Blackhole brings a humorous puzzle platformer that introduces new features to its gameplay as you advance. One of the best details of this title is the fact that characters are part of constant spontaneous dialogues, which are pretty funny and aligned with the perspective of the game. Imagine a full crew of a spaceship that finds themselves trapped in space while trying to complete an important mission to save Earth. You will then become the only lasting “hero”, destined to save the rest of the team while relying on the ship’s artificial intelligence assistant. The mechanics of the game are set in a 2D structure, but includes quite a few options to literally turn things upside down. Stages are based on a platform that rotates depending on what action you decide to take. Your goal is to collect structures called selfburns capable of restoring the crew’s ship and advance to the next level.
Blackhole was developed by FiolaSoft Studio and is available for Xbox One for $14.99.
The story behind Blackhole is introduced in a very funny way when the spaceship’s coffee guy gets involved in a major adventure after getting sucked into a black hole along with his crewmates. Here is how everything starts:
A group of people travels on board of a spaceship called Endera to complete a very important mission to protect the Earth. Everything seems fine up until the moment where Endera crashes into an area that resembles the structure of a planet but is described as an unidentified object. After the accident, the ship’s coffee guy finds himself all alone. The only source of interaction at this point is Auriel, a very sassy A.I. assistant. Your new tech friend is filled with sarcastic comments and jokes that will make your adventure seem not so terrifying after all.
Teaming up with Auriel is the only option you have to save the rest of the crew while collecting special items that will help you restore the spaceship to its normal functioning state. Your mission also involves much bigger plans, as you must also work as hard as possible to close the black hole and save Earth.
The game puzzles become very complex as you move forward. In order to succeed, your character will need to explore the most challenging environments such as caves, forests and mysterious cities. The adventure takes place in multiple anti-gravity situations and it is important to use the best judgment in an efficient way to overcome traps and hazards on each level.
Blackhole's gameplay structure is put in a simple way. As the spaceship coffee guy and hero, you must bring together all the necessary components that will allow you to rebuild the ship, rescue the rest of the crew and escape safely the multidimensional “Entity” as soon as you can. During this journey, you will be able to accomplish each mission in a unique environment with lots of dangers to face.
The main recourse used to rebuild the Endera spacecraft are the so-called selfburns, which are organic nanostructures capable of doing some hard work for you. These pieces are an essential part of your plan to do the most important repair work of your life. From time to time, your will notice that the coffee guy will have to return to the ship and safely store some of the collected selfburns. That will allow you to check your progress and then figure out what else is still missing. Each game mission will give you the chance to find these special items.
In addition to that, each complete level will get you closer to discovering a little bit move about the Entity and its mysteries. Gradually, during the progress of the game, new obstacles will appear. For that reason, make sure to pay attention to all details on each map as the physical structure of stages play a fundamental role in the context of the game.
The long journey of Blackhole is filled with puzzles that will constantly test the player’s abilities. In fact, the game’s difficulty level can actually be very discouraging for players s who are not very experienced with these types of challenges. Because of that, I would say that if you are not really into logic puzzles, this is probably not a very good choice for you.
On the other hand, the basic controls are pretty simple and straight forward: walk to the right, left and jump. Overall mechanics reflect the general structure of a 2D platformer. However, the detail that makes the game more interesting is the ability to “play” with the gravity to rotate stages. This visual element is one of my favorite aspects of Blackhole, but also what it makes very difficult to defy. The way gravity works is simple to understand. Once you hit certain walls, the entire platform shifts around, changing the perspective of where you are standing on. At that point, players must use their intelligence to complete the level and gather items. Keep in mind that it is impossible to collect all the selfburns in a stage without having manage gravity properly and reach certain points on the map. It is a very smart game mechanic that makes Blackhole fun and challenging at the same time.
I must say that when playing Blackhole in its normal difficulty, I felt quite penalized for some mistakes I made. If you die within a stage after collecting some selfburn, you start the phase from zero, having to work hard to collect them again. Even though it is a logical structure, it can be very frustrating due to the difficulty found in most puzzles.
GRAPHICS AND AUDIO
The visual design of Blackhole's characters, maps and environments are very well created. The scenarios look really polished and stand out in its 2D style. Considering that we are talking about a rescue mission in space, there are plenty of visual elements that can enhance the experience of playing it. One great point about Blackhole it the fact that you will always find different environmental conditions and hazards on each level. For example, main obstacles such as lasers, lava and ice will take place on your journey at some point of the game. For that reason, I knew that I could always expect something different to show up and push myself to think harder when solving a puzzle.
Similarly, the soundtrack is excellent, and it mixes a nice range of audio themes that match the different climaxes in the story. One of my favorite audio details of Blackhole is being able to hear the progression of the tech sounds blended with the intensity of the music in the background. This is very noticeable when you find yourself in a critical point of the adventure. Finally, another creative element of Blackhole's story is its great sense of humor. The dialogues are very funny and fun for the most part. Auriel never misses the chance to bring some sarcastic jokes up, even when other characters find themselves in the most chaotic situations.
It's very important to note that Blackhole is a great game, filled with challenges and a fun storyline. However, it is probably not a good choice for the non-hardcore puzzle game audience. Puzzles can become very difficult and frustrating at several moments in the game. Even If you are very familiar with this game style, you might struggle to complete missions. The gravity element is definitely what adds that challenge to the game. Not only in terms of understanding what needs to be done, but also finding the correct way manage it. In addition to that, falling into a trap will lead you to start the mission all over again. This factor can be quite discouraging for casual or less skilled players. As mentioned earlier, the game does not get boring at any point. It is just hard to quickly advance if you are not prepared for a hardcore puzzle to solve. The good news is that these are all great challenges and will push you to use your intelligence in several difficult moments. Yes, Blackhole is an intense journey, but that is the very detail that makes it a great game to try out.
|+ Fun storyline, filled with humor.||– Hardcore gameplay can be intimidating|
|+ Beautiful 2D graphics and audio elements||– Requires a lot of patience to complete challenges|
|+ Creative puzzle challenges|
|+ Easy mechanics|