I am playing Mass Effect and I only seem to have about 10% success decrypting locks, even "Easy Decryption" locks. I can't figure out what I am doing wrong, or what I am doing differently when it works. The times that I fail I am hitting the button as fast as I can.

Is there some trick to knowing which button press is coming up?

  • 4
    sounds like you are playing on the console, so you should say which one since decrypting locks on the PC is different
    – l I
    Jan 21, 2013 at 16:26
  • @spartacus it is PS3. edited the question
    – Kip
    Jan 21, 2013 at 16:29
  • @kotekzot - Why did you remove the PS3 tag?
    – Cthos
    Jan 21, 2013 at 17:22
  • I rolled this back as the platform is relevant. (I've only played on the PC but my understanding is the same as spartacus, namely the minigame is VERY different on the console versions)
    – Shinrai
    Jan 21, 2013 at 17:33
  • 1
    How does ME1 decryption work? Three words: Whack-A-Mole.
    – Iszi
    Jan 21, 2013 at 23:34

4 Answers 4


Decrypting in Mass Effect is different on consoles in comparison to PC. I will cover the different variations and provide some gameplay videos on how each of the mechanics work below.

Consoles (Playstation 3 and XBox 360)

The visual 'feel' of decryption differs across the consoles but the underlying mechanic is the same. On the console versions of Mass Effect, when you attempt to decrypt you are presented with something similar to this:

also decrypting

Obviously this one is from the XBox version of the game (based on the button names). The object here is that as parts of the puzzle highlight, you have a small window of opportunity to press the corresponding button on the control pad (square, circle, triangle or cross for PS3). Pressing the wrong button will fail the challenge.

Depending on the difficulty you will be required to perform a sequence of between three and seven button presses.

Here is a quick video demonstrating this mechanic in action, the reaction time required is reasonably fast and I feel this is definitely less forgiving than the original PC release:


For the PC, decrypting presents you with a screen that looks like this:

decrypting on pc

This is a timed mini-game with the time remaining showing in the middle (in the instance of the above screenshot there are 12.10 seconds remaining on the timer) where you must get the arrow from the outer circle to the centre without hitting any of the blocks. The red blocks will rotate either clockwise or anticlockwise, each of the concentric circles can rotate independently of each other and hitting any of the blocks will throw your arrow back to the outer ring where you started.

This video shows the mechanic in action:

Getting to the centre circle will complete the decryption process.

  • FYI: Difficulty is between three and seven presses, at least on PS3.
    – Iszi
    Jan 21, 2013 at 19:56
  • I think the Wikia article is also wrong about that first screenshot. That is only on the PC version. As you note, the second image is what you see on the console.
    – Kip
    Jan 21, 2013 at 21:31
  • +1 to @Kip. I can verify the second screenshot (from Xbox) is pretty much identical to the PS3 - just replace Y/X/B/A with Triangle/Square/Circle/X. Process of elimination would suggest that the first screenshot is for the PC, unless the system was significantly changed on the consoles in a more recent update.
    – Iszi
    Jan 21, 2013 at 23:38
  • Any idea if increasing your Decryption skill will make decryption any easier?
    – Kip
    Jan 30, 2013 at 14:30
  • @kip No, it just allows you to try hacking higher level locks. Aug 9, 2021 at 9:11

I know this is late, but it might help someone out there. The difficulty I had with the mini game on the PS3 was actually the TV. My TV had all the cool features to ensure a smooth screen. When I turned them off and put the TV in "Game" mode, the mini game was much easier. Without it, the TV delays the picture a bit to ensure a smooth feed to the screen. This made it impossible to solve.

  • This was just happening to me last night and driving me nuts... so glad I found your answer, solved it straight away. Thanks!
    – JVC
    Apr 10, 2017 at 15:53

(PS3 Version) After many many reloads I realized that I was being lulled into underperformance by an almost hypnotic effect. The issue was that during the LOAD screen, there is an animation and rhythmic sound from the Citadel. Without realizing it, this rhythmic pulse lulled me into a certain reaction pace; a reaction pace that was simply too slow to do even the easiest decryption. So I began to tap my foot about 30 to 60% faster than this pace, and once I resolved myself to react at this higher pace, I began to have success at, at least, the easiest decryption level. (I also modified a setting on my TV that smoothed 24 fps animations into 30 fps animations, though it did not call this "game mode")


google:mass effect decrypting ps3 http://answers.ea.com/t5/Mass-Effect/ME1-PS3-version-decryption-minigames-way-too-fast-possibly/td-p/256208 http://social.bioware.com/forum/Mass-Effect/Mass-Effect-General-Discussion-NO-SPOILERS-ALLOWED/ME1-PS3-decryption-mini-game-impossible-to-get-right-15226304-1.htm

Yes the ps3 version is bugged. The same problem happened to me. The suggested work arounds are:

  • try setting your tv to game mode (Did not work for me)
  • lower the resolution (I have not tried)
  • This is a very kid friendly board so please keep your language bland and easy to understand.
    – StarPilot
    Mar 14, 2013 at 17:56

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