Neven Mrgan and James Moore's Blackbar has a very inventive premise.
In the game, you receive letters from your gal pal Kenty. However, the message has gone through the department of communications, and key words have been redacted.
So, you've got to figure out what words have been censored, to find out what your friend's saying, and advance the plot.
You can often figure out what words have been blacked out by the context of the sentence or the content of the letter. But if you get stuck, there are no hints or cheats.
So allow us to step here. Here's every letter from Blackbar, with the redacted words in bold. Watch out for spoilers, and only use this walkthrough if you get really really stuck.
(Note: Please excuse the bizarre and ancient iPod touch image. Pocket Gamer's image server has gone up the swanny)
I finally got a spare minute to write to you like I promised I would. Phew, moving to the big city was a LOT of work. Everything went well, though–can't complain. I'll have time to write a bit more after my job training etc. is over. Oh, just so you know, all my messages have to go through the Department of Communication first, so some of my writing may be censored.
I think I'm finally fully unpacked and ready to start my first Real Job! Exciting! Ok, so let me tell you a bit about where I'm living right now. It's a studio apartment, provided by the Department. It's not too far from work. The place is small but charming, as they say. These old buildings have so much character! Bookshelves on every wall, lots of hidden closets and cupboards and built-ins. Very "efficient". That said, the truth is, I'll probably be spending most of my time in the office. I want to make a good first impression–teacher's pet and all that.
Thanks for your letter. Unfortunately, the bit about my mom got censored. No worries, I'm sure I'll find out what it was somehow.
I got my uniform today! It's nothing you haven't seen before, but still, wearing it makes this job feel much more real. Next time you see me, make sure you salute me! As for when that "next time" will be, I think my first vacation will be in early May or so.
Guess what–the thing you wrote about mom didn't make it through… again. I'm sure it's not THAT important, but whatever it is, it's against the Department Code, so don't bother writing it again. Thanks for trying, though! Haha.
Ooof, Maybe you were right and I was wrong to take this job, haha. (Just kidding!)
I thought I was plenty prepared for it, but even the first day of training was quite challenging. We must've spent 12 hours in the classroom, and that's just day one. I just have to keep in mind that it pays well.
So, I was just thinking, isn't it ironic how now, it'll be my job to sort of do the same to people? Ha!
So, he said mom was doing better than expected, but still. I really wish she'd gone to the Neighorhood Hospital. Mr. Cellun said she specifically asked for a nonprofit-charity-whatever doctor. Knowing that makes me feel like shit, because I know she did it to save money. You know, so she could send it to me, most likely. Her only daughter, alone in the big city for the first time.
Anyway, the best I can do now is focus on my job with the Department and try to see if I can send HER money instead. She'll need it… Thank you for checking in on her. Sorry I can't be there with all of you.
I'll see if I can do something from here. At the very least, I'll take some time off to come down and see mom.
It's late and I'm writing to you when I probably shouldn't be. I haven't felt this alone in a while. Part of it is moving to the City, part of it is all this stuff with my mom, of course. I was thinking earlier, when I lost dad… you were all there to help me. But if something bad happens now – I guess what I mean is, something worse than an aneurism – there's no one around I can talk to, not in person. I think my job assignment and my moving here and everything, it landed at the worst time. Plus, I'm getting this feeling at work that I won't be able to come home soon.
So, in some stupid way, and as disrespectful as this may sound, right now I blame the department for everything.
DO yOU kNOw tHE differEnCe bETWeeN A PROBLEM aNd a GAME? QUiTe sIMPLe: a pRObLEM iS sOmethiNG yOu solve, ANd a game IS soMEThiNg YOu play.
I realize you're upset, and I appreciate that you're helping out at my mom's place, but there's no need to "worry" about me, and your letters really shouldn't say things like "I hate this whole arrangement" or "we should both just leave this place". I understand how you feel, but negative words like that will just get corrected, and we might both get in trouble for it. Ok?
Do You kNoW What A peN PAl rEaLLY is? A lOYal accOMPliCE wITH A pOWERfUL weapon IN THeir haND.
