST be the beginning of the
group of 6 (because it has a white square to its immediate left). So, we know where all 6 black squares are located, and all other squares in
the row must be white. Similar logic then applies to the 2nd column, where we can locate all 4 black squares, and the rest must be white.
Then, the three black squares in the 6th column are part of the single group of 4 blacks, so the fourth black must be either immediately above
or immediately below that group, and so all OTHER squares in that column must be white. Similar logic applies to the 7th column, except
here the additional group of 1 only allows us to turn one square white.
Continue with this kind of logic and eventually the entire puzzle is, simply, black and white. The puzzles vary in size
from 10x10 up to 75x45 (in steps of 5).
ADDITIONAL ENIGMA PUZZLE SETS
NOTE: The shareware
version of the Descartes Enigma will NOT load the following puzzle
sets. They will only work with the licensed version of the game. So, if
you have not yet purchased the licensed version, save yourself the
trouble of downloading these files.
The following files contain additional puzzles for the licensed
version of Descartes Enigma 2.0. (This
file will only work with version 2.0, not
version 1.0. If you have version 1.0 and wish to use future puzzle sets
that are posted to this page, you'll need to upgrade to version 2.0.
Sorry about that...). Simply download and run them to
install them in your DE "PUZZLES" folder (AFTER having installed the
licensed 2.0 version of the game!) Then run the game, and select them
from the Player-SelectPuzzleSet menu. The default install folder for
Descartes Enigma is C:\EKS\DE. These files would then be installed in
C:\EKS\DE\PUZZLES. If you changed the install folder during SETUP, then
you will need to appropriately modify the install folder for these
files to wherever you DID install Descartes Enigma.
Many of these puzzles were created and sent to me by users. If you create any you'd like to contribute to this list, send me
a copy by email or on disk, and I'll make them available for others to download and play. Also, if you create a color scheme that you think
others might enjoy, send it to me and I'll add it to this page too. (See Player-Colors in the program for alternate color schemes, and read
the Help screen for more information.)
DE_EXTRA - All of the extra puzzle sets as a single compressed EXE file. (June 2, 2004)
DE_EXTRA.ZIP - a ZIP file for those that want (or need, like OS X users) to unZIP themselves. UnZIP into the PUZZLES sub-folder of your DE folder!
GRANTSTUFF - 19 puzzles from Grant Fikes (June 2, 2004)
HEBREW - 22 puzzles from Jeff Kaylin. (May 31, 2004)