Blackholeby Aethyna Sep 20, 2017 | 1 Votes | 1 Played | 0 Reviews 9 rate When the last black hole-closing mission went awry, you find yourself stranded on an alien-looking place where gravity seems to be incredibly flexible... alone. With Auriel, the spaceship’s AI in tow, you set off to find out what happened to the rest of your crew and hopefully find a way to fix the ship and return home to Earth. Play Now Similar Games Played
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Blackhole is an impressive hardcore 2D puzzle-platformer that aims to not only stump you at every turn but also to blow your mind with incredible graphics, mechanics and music. The game is very humorous as well, which admittedly seem to be in contrast to the very challenging and mind-boggling nature of its gameplay. And of course, who could forget the funny dialogues, host of quirky characters and the original storyline that surprisingly may make you learn a thing or two about blackholes. So, if really hard and punishing 2D puzzle-platformers are kind of your thing, you might want to try Blackhole out. It will definitely astound you!
Captain Jetsen and his crew are tasked to close the last black hole that is threatening Earth in his trusty spaceship, Endera, and his ship AI, Auriel. However, things went horribly wrong and they ended up getting sucked into the very same black hole they were supposed to close and crash landed on somewhere alien where apparently the tech on the ship and the black hole has created an entity in which you’ll be running and jumping in.
Thought you’ll be playing as the super-cool Captain Jetsen? Well... think again - You’ll be playing as his coffee guy instead! The storyline in this game is incredibly humorous. In fact, the game is funny straight from the get-go. It opted to use “Press almost any button to start” rather than the usual “Press any button to start” which is a really tongue-in-cheek (and classic) joke that many gamers can relate to. Even the loading screens are funny! So, even if you’re not really a hardcore platformer, you might still be interested enough to play the game just for the storyline.
To begin your adventure, you’ll first need to customize your gameplay by choosing a game mode. There are 2 game modes in this game, namely the original hardcore gameplay – Classic; or the supposedly-much easier version, Adventure. Players can also choose between 3 different story modes, ranging from full story to minimal story, to cater to those who only want to enjoy the puzzles without having to go through tons of dialogues, or to those who enjoys a good and funny story alongside a fun and challenging gameplay.
Regardless of what you choose, you’ll soon find yourself on board a spaceship where you’ve been asked to bring your captain his cup of joe. Although this is basically a short tutorial that aims to teach you the barest of basics, like how to move your character, I really enjoy the little nuances that the game adds into this part of the game. For instance, while you’re carrying your cup of coffee, you can’t jump or the coffee will be spilled – there’ll even be a stain on the wall – and you have to brew up a fresh cup.
I’d like to also point out that I really like the way the tutorial is presented in this game. Instead of putting its instructions in text-form or even verbally, the game simply show you what to do by using a shadow form of your character. There are even keyboard keys above the shadow’s head, showing you which keys to press and when. It’s frankly an intuitive and an ingenious way to teach players how to play the game.
That said, the controls for this puzzle-platforming game is very simple to grasp but can be insanely hard to master as you’ll see when you actually start playing the many puzzle levels in the game. You can move left and right – it’s a 2D game – and you can jump using the spacebar. However, you can’t do double jumps or wall jumps, which makes their puzzles so much more difficult to solve.
Now, Blackhole itself has a vast world for you to explore and this world is the world you’ll be dropped into when the spaceship crashed. The world isn’t exactly an open one, but it is pretty huge. You can easily see this simply by pressing tab to open up the Map mode so you can see the whole world... well, at least the part you’re in.... better. The map also marks out important POIs (points of interest), which is a really nice touch considering that how the game can somewhat make you disoriented.
What’s really interesting though is that although the world itself is a huge puzzle in of its own, the world also provides multiple portals which you can unlock in sequence. These portals are the gateway to instanced, individual puzzle levels where you will need to collect a rare but incredibly useful mineral called “selfburnium”. These minerals are somewhat like the “stars” you’d collect in a casual puzzle game – it’s important to get as many of them as you can just so you can have enough to unlock a new area of the world and hence, a whole new smattering of puzzles.