Great. On top of everything else, starting today my job title is no longer Department Listener, but assistant Department Listener. This will cut my pay in half. Thanks a ton.
deAR strAnGER aND FRIEnD, uH-oH. now tHEy KnOw mOre ThAN tHeY knEW beForE. now K. IS bEinG ReprImANded bY hEr coMmaNDiNg ofFiCER. now she iS bEiNG isSUed HeR FiRST wRItten WaRninG.
now, now–leT's nOt losE our nERVEs noR Our mARblEs nOr OUr cOOls.
now is ThE WintER of ouR dIscoNTeNt…
I'm sorry. I've been a damn fool. It's not your fault. My commanding officer is (hard to please, picky, tough) difficult. Can you forgive me? Please write back.
Home Sick Little birdie left her nest ‚ Despite her friend finch's protest (ARREST?)‚
Wild eagles scared her so she flew, Back to her finch friend in the zoo (PEW?)
Big Sister If you need a hand to hold‚ In order to do something bold (OLD?)‚
Make sure it's on a friendly arm‚ And not on one that means to harm (ALARM?)
I don't really care anymore, Vi. It's ridiculous–I mean, what's the big deal if I write something negative or playful or "bad" in a private letter to my best friend? If we were talking in person, I would say these things and no one but us would hear them, and there'd be no damage done. You can hear those words now anyway, no matter how much the Department censors my writing. If, for instance, I type "ass", you will hear "ass" in your head. It's just a silly "bad" word we both already know. All these swears and curses and "negative expressions"–putting them down doesn't change anything. It doesn't change that I actually feel them.
Look: fuck, shit, damn. And look, here I am again! After all those awful four-letter words, on this side of that sentence, here's the same old Kentery! 19 years old, A-grade student all her life, no recorded incidents ever, loyal worker, the meticulous and sharp-eared Listener #20471 of the glorious Communication Department's s-u-r-v-e-i-l-l-a-n-c-e unit (am I using up all your precious black tape, Dear censor?), mother in a coma, five-foot-two, alone, alone, typing bad words typey typey type and SO WHAT. I don't want any part of this anymore, I don't want to work for the Department, I don't want to spy on people. I just want to be me.
…mAdE gLoriOus summer By THiS dAuGHter Of KeNT.
I took your advice. I got out of the damn Department. I had help from a mutual acquaintance. That's all I can say right now.
That, and "balls". Ha!
STRagNe THNiG, lagnuAgE. The qUICkRE YUo USE It, THe tRueR TI Is. TEH pHonEiR It is, tHE PerTTIer iT is. teH simplRe tHe WODr, The stRaNegR ti Si tHTA We All uNDREStand It. ThE moER YOU REguALTE IT, tEH LEsS yuO cONRtol iT. StaRNGe thign, idNeED.
FrIEnd, Welcome! YOur reSiSTAnCe mAKe yoU HaPpy? happy you make resistance!
your welcome friend
k. may hAVe RUn INTo a bIt of trOUBLe. dON'T wOrRy; we NeEdn't MisS a BEAT. JuST KEep tHIs PART clOSe To your CHEST as yoU'LL neED it vEry SoON.
HUGS & kIsSEs,
I need you to go to the central Northwest channel, log in as a Board Member, and grab everything from the main box. We've managed to crack their channel password. It's "heart".
Q: IN WHAT MANNER IS A RAVEN SIMILAR TO A WRITING DESK? A: THEY ARE BOTH MURDEROUS INSTRUMENTS USED FOR SCRATCHING OUT UGLY THINGS WITH FURIOUS FLASHES OF black.
DO YOU GET IT? HA HA.
deAR FriENd, thingS ArE So topsy-turvy aLL of a sUddeN, aren'T tHEY? Don'T woRrY; This is alL aCcoRdInG TO PlAn. "sHe who is nEvER upside down, NEVER FEels the rUSh Of blood To HER head."
Thanks for your help. You did great. Sorry to leave it at that, but right now I'm distracted.
i saw mom yesterday, shortly after she passed. I'm happy she never woke up; there was nothing but pain for her on this side of consciousness. I wish I could have talked to her one last time. I wish our last conversation hadn't been about my job at the stupid department, about my naive, idiotic plans for a future I will now gladly never see.
I hope this won't cause any trouble for you. As for my own safety now that I've sent this message to you–a message sure to be seen as incendiary by the overseers, for aren't all messages?– I have long predicted that some day, I would become a target of what G. B. Shaw called "the ultimate form of censorship".
i love you
I may no longer have a choice, but you do. Whatever happens, never give up.
NOTE YOUR COMPLIANCE HERE: no