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Revision as of 17:18, 24 August 2016

Sombra ARG
Active since 06-12-2016
Overwatch logo.jpg
The Sombra ARG - an ARG involving an unreleased Overwatch hero.
Type [[List_of_Investigations#Official|Official]]
Creator Blizzard
Discovered 06-12-2016

Main Page > List of Investigations

The Sombra ARG is an ARG involving Overwatch, a game made by Blizzard. Sombra is the name of an unreleased Overwatch hero that has been hinted at by Blizzard as being an upcoming playable character. Clues and ciphers referencing Sombra were found in various developer updates and short animations released by Blizzard, and this ARG is comprised of those clues.

At the game's release, there were numerous pieces of in-game information that appeared in Dorado, hinting at a character called Sombra. When Ana was revealed as Overwatch’s newest character, more Sombra clues appeared in Ana's origin video. In the weeks that followed, more clues were discovered.

Ana Videos

Ana Origin Video

On July 12, 2016, a video for the new Overwatch hero named Ana was released. By pausing the video at the 1:16 time mark, a bunch of hexadecimal numbers were discovered:

Ana Hex2.png

2E 2E 2E 7B 76 20 66 62 72 20 63 7E 72 79 72 20 7B 76 20 7E
79 71 78 65 7A 76 74 7E D4 A4 79 2C 20 63 7E 72 79 72 20 72
7B 20 67 78 73 72 65 2E 2E 2E 7B 76 20 66 62 72 20 63 7E 72
79 72 20 7B 76 20 7E 79 71 78 65 7A 76 74 7E D4 A4 79 2C 20
63 7E 72 79 72 20 72 7B 20 67 78 73 72 65 2E 2E 2E 7B 76 20
66 62 72 20 63 7E 72 79 72 20 7B 76 20 7E 79 71 78 65 7A 76
74 7E D4 A4 79 2C 20 63 7E 72 79 72 20 72 7B 20 67 78 73 72
65 2E 2E 2E 7B 76 20 66 62 72 20 63 7E 72 79 72 20 7B 76 20
7E 79 71 78 65 7A 76 74 7E D4 A4 79 2C 20 63 7E 72 79 72 20
72 7B 20 67 78 73 72 65 2E 2E 2E 64 78 7A 75

A simple Hex to ASCII translation gave us

...{v fbr c~ryr {v ~yqxezvt~Ô¤y, c~ryr r{ gxsre...{v fbr c~ryr {v ~yqxezvt~Ô¤y, c~ryr r{ gxsre...{v fbr c~ryr {v ~yqxezvt~Ô¤y, c~ryr r{ gxsre...{v fbr       
c~ryr {v ~yqxezvt~Ô¤y, c~ryr r{ gxsre...dxzu

Using an XOR Cipher with the constant 23 on the above text, we got

..la que tiene la información; tiene el poder...la que tiene la información; tiene el poder...la que tiene la información; tiene el poder...la que tiene la  
información; tiene el poder...somb

The Spanish translates to

She who has the information, has the power...

A second frame of hexadecimal numbers was discovered at the 2:11 time mark of the video:

Ana Hex.png

65 76 2E 2E 2E 7B 76 20 66 62 72 20 63 7E 72 79 72 20 7B 76
20 7E 79 71 78 65 7A 76 74 7E D4 A4 79 2C 20 63 7E 72 79 72
20 72 7B 20 67 78 73 72 65 2E 2E 2E 7B 76 20 66 62 72 20 63
7E 72 79 72 20 7B 76 20 7E 79 71 78 65 7A 76 74 7E D4 A4 79
2C 20 63 7E 72 79 72 20 72 7B 20 67 78 73 72 65 2E 2E 2E 7B
76 20 66 62 72 20 63 7E 72 79 72 20 7B 76 20 7E 79 71 78 65
7A 76 74 7E D4 A4 79 2C 20 63 7E 72 79 72 20 72 7B 20 67 78
73 72 65 2E 2E 2E 7B 76 20 66 62 72 20 63 7E 72 79 72 20 7B
76 20 7E 79 71 78 65 7A 76 74 7E D4 A4 79 2C 20 63 7E 72 79
72 20 72 7B 20 67 78 73 72 65 2E 2E 2E

When put through the same process, the same string of Spanish was revealed, but with the letters ra at the start. These letters were combined with somb from the other cipher to create sombra, the name of an unreleased hero that has been hinted at by Blizzard in the past. This led us to believe that this ARG was related to Sombra. The ARG was named accordingly.

