App review by
Ana Beltran, Common Sense Media
Blackbox App Poster Image
Solve tricky puzzles with device features; ads, purchases.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Kids will have to think outside the box to solve the puzzles. In addition to puzzle-solving skills, the game demands that kids practice some social emotional skills, such as pushing through challenges and moments of frustration without giving up. The app also forces kids to explore their device’s features and functions. 

Ease of Play

There are minimal directions except not to touch the screen when trying to solve the puzzles. Some hints are available for free and users can purchase additional hint credits. When kids are on the right track, little banners with encouraging words pop up to keep them on track. 


In-app purchases are necessary to unlock all puzzles and in order to add hint credits. Pop-ups constantly remind users of the features unlocked through in-app purchases. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Blackbox forces kids to think outside the box to solve a variety of puzzles without touching the device’s screen. It defines itself as a “game that redefines frustration.” There are no instructions or tutorials, other than the goal, which is to turn on all the square lights. After some struggle, a visual clue appears stating that the puzzles can be solved without touching the screen. Kids will have to figure out how to use the device’s functions to figure out each puzzle. There are minimal visual clues there are banners that pop up to tell kids they're on track to solving the puzzle or that they’ve done a good job. Kids will also be able to access hint cards when feeling stuck. There’s a set number of free hint credits and once kids use them up, in-app purchases are necessary to get more. Read the developer's privacy policy for details on how your (or your kids') information is collected, used, and shared and any choices you may have in the matter, and note that privacy policies and terms of service frequently change. 

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What's it about?

BLACKBOX is a game that offers a collection of puzzles. The game’s design forces users to use their device’s features in untraditional ways to solve each puzzle. Tapping, swiping, and touching the screen isn't required to play. Tapping and swiping is only necessary when choosing a puzzle, navigating to the home screen, browsing hint credits, or choosing in-app purchases that unlock other features and clues. Kids will use other parts of their device to navigate the games. Each puzzle will require kids to think of a different strategy, even though the purpose -- which is to turn on the lights -- may remain the same. The volume buttons, the device’s haptic sensors, and brightness control are just a few examples of what kids will need to use to solve the different puzzles. Minimal clues are embedded in the games. Motivational statements such as, “You’re getting the hang of this” or “This last one is definitely harder, there’s no shame in coming back to it later” will appear throughout. In addition to visual clues, the app also incorporates invitations to access hint credits. Blackbox starts kids off with a few hint credits, which can be used to unlock insight as to how the puzzles can be solved. Hints have different values; the least helpful hints are worth less credits, while the more helpful or multi-challenge hints are worth more credits. Once the introductory hint credits are used, an in-app purchase is necessary to access additional ones. Kids can also unlock hint credits by completing more and more challenges. Pop-up ads for other games and in-app purchases may appear while playing. 

Is it any good?

Challenging puzzles encourage kids to think outside the box create opportunities to practice pushing through challenges and moments of frustration. In order to avoid additional frustration while playing Blackbox, kids will need to have a basic understanding of their device’s functions. For example, they’ll need to recognize the brightness symbol and know where to find the brightness control on their device. The design of the puzzles is innovative and will have players racking their brain to figure out how to find a solution without touching the screen. Most puzzles are complex and the solution is far from obvious. This may stir feelings of frustration, but will also serve as an opportunity for kids to practice perseverance, patience, trial and error, and coming up with unconventional strategies. They’ll definitely have to think creatively to move beyond obstacles. Although the app’s display and the design of the puzzles is captivating, the constant reminder of in-app purchases for hint credit bundles could be distracting and contributes to a more commercial experience. Using hint credits is optional, but helpful and at times necessary. Only a few are available for free and can easily be used up before moving on to other puzzles. Overall, Blackbox is an interesting and innovative take on digital puzzles that's best for tweens, teens, or grown-ups looking for a challenge.  

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about their device’s features and functions and how to access them when playing Blackbox. Kids will need to use their device in unconventional ways in order to solve the puzzles. For example, instead of tapping and swiping, they’ll need to use the volume buttons, the brightness control, and other features.  

  • Talk about different strategies for working through challenges. The game definitely requires that kids think outside the box and may stir frustration. Strategies may include trying a different approach, coming back to it later, taking a deep breath, or asking for help. 

App details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love puzzles and critical thinking

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