A single-player mental puzzle game of unlocking words
Monday the 20th of June 2022

Today's random word

Hackronym #699: UNDELETES

Hackronym is a single-player puzzle game that uses the letters of a word as tools to unlock itself. It requires no pen or paper or game materials, with the player selecting any arbitrary word and then attempting to solve it in their head.

It's a combination of think-of-a-word-beginning-with games like Guggenheim, and ASCII roguelikes where a room full of letters is something to be navigated with care.


Example of play

The above diagram shows one possible way to unlock the word CLOCK:

All five letters in the word have now been visited, and the word has been unlocked.

To start a game, think of any word. A five-letter one is a good one to start with.

The aim of the game is to unlock that word, by visiting every letter of it. You do this by choosing a letter to start at, performing an ability of that letter to move your focus to a different letter, and so on until you've visited all the letters of the word. (You don't need to use an ability of the final letter, moving to it is enough.)

The abilities of each letter are up to you. Each ability must be a noun, verb or adjective that begins with that letter, and which somehow describes moving from letter to letter within the word. For example:

There is no canonical list of abilities to remember: you can and should make these up, and decide for yourself exactly how any given ability works. If you're happy with an ability, it's valid. If it feels too easy, stop using it.

Each letter can have multiple ability words within the game (eg. "C" could also mean CONSONANT or COPY; "F" could be FIRST, FOURTH or FIFTH), and you can choose which ability to use when you reach a letter. If you return to that letter again when solving a word, it's up to you whether you use the same ability again, or a different one.

If your word has a single letter that you don't have an ability for, that means you'll have to end on that letter. If it has more than one, then it's impossible; move on, perhaps trying it again in the future when you've levelled up by inventing some new abilities.


Your mileage will vary, but generally speaking a five-letter word is starting level difficulty, six or seven is average strength, and raising the word length beyond that will increase the difficulty according to how strong your short-term memory is.

Longer words become easier if you can see them written down, so you can also play Hackronym by glancing around your environment for a printed word, and trying to solve it while using it as a visual reference.

Manipulation abilities

If you want to play Hackronym in a more complex way, your abilities can also remove letters from the word, or change the order of them. (Removal can also make it possible to solve words which have multiple letters that you don't have abilities for.)

If the order of letters in the word is changed somehow, your imagined "cursor" stays in the same position, but is considered to have moved to whatever letter is in now that position: if you hit the "R" of ROBOT and invoke an ability called Reverse, you're now dealing with TOBOR, and play on as if you had just moved to the "T".

If letters get removed from a word, then later letters are shuffled left to fill the gap, with your cursor staying where it was. If you invoke an ability called Bomb on the "B" of ROBOT (the effect of which is to remove that B and the two letters on either side), you've now got RT with your cursor on the "T".


If you want some notation for comparing solutions, try a list of abilities terminated with the final letter alone. You can optionally add a hyphen and a number after any moves which would otherwise be ambiguous to the reader at that point, to clarify the position of the letter that you moved to.

For example, in the CLOCK solution above, since it wouldn't otherwise be immediately obvious which "C" the player was starting at, it could be written as:

Consonant-4 Left Centre Original Consonant K

The game of Hackronym is © Kevan Davis 2022. This is v1.0 of the game rules, last updated 20 June 2022.