Writing by Timothy Buck

Blox (iOS)

Blox (iOS)

Blox (Android)

Blox (Android)

Small Talk (iMessage)

Small Talk (iMessage)

Greenville (iMessage)

Greenville (iMessage)

Blackbox: My Favorite Puzzle Game

Blackbox: My Favorite Puzzle Game

Gaming—iPhone gaming in particular—is not part of my daily life. But I recently downloaded a puzzle game called Blackbox and was surprised to find it quite compelling. Blackbox is simultaneously sneaky, simple, delightful and infuriating. Dan Moren from SixColors was spot on when he called it "devilishly clever."

Purpose & Functionality

Blackbox was designed and developed by an indie developer named Ryan McLeod. He wanted to create a distinctive iOS game, so he built one that uses every sensor, port and button in strikingly unique ways. Blackbox challenges you to outsmart each puzzle without touching the screen. 

Like most good puzzle games, the solutions seem incredibly obvious once you know the answer, but without using hints (which you can buy for 99 cents), Blackbox's puzzles have been quite tricky for me.

Rating: simplicity, usefulness, beauty and necessity

  • Simplicity. (10/10) Blackbox is incredibly easy to navigate and begins with shrewd and funny introductory walkthrough.

  • Usefulness. (10/10) My favorite part of Blackbox is the "Ah hah!" moment. (I've caught myself saying it out loud on several occasions.) Blackbox isn't going to help you get more done at work, but each time you solve a puzzle, you'll begin to smile.

Blackbox iOS App Game Screenshots
  • Beauty. (10/10) The design is clean; the animations are fun; and the text is clever. The main screen is a grid, and as you puzzle out challenges, more will appear.
  • Necessity. (5/10) Games are rarely a necessity, but you can download it for free! Check it out.

  • Stickiness. (8/10) I find myself returning to Blackbox on a daily basis to solve new puzzles. That said, there are currently 50 puzzles (37 free and 13 as part of the “Erudite” Level Pack for $1.99), and once you've solved them, you can't really play them again. I hope Ryan will add more puzzle packs over time.

Alternatives

I don't know of any games quite like Blackbox, but if you’re interested in other thoughtfully-crafted iOS games, I’ve listed a few that I enjoy.

Day One 2 for Journaling on iOS and Mac: Reviewed

Day One 2 for Journaling on iOS and Mac: Reviewed

Encryption: The Backbone of the Digital Economy

Encryption: The Backbone of the Digital Economy