Dev Update Video

The vertical barcodes found at the end of the Ana Dev Update video

At the end of this video, a series of vertical barcodes were discovered. The barcodes were found to be binary, a dump of which is available here, credit of redditor /u/zapu.

Discord user Crauss turned the ones and zeroes into black and white pixels, which formed a QR code:

Sombra QR code.png

Scanning this QR code yielded the following message:

"¿Estuvo eso facilito? Ahora que tengo su atención, déjenme se las pongo más difícil." 

And translated from Sombra's native language of Spanish into English:

Was that easy? Well, now that I have your attention, allow me to make things much more difficult.

Welcome to the Summer Games Video

The base64 cipher in the Summer Games video

On August 2, another cipher was discovered in this video - this time, the ciphertext was in base64:


Using a tool to decode the Base64 results in the following output:


(Note: copy/pasting this string will not work; some of the characters will not paste properly)

Decrypting the Encryption

The "Salted__" header at the start of the string indicates that the remainder of the text is encoded in an OpenSSL cipher, which requires a key and a known cipher. Salts are added to encrypted data to ensure uniqueness.

Since we know the salt, and we know the input data, all we need to decrypt is the password and cipher method. Since OpenSSL has been around for ages, there are many different cipher methods.

A Cipher is a mathematical algorithm to convert data into unreadable binary data.

A Password is key to the box, if you know it you can easily decrypt the data.

Narrowing Down Ciphers

Hex view of the encrypted string

The Cipher used has been narrowed down by looking at a Hex Dump of the encrypted string. There are two major types of ciphers, stream ciphers and block ciphers. Stream ciphers encrypt only the data fed into them, whereas block ciphers will always be a set chunk length.

A byte is roughly a single character, but special characters can take up multiple bytes. We know that OpenSSL Salted Encryption uses the first 8 bytes of the output for Salted__ and the next 8 bytes for the actual salt. The rest of the information is the encrypted message.

The immediately interesting thing here is that the encrypted message data stops 3 bytes short of a full chunk. This is a excellent indicator that the cipher used is a stream cipher (or a block cipher in CTR/OFB/CFB mode). This narrows our cipher list down significantly. This also means that the final string that Blizzard encrypted is less than 93 bytes!

At the time of writing, this cipher remains unsolved; it's speculated that Blizzard moved us past the cipher by giving us hints.

Directions & Letters

There are references to directions that are present in the North American version of the video. These references are conspicuously absent from other versions of the trailer. These references are shown below, with the relevant heroes and timestamps:


Album of full screencaps

Here are the screencaps, arranged according to their directions.

Overwatch map.jpg

Dorado Photo

On the Overwatch media page, a new photo of the attacking spawn in Dorado was added. This photo was "datamoshed", which means it concealed a hidden message while also taking on a distorted appearance. (Here is an example of purposely data moshing the image manually to achieve similar effects)

After comparing the images via difference checking tools, it was found that certain English and Spanish characters were replaced with exclamation points, producing a Spanish sentence out of the replaced characters.

"Por que estan mirando al cielo? La respuesta no esta sobre sus cabezas, esta detras de ustedes. A veces, necesitan analizar sus logros previos."

Translated into English, this phrase is

"Why are you looking at the sky? The answer isn't over your heads, it's behind you. Sometimes, you need to analyze your previous achievements."

The phrase "Why are you looking at the sky?" is most likely a reference to a strange artifact that was discovered in the sky of the Dorado map, but various processes of decryption were fruitless.

Analyzing Achievements

"¿" Achievement, comment in source code

The phrase "you need to analyze your previous achievements" led us to look at the achievements on the Play Overwatch Website. We noticed that if you logged in and viewed the achievements on your player profile, a mystery achievement appeared. Viewing the source code of the image lead us to a new phrase:

Vientos, nada mal. No obstante, me aburro. Intentemos algo nuevo en la misma dirección.
uczihriwgsxorxwunaarawryqhbrsfmeqrjjmu 5552E494 78T3 4VM9 OPL6 IS8208O913KRlrx

Translated, it says:

Damn, not bad. However, I'm getting bored. Let's try something new in the same direction.
uczihriwgsxorxwunaarawryqhbrsfmeqrjjmu 5552E494 78T3 4VM9 OPL6 IS8208O913KRlrx

Volskaya Datamosh

The following instructions explain the process of how the ASCII Skull and "little games" quote were found:

1. Take the following section of code from the "?" achievement hint above.

uczihriwgsxorxwunaarawryqhbrsfmeqrjjmu 5552E494 78T3 4VM9 OPL6 IS8208O913KRlrx

2. Run it through a Vigenére Cipher

3. Use heroes in the order of their positions on the compass (further above) to get hero names for the passphrase:


4. The code received will result in the following url which, when formatted in to a proper URL, becomes the following picture:

blzgdapiproaakamaihdnetmediascreenshot 5552E494 78B3 4CE9 ACF6 EF8208F913CFjpg

The distortion on this picture indicates that it, too, is "datamoshed", and that it conceals hidden information. A difference check between the new and original image resulted in an interesting message.

