Tuesday, March 1, 2016

IOS Review #113: Blackbox

Title: Blackbox
Developer: Ryan McLeod
Platforms: iPhone
Price: Free
While a lot of games on mobile try to replicate more control schemes with digital d-pads and buttons and virtual steering wheels and so on, others go the opposite route, using the tactile nature and portability of mobile devices to great effect. The Room, Shadowmatic, and Monument Valley let you play with, push, twist objects. Zombies, Run! tracks you location through GPS. Device 6 had you rotating your device to follow the twists and turns of its word-corridors. And now, the enigmatic puzzler Blackbox presents you with conundrums that could only be done on a mobile device.
At first glance, Blackbox is quite unassuming, with a sparse black background and minimal assortment of colored squares acting as its main menu. But delve into the game's array of puzzles and Blackbox blossoms into something special. None of its 50+ puzzles are solved by interacting with the screen; instead you must use every other sensor and utility on the device to figure out solultions.

What that means is that your phone is quite literally transformed into a puzzle box. Solving a puzzle is an exercise in experimentation, rotating and turning your device, interacting with exterior various switches and buttons, using specific features like the camera, or even making noise into the microphone. Some puzzles may take multiple sessions to fully complete, or require you to return to the game at different times, or when your phone is in a certain state.
Like the best puzzlers, Blackbox is rife with those wonderful a-ha moments, as you realize what each challenge is asking of you and how you need to use that knowledge. It's challenging, unorthodox, and might be the best mobile game since Device 6 to blend the unique capabilities of the mobile device with gameplay.

Blackbox is free to download, with an optional $1.99 hard level pack available, and more levels to come in the future. If you're interested in learning more about Blackbox, the developer wrote an informative Medium post regarding the game's creation and future.

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