E For Everyone: Blackbox

Why should you play “Blackbox – think outside the box” (2016)? Because it finally gave the tired phrase ‘a game unlike any other’ something meaningful to do. This is a game specifically created for the technical abilities of an iPhone, but don’t stop reading. I, like you probably, am always hesitant to download a mobile game since hundreds of them are launched every week, and it’s really hard to be trusting enough to find one of the good ones that will respect you as a player. And it is more difficult to find one that doesn’t rely on the basic tap-swipe mechanics. That’s where “Blackbox” blows everything else out of the water. It describes itself as a “refreshingly oppressive puzzle app” — a very astute description, since “Blackbox” is a game where you solve challenges without touching the screen.

Mind blown yet? Not touching the screen was the only constraint “Blackbox” creator Ryan McLeod put on himself when making this game. “Just when I would begin to worry and think I was close to exhausting all ideas, I’d go on a run and come up with four more. Creative solutions abound around adversity,” McLeod wrote on MediumAnd adversity is exactly what this game guarantees to provide, as there are countless five-star reviews titled “love-hate relationship.”

The very mechanics are the puzzles themselves, so I can’t discuss them much or I’d spoil everything and take the fun out of it. But let’s just say that this game uses all the technology at an iPhone’s disposal, and that means all plugs, switches and sensors.

“Skills based in linear thinking, like engineering and math, A-to-B skills, are relatively straightforward to hone and sharpen. But skills based in creative, circuitous, outside-the-box thinking are far more nebulous and hard to readily improve,” McLeod wrote.

McLeod’s creative side is clearly visible in this app. The interface is a stunning minimalist landscape of colorful little round-edged cubes against a soothing black backdrop. The game features lovely, smooth animations and a playful, clever sense of humor. Considering the brilliance of the atmosphere and the very concept alone, it’s hard to believe this app only took two years to make.

Additionally, you’ll be happy to hear, this game has zero ads. No annoying pop-ups you’ll accidentally click on, no 30-second videos to revive your character, nothing. The game makes its money solely from packs of new challenges, hints for those with enough rage to spend $0.99 on puzzle clues and the courage not to look them up illegally and donations to cover McLeod’s named expenses — coffee and burritos. The way this man respects the user is brilliant in a way rarely found on mobile, possibly one of the most money-grubbing game platforms ever. In short, his game teaches us that new, exciting, surprising genre-breakers can still be found after any amount of content has already been produced for it.

“Blackbox” is available for free on iPhones, iPads and iPod Touches with iOS 8.2 or later. But if you like this game, you’ll probably spend a good chunk of change just giving McLeod burritos out of love-hate.