Some smartphone games require little more than opposable thumbs and a pulse.
Others, like Blackbox, require so much wit and creativity that you’ll either end up feeling frustrated or incredibly proud of yourself.
Blackbox is a puzzle game for iPhone that’s rapidly climbing the App Store’s top free apps chart — and for good reason.
The app gives you small challenges that you have to complete by doing everything except touch the screen. Each challenge ends when you “turn on the lights,” meaning the small, brightly-coloured squares (called lights) change from empty to filled. To do this, you have to use your phone’s other sensors, features and functions to trigger the puzzle.
If that sounds confusing, it is, and Blackbox is hard — I mean really hard — but equally rewarding. Here’s how it works.
When you download Blackbox, you'll be greeted with a short (and sassy) walkthrough of the components of the app.
But those directions are mysterious, only providing the basics before launching you into your first puzzle.
In this puzzle, there are six lights to turn on. The game doesn't give you any directions on how to do that, simply urging you to 'Think outside the box,' which isn't particularly helpful -- unless you notice that the words are reversed, which means you need to flip your phone around until you hit all six lights.
The main thing to know about Blackbox is that most of the puzzles can't be solved with simple taps or swipes on the screen. Instead, the game uses actions you can complete using the sensors and features within your phone -- like changing the volume buttons, altering the screen brightness, plugging into the headphone jack -- to solve the puzzles.
After you complete your first puzzle, you'll be taken to your home screen, or grid. Here you can see all the puzzles you've solved and all those that are still unsolved or new.
Each puzzle is a different colour, so it's easy to see which ones you've completed (I solved the red, orange, yellow, and purple puzzles). It's incredibly satisfying to watch each light or set of lights fill up with colour.
The lights that are crossed off with grey stripes aren't available for you to play. They're either puzzles you need to pay for or new challenges that haven't been unlocked yet.
Right off the bat, you'll be offered hint credits. Take them -- you're definitely going to need them.
The only clue in this puzzle is that the dots float around and get bigger or smaller, depending on the amount of noise around you (don't worry, Blackbox asks to use your microphone first).