Do you fancy yourself a pretty good puzzle solver? Then allow us to introduce you to the hardest riddle game on the Internet: Notpron. It has been active since 2004, and over 17 million people have played. And of those 17 million, only a scant 37 people have actually figured it out.
Then, in level two, you get the first inkling that this puzzle might be different from what you were expecting. All you have to go by is an image of a door with an arrow pointing up. It’s trying to point out the site’s URL, which ends with “level2.htm.” Change that to “level3.htm” and you’re on your way forward.
That’s the thing about Notpron: There are no instructions or rules to guide you. On every page is just another cryptic image, and you have to go by guesses and assumptions of what you’re supposed to do next. The answer might be hidden in the site’s source code, or a song lyric, or inside Adobe Photoshop, or anywhere.
In an interview with the website Fast Company, the puzzle master himself, David Münnich, explained, "You have to do things that would be considered totally user unfriendly in a normal case...You have to understand what the riddle is made of [at its most technical level], which is files in folders, basically. And you need to understand how there are different file formats and what they mean. So if you don't know anything about how a computer works, you will be totally lost."
And what glorious treasures await for those who actually progress through all 140 levels? We don’t know! Only Münnich and 37 other people know for sure, and they aren’t telling.
He only gives this tasty detail: "I made sure the last one is really special, and if you beat it, you experience something that might change your whole idea of how the universe works. Doesn’t that sound mysterious and provoking? But I actually mean it."
Anyway, have any of you played Notpron before? If so, tell us how far you went. For reference, when this writer gave the game a shot 10 years ago in the spring of 2006, I made it to level 68.
But before beginning, heed this one last bit of advice from the puzzle master: "I don't think anyone beat the game all alone, because you need to possess so many different skills, that it's nearly impossible for a single person. Usually it's little groups of friends who beat it step by step [with] everyone’s strengths being put to use."