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 up and take note of a new game on iOS. black bar(Opens in a new window) is a challenging and addictive word game where you must decipher letters sent by an old friend after they have been censored by the devious Department of Communications. If that sounds uninteresting, rest assured that it’s actually quite a challenge.

The story takes place when you receive your first letter from Kenty after she takes a job in the city. Kenty is training to become an agent in the Department of Communication, a necessary component of any authoritarian state that exists to censor people’s communication. In most letters you receive from Kenty, there are one or more redacted words. You must fill in the blanks to get the whole story and continue to the next page. It’s like madlibs, but you can only fill in the blanks with the kind of disturbing stuff the Department is trying to weed out.

Each blank has a number of spaces. Using this, along with the context clues, you should be able to figure out what Kenty is saying. Shortly after the letters start coming in, you start getting a completely different type of statement – Kenty is in trouble, but she doesn’t know it yet. The shadowy 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’s not even a menu or instructions. It’s just you and the enigmatic pages of text, describing a depressing world and a heartbreaking story. It’s also very well written.

Blackbar costs $2.99, but it’s not the length of a novel. You can probably beat the game in an afternoon, but it’s going to be an awesome afternoon.

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