Blackbar is a fascinating sci-fi word puzzle for iPhone and iPad

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Fans of dystopian sci-fi tales will want to sit down and take note of a new game on iOS. Blackbar is a complex and addicting word game where you have to decipher letters sent by an old friend after they have been censored by the devious Department of Communication. If that sounds uninteresting, rest assured that it is actually quite a challenge.

The story takes place when you receive your first letter from Kenty after she accepts a job in town. Kenty is in training to become an agent of the Department of Communication, a necessary component of any authoritarian state that exists to censor the communication of the people. Most letters you receive from Kenty have one or more redacted words. You have to fill in the blanks to get the whole story and go to the next page. It’s like madlibs, but you can only fill in the blanks with the kind of unsettling talk the department is trying to eliminate.

Each blank has a number of spaces. Using that, along with the contextual clues, you should be able to understand what Kenty is saying. Soon after the letters start coming in, you start getting a whole different type of news release – Kenty is in trouble, but she doesn’t know it yet. The obscure group sending you messages seems to have found a way around the censors. Will you be able to help your friend? You will have to be smart to solve all the puzzles and find out.

Blackbar is not your standard iOS game. In fact, as Blackbar points out, a game is something you play and a problem is something you solve. There are no fancy graphics and no cinematic music. There isn’t even a menu or instructions. It’s just you and the cryptic pages of text, describing a depressing world and a heartbreaking story. It is also very well written.

Blackbar costs $ 2.99, but it’s not a novel. You can probably beat the game in an afternoon, but it’ll be a great afternoon.

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