ASCII Skull #1

The diff from the datamosh resulted in the following output:

Parece que te gustan estos jueguitos... por que no jugamos uno de verdad?
                          :[email protected]:
                      ,[email protected]@[email protected]@[email protected]
                   [email protected]@[email protected]@[email protected]@Nr
               :[email protected]@@@[email protected]@[email protected],
           :[email protected]@[email protected]@[email protected]@@[email protected]@BBu.
        [email protected]@@[email protected]@[email protected]@[email protected]@[email protected]@Nr
      [email protected]@@BJ [email protected]@@  [email protected]  [email protected]@B. [email protected]@S
      @@[email protected]  [email protected]@OU1:  [email protected]@[email protected]
      [email protected]@B       [email protected]@:       [email protected]@B
      @@@[email protected]         [email protected]@@[email protected]@:         @@[email protected]@
      @@OLB.          [email protected]@BEB          [email protected]
      @@  @           M  [email protected]  M          [email protected]  @@
      @@OvB           B:[email protected]          [email protected]
      @[email protected]@J         [email protected]@[email protected]@u         [email protected]@@[email protected]
      [email protected]@v       [email protected]@[email protected]       [email protected]@B
      @[email protected]   [email protected]@[email protected]@BZM7   [email protected]@
      [email protected]@@BM  [email protected]@B  [email protected]@[email protected]  [email protected]@B  @[email protected]@M
       [email protected]@@@[email protected]@[email protected]@OMBB.   ,@[email protected]@[email protected]@@[email protected]
          [email protected],[email protected]@[email protected]@E  :  [email protected]@@@[email protected]@@N:
             .   [email protected]@[email protected]@[email protected]@[email protected]@@@[email protected]
                 @[email protected]@[email protected]@[email protected]@[email protected]::[email protected]@
                 [email protected]@@ [email protected]:@[email protected] :[email protected]  @[email protected]
                   :0 [email protected]@  [email protected]@ [email protected]@: P:
                       vMB :@[email protected] :BO7
                           ,[email protected]


"It seems you like these little games... Why don't we play a real one?"

This is the python2 script to extract modified bytes from datamoshed volskaya screenshot, https://gist.github.com/synap5e/27635d2ff6f0e3b15f0c902dca2974a9

The ASCII image of the skull seemed to be a dead end, however, as no further progress was made until August 23rd.

Overwatch Forums Glitching Page/ "Skycoder"

A Discord user named 'Majesty' was tipped towards an ominous topic on the official Overwatch forums, posted by a user named 'Skycoder.'

The name of the topic, if translated from binary, says "23"; a reference to Sombra, who is the 23rd character in Overwatch. The time posted on the forums was set at 23h and has since been counting down rather than increasing; it seems to be a countdown to something.

This topic's page soon begins to glitch and distort, turning a hue of purple before opening a text box stating:

 "la que tiene la información; tiene el poder"

and typing another code:


ASCII Skull #2

The code was recognized to be Base64, which was then translated to a new ASCII image:

                      ,jBˆ@[email protected]@[email protected]                      
                   7G–B“B•[email protected]@[email protected]                   
               :kB’B.ˆ—MMOMOMOMOMMMMŒB˜[email protected],               
           :5‘B.B˜BˆBBMMOMOMOMOMOMOMMŠ’[email protected]           
        70n†•BˆB’B”BXBBOMOMOMOMOMOMMBMPB˜Bˆ[email protected]@[email protected]        
      G˜–—BJ iBˆB‡ˆ  OBMOMOMOMOMOMOM–2  [email protected] [email protected]@S      
      ’–BM‡GJBU.  iSuBˆOMOMOMOMOMOMM—OU1:  .kBLMˆM†B—      
      BŒMMB™B       7ˆBBMMOMOMOMOMOBB–:       B‡BMMˆB      
      .˜ˆBŠB         7’–@[email protected]@:         @@[email protected]@      
      .’OLB.          BNB.MMOMOMM.BEB          rBjM„B      
      [email protected]  @           M  [email protected]  M          [email protected]  @@      
      „•OvB           B:uŒMMOMOMMBJiB          [email protected]      
      „B‘B˜J         0‘B—MMOMOMOMB•[email protected]         [email protected]@@[email protected]      
      B„MBBŒv       G.‹BMMMMMMMMMMMBBˆ5       F„[email protected]      
      B˜–„BM  BmB„B  qBMOMB.B…B„BMOMBL  [email protected]@B  @[email protected]@M      
       J–m†„PB.B„B™B7GˆOMBB.   ,@[email protected]@[email protected]@@[email protected]       
          iGB•,i0„M–BnMMO‹E  :  [email protected]@@@[email protected]@@N:          
             .   B—[email protected]@[email protected]@[email protected]@@[email protected]                 
                 @[email protected]@[email protected]@[email protected]@[email protected]::[email protected]@                 
                 [email protected]@@ [email protected]:@[email protected] :[email protected]  @[email protected]                 
                   :0 [email protected]@  [email protected]@ [email protected]@: P:                   
                       vMB :@[email protected] :BO7                       
                           ,[email protected]                            

