You just couldn't let go of your dream to become some sort of cyberpunk Robin Hood, so you invented a device that connects your brain to the inner world of a high-security safe’s digital lock. Somewhat irritated, the safe suggests you play a game to make up for your intrusion. Lose and be locked in forever, or win to attain unimaginable wealth (to redistribute among those in need of course). Can you crack the cipher?

CIPHER-8 is a brain-twisting game where you push numbers into a grid. Well, numbers or  all kinds of manipulatory tricks. Or bombs apparently. Anyways, after all it’s about making the total value of each column match its goal value. However, changing one column affects the others as well. Oh and by the way, bonus points if you manage to plan ahead a few turns to keep your cipher streak going in the process!

There are two game modes:

  • BLITZ asks you to reach a target score in just 90 seconds, so you better get that brain juice flowing fast!
  • PUZZLE mode on the other hand is all about planning since there’s no timer, but you lose energy if you go without scoring for too many turns.

Both modes track your skill separately and become more challenging every time you beat them.

Fabian Fischer does not like raw arithmetic in games, so he created this game that makes you do arithmetic "the fun way", i.e. in relation to spatial dynamics. The transformation of the player’s thinking while making their way through the game can be seen as an illustration of Frank Lantz’s model of games being "a way for thought to become visible to itself".

At the same time, the game is an illustration of Fischer’s 2014 master’s thesis on game design in digital game-based learning, where he argued that educational games should weave their teaching into their core mechanics instead of serving it on the side or sugar-coating it with the "real" game.

Twitter: @Ludokultur

(You can find the PICO-8 cartridge on the Lexaloffle BBS.)

PlatformsWindows, macOS, Linux, HTML5
Rated 4.3 out of 5 stars
(7 total ratings)
AuthorFabian Fischer
GenrePuzzle, Strategy
Made withPICO-8
Tags2D, Arcade, blocks, combos, PICO-8, Pixel Art, Roguelike, Turn-based
Average sessionA few minutes
InputsKeyboard, Touchscreen


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Click download now to get access to the following files:

CIPHER-8 (Windows) 951 kB
CIPHER-8 (Linux) 709 kB
CIPHER-8 (Raspberry Pi) 2 MB

Development log


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This is a really cool concept. Got my brain ticking nicely.

Thank you so much! I know exactly what you mean, haha. :D


I'm not big brain enough for this 😄

But it's still really fun. I'm gonna use this to kill time when I'm bored. Great game!

Thank you so much!

Also I experienced it myself during testing: Your brain gets "bigger" (in terms of the thinking it takes to play this particular game well) over time. :D


It is a good game. The main mechanic is very original and the game has its own personality. Well done.

Thank you for playing and the kind words! Means a lot! :)

seems fun but i dont feel like learning it srry so much lovely gmame creator I lvveo you so m  jchn matepleas be Vhjappy caretadt and update game pls much love, me