“Refreshingly Opressive”

That’s just one of the phrases the makers of Blackbox use to describe the clever iOS game. Indeed, the experience is frustrating as hell. But refreshing? Actually, yes. Just…extremely frustratingly refreshing.

In a nutshell, this game is about solving puzzles by using every function in your phone except the one you use the most: the touchscreen. That’s right, in order to solve the puzzles you’ll have to really get clever. Think you’re clever? Blackbox hopes to prove you wrong.

If there’s anything consistently enjoyable about the game, it’s the sarcastic tone in which Blackbox talks to the player via little pop-up boxes. It’s the kind of dry humor anyone who’s played Portal will quickly recognize. The tone grows increasingly diabolical, but always hides behind the sort of relaxed professionalism we’ve come to expect from virtual assistants.

That’s where the fun stops and the brain-hurt starts.

The puzzles are easy during the tutorials, but seem nearly impossible once the game stops holding your hand. You will discover a few that are fairly easy to figure out, but many challenges require odd actions to be solved. For example, you might have to log into the app and open a particular puzzle multiple times on completely different days. We don’t want to give anything away, so we won’t get more specific than that.

Rest assured, you’ll be doing some weird things with your iPhone to solve these puzzles. Blackbox even knows what iPhone model you’re using. In our tests, we got different variations of challenges depending on the features of the current device. Bravo, Blackbox.


We found most of this game to be a fun challenge, but the excitement wears off quickly on some of the puzzles where you know what you need to do but can’t do it at the moment. For these, we kind of just shrugged and stopped caring. All the same, we think everyone should play this game for the following reasons:

  • It’s free. You can buy clues if you get stuck, but isn’t that sort of like admitting defeat?
  • It demonstrates a level of creativity in iOS gaming that is truly unique and game-changing.
  • We want to know if you can do better than we did.
  • We want to know if you can find any of the secret levels.
  • Blackbox wants us to tell people to play the game. We’re afraid of disobeying! Get the game!
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