After some cleanup, taking the difference between ASCII skulls #1 and #2 yielded these hex characters:

8F 88 96 93 95 92 90 88 97 8C 98 91 8D 98 88 8A
92 6E 6E 6E 86 95 88 92 94 98 88 98 96 97 88 87
88 96 8F 92 96 87 88 97 88 86 97 8C 99 88 96 87
88 8D 98 88 8A 92 96 8F 92 8F 8F 84 90 84 95 8C
84 91 98 91 97 95 84 8C 8F 8B 88 84 87 7F 85 8F
83 8A 87 84 98 96 84 6D 84 90 85 84 96 6D 86 84
8F 84 99 88 95 84 96 6E 8B 97 90 8F

By subtracting from each character (67 for ASCII, 64 for Symbols, Z loops from 0x40), we got:


When running a Caesar Cipher and shifting by 22, the resulting string was:


This translates to:

Les prometi un juego...creo que ustedes los Detectives de Juegos lo llamarían un trailhead? BLZGDUSA-AMBAS-CALAVERAS.HTML
I promised you a game...I believe you Game Detectives would call it a trailhead? BLZGDAUSA-AMBAS-CALAVERAS.HTML


With that said, you may also notice "BLZGDAUSA-AMBAS-CALVERAS.HTML" is familiar looking. It was assumed there is a page on their CDN that contained more information, in the Skull Video section, you can see that it was true.

Skull Video

BLZGDA is Blizzard's server for hosting media, using full URL we get:


This link leads to a video which clearly shows an image of a skull, along with a dossier of info:


In the video properties you can find:

Parecen estar muy interesados en estos "héroes". ¿Tal vez les interese conocer algunos detallitos que he averiguado sobre ellos?
You seem to be very interested in these "heroes". Maybe interested to know some details that I found out about them?

There is also a heartbeat monitor in the video - by looking at which lines it "pings" on, and by assigning letters to these lines, we get:


amomentincrime E-mail

'momentincrime' appeared to refer to the Roadhog and Junkrat video A Moment in Crime, which came out months before the release of Overwatch. A site: amomentincrime.com was also found, where you can find information about configuration made to automatic mail response:

...Estableciendo conexión...
...Protocolo Sombra v1.3 iniciado...

...Infiltrando la respuesta automática del email de pistas...

...Terminando conexión...

Majesty and Crauss immediately discovered that sending an e-mail to [email protected] resulted in an automated response via email:

Thank you for contacting A Moment in Crime's anonymous crime line!

We have analyzed your submission and forwarded the information to the relevant parties. Your help could be vital in apprehending these cri

...Estableciendo conexión...
...Protocolo Sombra v1.7 iniciado...

01:07:47 02:02:02 01:08:06 02:13:43 01:18:32
01:18:21 02:10:19 01:06:21 02:05:18 01:04:02
01:07:08 02:18:25 01:13:04 02:19:20 01:23:02
01:16:40 02:16:35 01:23:04 02:17:16 01:06:42
01:13:29 02:18:06 01:05:02 02:15:41 01:08:34

j.7F57O,NLv:qj.7B:,[email protected]:,

...Terminando conexión...

minals and bringing them to justice. These fugitives are responsible for a string of robberies, arson, and other crimes stretching from Sydney to  King's Row.
Authorities believe that they have set their sights on crossing the Atlantic to America.

If the timestamp-looking numbers are taken as AA:BB:CC, where AA is the number of skull, BB is the row and CC is the column (as illustrated here), the 5x5 table would look like this:

S j G B L 
. @ M O k 
i , v : 0 
E 7 r q N 
J P 5 F 1

(although, note that these symbols are the same in both skulls).

