Game developers are generally very nice people. They invite us gamers into a world they’ve made, exposing it to all the evils of the real world. Every once in a great while, I come across a game that brings me into a land that is much harder, more dangerous, and more puzzling than the land I came from. It’s no tiny feat for a game to cause me more anguish than my real life. Does that mean the devs are evil? Quite the opposite. They are in fact insane, maniacal, Czech geniuses. They took a relatively simple mechanic, that being switching the plane of gravity, and turned it into one of the most hardcore puzzle platformers I’ve ever seen. The puzzles are complex, the platforming is relatively tight, and every level seems to stump me until I’ve given it some thought with a good night’s sleep. I dream of BlackHole. FiolaSoft Studios has certainly picked a winner with BlackHole, Let’s discuss what exactly makes it so good.
The first thing you will likely notice is the voice-acting. It’s quite obvious they didn’t use amateurs here and the results shine through, though some might consider the cutscenes rather long at about 5 minutes per, I found that the humor and quality of the voice-acting kept me engaged throughout. The art style is decent as well, and gives you a really good idea of what’s what when you’re wandering on an alien planet, which is pretty important. Finally, the music pulls the entire aesthetic together with a set of eerie tunes that truly gives you an otherworldly feel. As you hop on gravity pads to change which direction is down the flora and fauna, along with the music, will constantly remind you just how far away from home you are. Your only companion is the ship’s AI named Auriel. Once the ship crashed she transferred herself to a PDA, so you can have a lady on your hip at all times! Though she does start out sort of mean, eventually her prankster personality started to really grow on me.
After the cutscene, you will be able to go from the overworld map into an actual level. You will probably scoff at the first one you see. As you collect the two selfburn elements needed to repair the ship, you might think to yourself “This doesn’t seem so hardcore.” Within 3 more levels you will be eating your words. Only one selfburn is required to “pass” a level. If you collect all the selfburns, the level will be considered “complete”. It will also display a high score for the fastest completion of the level. If collecting elements was all you had to do to complete the level, it would be relatively easy to find a way to stomp through each one. However, the game designers made the enthralling yet sadistic choice to force you to find your way back to the start without dying. Sometimes gravity will leave you stranded on an obstacle and you will be forced to commit suicide. It’s all part of the learning experience.
Blackhole is an amazing game, with tons of puzzles sure to wrack your brain, but there are some less-than-stellar points that should be noted. The controls feel a bit sticky, and make getting to some places a real challenge. There is also quite a lack of mobility considering the platforming elements to this game. There aren’t many options for replayability (if you even make it through the first playthrough). Finally, the fun factor was knocked down a few points due to the sheer frustration I feel when getting stumped in this game. Completing any puzzle gives a great rush of endorphins though, simply because of how hard you struggled to achieve completion. I’m sure I will find myself coming back to this game multiple times in the future, not only to practice my puzzle skills on a master-level game, but also to keep my ego at it’s properly deflated size. Thanks so much for sharing this game with us FiolaSoft! I hope to see more very soon.
- Controls- 7/10
- Fun Factor- 6/10
- Difficulty- 10/10
- Replayability- 3/10
- Innovation- 9/10
- Graphics- 7/10
- Music- 8/10
- Sound FX- 9/10
- Story/Lore- 6/10
- Level Design- 6/10
Final Score: 70/100 for innovation, voice-acting, and difficulty.
Summary: Innovative gravity-based puzzle platformer. Fantastic voice-acting!
BLACKHOLE was released on Steam Feb. 27th 2015.
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