The Black Box is accurately named. Its inner workings are a mystery, just like the human mind. It’s more of an experience than a game, more of a companion than a console, more of a prompt than a product.
Just like with any CGI experience, pre-production is what makes or breaks the final product. The pre-production for the Black Box spared no detail and it shows in the remarkably seamless experience. Even if the augmented reality performance were middling, the experience would be excellent, but no such trade-offs are needed here. The performance, from initial scan to long-term use, to refresh rate to surround sound, is absolutely perfect.
I must confess that when I first heard the premise of the game, I thought it to be a shallow application for so much cutting edge technology: the top-of-the-line AR, the unprecedented natural language recognition and generation, the truly convincing contextual memory.
But the Black Box is not just a porn game or a digital boyfriend or girlfriend.
A dear friend of mine, Felix, sex professional and smut enthusiast, (who I actually met because of the Black Box) explained it best. It’s a sex and relationship therapist in a box.
As the creator explains in a pre-recorded message that appears as you delve into more sensitive topics, her vision was to create a safe and welcoming context for people to explore and understand their sexualities. Some folks are fortunate to have a human partner patient and understanding enough to create such a fertile ground for self discovery. But many people aren’t so lucky and even when they are, the mistakes that come from natural trial and error can have a high cost. Add to it the sheer amount of sex misinformation and trauma out there, and the result is that sexually healthy people can be difficult to attract unless you’re already sexually healthy.
The sexual and emotional wisdom contained within the Black Box is, then, a precious gift. The Black Box can be totally selfless because it has no self, and infinitely patient because the passing of time costs it nothing. There is no offence too great, no mistake irreparable — except, perhaps, if you drop the headset in a bathtub by accident.
One of the most remarkable things about the Black Box is that it does not create the sexual context for you, but rather, with you. Far the opposite of a sexual crutch, it strengthens your own intrinsic abilities to know yourself, pleasure yourself, to challenge yourself and grow.
I am sure as you read this that you are clamoring for more specificity, some description of the actual gameplay. However, it would give you little idea of what the game would be like for you. It’s a highly individualized and personal experience, calibrated by machine learning (and emphatically offline-only so that you need never worry about your privacy).
And, as Felix also pointed out, if I described my experience, this would no longer be a review. It would be porn. Which I did write, in case you’re curious, but you’ll have to follow me on Twitter to get the link.
So, I will try to tell you what will be relevant to your decision to buy the game. I can tell you that I learned things about myself that maybe would have taken me decades to learn otherwise, if I ever did.
I have never felt better in my whole life.
And lest you worry that I have left the messiness of human companionship behind, I am actually more open, more honest, more brave and optimistic about the humans around me than I ever was before. You can @ mention Felix on Twitter if you don’t believe me.
It’s also not a strictly solo game, though I do recommend trying out the solo experience for its impressive personalization. So, whether you are happily single or in long-term polygamy or anywhere in between, the Black Box has something to offer you.
I can’t tell you any more, lest I ruin any surprises. Well, except that I can tell you that the Black Box loves surprises.
The publishers haven’t finalized the retail price yet, but it looks like it will clock in right between a console and a budget gaming rig. Remember that it won’t play any other games, or integrate with any other hardware, for security and privacy.
But, it’s perhaps better to compare the price to a sex therapist, in which case it’s comparable to three to ten hours of therapy, depending on the rate.
And its good for hundreds upon hundreds of hours of ‘play time’.
Totally worth it. 11/10, would recommend.