If this is used as the key for the Bifid cipher for the string below the table:

j  .  7  F  5  7  O  ,  N  L  v  :  q  j  .  7  B  :  ,  1  q  v  @  B  1  j  5  i  v  B  :  ,
12 21 42 54 53 42 24 32 45 15 33 34 44 12 21 43 14 34 32 55 44 33 22 14 55 12 53 31 33 14 34 32

1 2 2 1 4 2 5 4 5 3 4 2 2 4 3 2 4 5 1 5 3 3 3 4 4 4 1 2 2 1 4 2
1 4 3 4 3 2 5 5 4 4 3 3 2 2 1 4 5 5 1 2 5 3 3 1 3 3 1 4 3 4 3 2

11 24 23 14 43 22 55 45 54 34 43 23 22 42 31 24 45 55 11 52 35 33 33 41 43 43 11 24 23 14 43 22
[email protected]:[email protected]@

This phrase is leet-speak, when translated, it becomes

Sombra Information is power Sombra

Datamosh of Reaper

Seen on the forum post by Skycoder, during the destruction of the website itself, you can see an image fly around on the page. This image is an image of Reaper on Temple of Anubis. It is quite similar in appearance to the image sent by Muselk on Twitter as a message to Sombra, but it does appear to have minor differences.

The problem arising with this clue is that all forms of the image sent to Blizzard are compressed. The apparent original from Imgur, then a rehost by Muselk on Twitter. Imgur compresses images, along with Twitter, which destroys the original message and gives us a lot of roads to take to solve this.

Some people think Blizzard may have joked with us, that the image itself on their website is compressed to poke fun at us. But it's still potentially something.


Temporary resources

A repo of tools and resources made by the Game Detectives Discord community for use in the Sombra ARG.


ASCII Skull Analysis: https://github.com/bahamas10/sombra

Removing [email protected] Analysis: http://pastebin.com/15u27YTC

ASCII Skull Eye Analysys: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1-JQpWyitMKYhP-4l8ZDFiJI3NjqRrvoEnRdFQawike8

Google Docs

Observations and Speculations Spreadsheet: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1rI08baFQmAwaqHC-9GF9VNGCYjuRE-q4LN9k4ottjuQ/pubhtml

Tracer Code

GOL! Guesser: http://axxim.net/ow/gol-guesser/

Bruteforcing tool: https://github.com/glv2/bruteforce-salted-openssl

Old / False Leads

Click here for all of the false leads that the community came across while trying to solve the Sombra ARG!

Media Appearances

3rd Aug. 2016

[EN] Kotaku - Overwatch Fans Find New Clues About The Mysterious Hero Sombra

[EN] Polygon - Overwatch fans are trying to crack the latest mystery about Sombra

[EN] PCGamesN - Overwatch's Sombra ARG continues with new clues, but no solutions

[EN] Team-Dignitas - Who is Sombra? All facts and clues about Sombra


[EN] FollowNews - Overwatch Fans Find New Clues About The Mysterious Hero Sombra

4th Aug. 2016

[EN] PCGamer - Overwatch Summer Games trailer hides a mysterious secret

[SK] Sector - Nové Overwatch video obsahuje ďalšie tajomstvá

[EN] Techinsider - 'Overwatch' players are going to insane lengths to solve a mystery that Blizzard's teased for months

[EN] Gamerant - Overwatch Players Uncover More ‘Sombra’ Clues

[HU] Gamestar - Overwatch - újabb nyomok utalnak a még be nem jelentett hősre

5th Aug. 2016

[EN] Kotaku - Days Later, Overwatch Fans Can't Figure Out The 'Sky Code' Mystery

[NL] Gamersnet - Cryptische speurtocht naar Overwatch' nieuwe heldin Sombra gaat bizar diep

[ES] Alfa Beta Jeuga - Overwatch: El enigma de Sombra sigue ofreciendo nuevos detalles

[EN] IGN (Video) - Sombra: Overwatch's Secret New Hero - Overwatch HQ

7th Aug. 2016

[EN] Gamespresso - Summary of the state of sombra's ARG in Overwatch

8th Aug. 2016

[EN/CN] Zhentoo - Overwatch new hero Secret Dorado hidden mystery

[EN] TechNewsToday - Overwatch: Sombra Continues to Elude Detectives

11th Aug. 2016

[EN] The Know - New Overwatch Hero Hints

12th Aug. 2016

[EN] Kotaku - Overwatch Fans' Sombra Investigation Reaps A Skull Code