Blackbox – Game Review

Very few times will this blog feature mobile games, as there are just a handful of them that actually deserve our time. And without a doubt, Blackbox is one of them.

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Blackbox is an iOS game available for free, that challenges players to think outside the box to solve the 66 puzzles (most of which can be played at no cost) it includes. Those puzzles, represented by lights that players have to turn on, are challenging in a very innovative way, as they don’t present a set of rules. In fact, discovering those mechanics is the puzzle itself, every single time. Be prepared to play with every feature your phone has, as very rarely will touching your device’s screen help at all at your task.

The early puzzles are pretty easy to figure out, but as solving some challenges unlock new, more difficult ones, this game turns into a mind-boggling experience. The approach needed for each puzzle is very unique. It soon becomes an obsession. A frustrating one, at times, to be honest. But whenever you achieve to turn on a light that has had you stuck for days (maybe even weeks), the satisfaction is absolute. It is as rewarding as it is punishing.

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Progression has been carefully designed throughout the entire game. Puzzles are unlocked in a very specific pace in order not to overwhelm the player with tons of difficult challenges at once. In fact, the most difficult puzzles, called “meta”, are quite hard to even unlock!

However, there is a hint system available for struggling minds. These hints are as cleverly designed as the rest of the game, so they don’t just give the player a solution right away. Instead, an idea is provided that could give a direction in which to investigate, helping the player at his/her task instead of spoon-feeding the answers. Some hints can be obtained for free through progression, but hint packs are available for purchase too.

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Blackbox has a beautiful, and minimalistic design. Dark backgrounds and bright colours are used to illustrate the challenges, but the lack of visual cues makes it a very simple interface. Audio is used just in very specific occasions, too. Solving a puzzle or going back to the selection screen (a grid to proudly share your progression) give little sound effects, but the silence is prominent in the app, which adds to a more mysterious experience.

This is a totally different game. Delete all the knowledge you think you have about puzzle games, because this one will make you struggle anyways. You’ll love it, you’ll hate it. But that’s how it is supposed to be… That’s how good puzzle games make you feel. 9/10

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