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Blackhole Review

Originally Fiolasoft Studio planned to develop a HD remaster of their previous game, PacIn: Revenge of Nermesssis. Unfortunately – or perhaps fortunately – the project didn’t quite work out, and so Blackhole, an unusual 2D indie platformer game, was born.

Based in the year 2121, you are assigned the role of “Coffee Guy” aboard a spaceship sent to neutralise black holes with a crew of six others under the command of a Captain and an overly condescending AI named Auriel.

Initially the mission is going fine, until the ship is somehow swallowed by one of the black holes in question. As the only obvious survivor, you must investigate the wreckage and collect nanobots called “selfburnsin order to restore the ship, along with the help of Auriel who is now handily loaded inside a PDA. It is up to you to solve each level, find the rest of the crew, collect the selfburns, and discover what really caused the ship to crash.

Blackhole contains six individual acts with your usual array of platforming environments, including cave, jungle and desert levels. Each different area also features its own set of puzzles or objects; the jungle, for example, includes trampolines and the desert includes pushable crates, but every act has special platforms that change gravity.

As a fairly unknown title released on Steam some months ago, I wasn’t sure what to expect from Blackhole. I needn’t have worried though; the game has plenty going for itself. First of all, the art style is not what I expected from a 2D platformer at all. It is much more intricately detailed than I imagined – perhaps steering itself away from old school platformers like Sonic the Hedgehog, or the more modern throwback of “retro” styled games like Volgarr the VikingBlackhole really highlights what platformers can achieve these days. From little details in your spacesuit, to careful and attractive obstacle and enemy design, Blackhole takes on a very cartoon-like appearance, but nevertheless manages to retain an all-round pleasant glow about it, giving it a real “spacey” feel.

Blackhole 2-min

The story of Blackhole initially seems very simple on the surface, though the further you proceed into the game, the more interesting the narrative gets. Every time you collect a “black box” (of which there are many), Auriel listens to the recording and remembers a little more of what’s happened, which inevitably becomes your main focus through the game. The intrigue of the suspicious recordings does an excellent job of drawing you in more and more, making you even more determined to get through each level in order to uncover the truth. For a 2D platform game, this level of storytelling is very rare and makes a refreshing change.

The controls are very simple – keyboard arrows to move, space bar to jump. This can be a little tricky at times, and leaves little room to explore each level properly. However, the basic mechanics leave room for more interesting gameplay, as the story and atmosphere become the main focus of the game. For players, it can mean not having to worry about what they are doing, and instead immerse themselves entirely into the game.

The music that accompanies each level of the game is a psychedelic journey through outer space. It subtly brings in very soft melodies, helping to create an expansive atmosphere for players to lose themselves in. At times it’s almost lullaby-esque – a stark contrast to the dark blues and greys of your surroundings. However, it really works as far as background music goes, adding another layer of immersion for people and a sense of calmness against a mildly eerie foreground.

Despite its simplicity, Blackhole is great fun. The gameplay offers plenty of entertainment, although the simple mechanics and repetitive level design mean it can get rather monotonous at times. That said, it’s a great idea that is executed very well through the general atmosphere and the careful details put into each level. Blackhole is perhaps not for the long haul, but is a game you can consistently keep coming back to when you need a break from an in-depth RPG.

Blackhole is available on PC.
After spending her childhood playing games with her Dad on the Sega MegaDrive, Holly - AKA 'Titch' - developed a lifelong passion for gaming which kickstarted her dream to write video game narratives, crush the social stigma of women in the gaming industry, and attempt to become the next Hunter S. Thompson. Nowadays you'll most likely find her deeply involved with a fantasy RPG on her PS4, or bothering her pets.