“A future worth dying for over and over again.”
Black Future ’88 is a roguelike action shooter and platformer developed by SUPERSCARYSNAKES and published by Good Shepherd Entertainment & Surefire.Games. Right off the bat, the world and style of Black future ’88 is one of its most appealing features. The premise itself is simple, a great hook and a great way to explain why 1988 has remained way into the future. The graphics and music are excellent; I never felt like either got old over the course of my playtime. The visuals are designed with pixel art and it’s well done to the point where every object in the world is identifiable. The only thing I might say is some of the strobe effects were a little straining at times, but otherwise the artistic and stylistic choices worked well.
The gameplay loop is the big draw here. Shoot down the assortment of various enemies until able to proceed to the next room. Find upgrades through new guns, abilities, or stims to help eliminate threats as the player climbs through the tower. Each boss is varied while providing a fun and challenging experience, but can be disposed of easily with the right weapons and upgrades in tow. Dying will send you to a scoreboard where you rack up points and experience to level up and earn unlocks to be acquired in future runs. Speaking of unlocks, there are a total of 5 characters, with 2 that the player will have access to right away. Each character is different enough in abilities and starting gear to distinguish them from each other and provide a new way to climb Skymelt Tower.
One of the more interesting mechanics of Black Future ’88 is Skymelt Tower. As you reside within the tower, Skymelt will proceed to absorb weapons that are left behind and start to stack modifiers against the player. Further, each run starts with eighteen minutes on the clock. This time limit can be extended (or depleted) by various means, either with abilities or by pickups. The player will want to focus on reaching the top of the tower and beating its final boss as quickly as possible to avoid the stacking negative modifiers and the ultimate time limit running out.
On the technical side, Black Future ’88 was mostly a positive experience. This may not be a problem for most people but in my time spent in the game it crashed and quit out after a run three different times. This was unfortunate, but luckily load times in this game are fast enough to where the crashes, while a bit of a nuisance, didn’t hinder things too much. Another positive thing I can say is that controller support worked well as my Dualshock controller made the game play smooth and everything felt responsive to inputs.
Overall, Black Future ’88 is a game I can see myself returning to. The strong post-apocalyptic 80’s theme is attractive, the gameplay loop is fun and engaging, and it’s just a great game to play. Black Future ’88 is a game I’m proud to own, and one I’ll definitely be talking about when people ask for game recommendations.