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Black Future '88

Platform(s): PC
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Good Shepherd Entertainment
Developer: SuperScarySnakes
Release Date: 2018

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PC Preview - 'Black Future '88'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on Aug. 7, 2018 @ 12:30 a.m. PDT

Black Future '88 is a 2D roguelike action shooter. The neon-lit, retro-future style paints a dark alternate history of a world that's reeling from a nuclear cataclysm created by Duncan, the tower architect.

CD Projekt Red's Cyberpunk 2077 might have been the big-name cyberpunk game at E3 2018, but it was far from the only one. Black Future '88 is 11 numbers ahead — or 89 years behind. Set in an alternate postapocalyptic version of 1988, Black Future '88 follows players as they attempt to scale a giant, evil corporate tower and put an end to a malicious AI that threatens the entire world. It's not a complex story, and it isn't trying to be. It's just good old-fashioned explosions aplenty.

Many video games are a race against time in some form or another. Some have literal time limits. Some merely challenge you with the inevitability that enemies will provide death by a thousand cuts.  Black Future '88 has a far more interesting time limit. Your character has 18 minutes until your heart explodes. As such, time is a resource in the game. You can spend it for bonuses, and there are even a few rare ways to stave off your inevitable demise, but at the end of the day, you're not racing to save your life. You're racing to kill before you die.


The strict time limit also has another dangerous element to it that isn't instantly obvious. The tower itself also gets stronger based on the amount of uncollected loot you leave behind. A stronger tower has more dangerous enemies, but it also has potential for even better loot, so it's an interesting balancing game. Spending more time collecting loot can leave you scrimping for seconds later in the game, but speed-running through puts you at risk of facing the deadliest foes in the hardest segment.

The actual gameplay is somewhat familiar in the modern roguelike/shooter genre. It's 2D, but a lot of familiar traits are present. You can find bonuses, curses, secret items, upgrades, and various other things that encourage multiple playthroughs and ask you to mix up your strategies as you progress. There's also a bevy of ridiculous and amazing weapons. My personal favorite was a teleport gun that exchanged the place of the player and whoever they shot. It might sound complex, and it was, but it made it remarkably easy to get out of tight situations or force enemies into a corner.


One of the nice features of the game is that it is co-op. Players can go it alone or bring a friend along to take on the Tower of Doom. It's still a roguelike, and death has consequences. A defeated player can't just be brought back to life. Instead, their data is downloaded, and they can resume playing as a new character, the Drone, who isn't quite as powerful as the other characters but at least can keep helping you. Of course, Black Future '88 is a roguelike, and that means plenty of death for everyone involved, even in the best of situations.

We saw a bucketload of potential in Black Future '88. It has the same addictive "one more run" feel as games like Wizard of Legend and Binding of Isaac, combined with the solid, fast-paced shooting action of a game like Contra. Add in a neon hellscape fill with synth-inspired monsters, and it's easy to like.  Black Future '88 will be releasing sometime in 2018 for PC, with hopeful console ports later on.



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