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'Blackbar' is an iOS puzzler and a commentary on the NSA's love of redacted text

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If you've glossed over any of the documents released by the NSA of late, you've no doubt seen large swaths of text — sentences, paragraphs, and entire pages — redacted from public view. A new, text-based iOS game called Blackbar is an intelligent political statement on that secrecy. The player takes on the role of Vi, who is constantly receiving letters from her friend Kentry, a new hire at the "Department of Communications." Each message you receive from Kenty contains portions of blacked out text that you'll have to fill in to keep progressing through the game. These missing words, names, and dates are hidden because they're "violations of department code" according to the game.

Figuring out what goes where is simple enough at the start, but before long you're likely to run in to some head scratchers. And if you do get stuck, there are no hints free assists to help you through. Neven Mrgan and James Moore have built a game that doesn't hold your hand, but that's likely to be a plus for some players. We won't spoil anything; just know that paying attention to a letter's context and events in the overall story arch are critical to keep moving forward. It's just too bad uncovering what's really in those NSA documents isn't this easy. Blackbar is $2.99 in the App Store and is available now.