Thankfully, you just need to collect 1 selfburnium to unlock the next puzzle level because these puzzles can be HARD... all capitals intended. The levels are incredibly well-designed that after the first few levels, it may take attempt after attempt just so you can satisfy that “perfectionist” carving of yours to collect all the selfburnium in a single level. Oh, and depending on the game mode you chose, you might even need to get them all in one go!
The puzzles aren’t only hard because of its amazing level design; they are hard because they contain some really impressive game mechanics. One of the main mechanisms is definitely gravity-switching. There are usually patches of super-strong magnetic fields in a level that will blow your mind when the whole puzzle gets turned right on its head! There are also huge pools of water, which interestingly can bounce you right back up if you jump into it at a sufficiently great height; sheets of very skiddy ice (watch your momentum there); squares of super-hot lava and many more.
Each of these mechanism is designed to amp up the challenge to a whole new level and to keep you on the very edge of your seat as you try to nail that particularly hard jump. So, in a way, your reflexes are crucial to being good at the game as well.
Due to its difficulty, the game does try to help you along with some tiny hints like the exclamation mark which generally tells you which surface you should be standing on. There is also a navigation key that you can use to find your way around if you happen to get lost. However, take note that you can actually pan the camera around so you can see the level better. This was unfortunately not taught in any of the tutorials and considering how important this is, it’s just a bit disappointing that the developers have missed out this little but significant point.
Being a hardcore game, dying from a wide variety of ways in this game is a pretty common scene. If you die, you’ll have to start the whole level again... this also means that whatever selfburnium you’ve collected will be reset. Thus, if you’re playing on Adventure mode, it’s best to simply get the easiest first selfburnium and end the level to save your progress, before returning to it again to try getting the other minerals. You can also move on to the next puzzles first if you’d like and return to the older ones via the game’s nifty teleport function later on. There is even a replay function (a.k.a. the Spectator view) in this game at the end of a level where you can view your run in pride, alongside your game stats.
Aside from selfburniums, you can collect black boxes, which will reveal more of the storyline, achievements and dog tags too. These aren’t exactly necessary to the gameplay, unlike selfburniums are, but players who like more of a challenge should definitely give collecting all of these a try.
Blackhole is mainly a single-player experience, but it does offer an online mode, Challenge Vault, where you can try solving special event-based puzzles as fast as they can and possibly get first place on the leaderboard. The winner of the event will then get into the game’s hall of fame called the King of the Vault. The events are also organized on a seasonal basis, much like a tournament, and the leaderboard will be reset at the end of a season.
Now, as impressive as this game is, Blackhole still happens to fall into – pardon the pun – the black hole that many puzzle-platformers often do – it tries to get you to go through too many challenges without a nicely-positioned save point in between. I understand that the game is supposed to be punishing, being hardcore and all, but at one point, the game simply stopped being punishing and start making you feel like you should just uninstall it just to save yourself all the unnecessary stress. So, yes, more save points would be appreciated maybe not in the individual puzzle levels but in the world.
As mentioned before, the game’s tutorial is just amazing but it is sadly not very comprehensive. It would have been nice, for instance, to know that players can move the camera view around so you can view what you’re getting your character into before jumping off a cliff.
However, I also have a bone to pick with the large file size of this game. For a puzzle-platformer game with nice but not particularly high-end graphics, it just seemed odd that the game took up more than 3GB of space. It’s not exactly a huge downside, but it is just something that I think players would like to know.
The community for the game isn’t exactly large to begin with, but it is on the rather low side of the spectrum. However, there are some helpful members of the community who have uploaded video snippets of their gameplay, showing other players how to complete a level for example.
I understand that not many people enjoy listening to techno music but the techno-inspired soundtrack in this game is frankly fantastic. I literally can feel the “sci-fi-ness” of the game seeping through in between the tunes. It’s just brilliant!
The graphics in Blackhole is just as equally amazing. The crisp visuals have a nice palette of complementing and relaxing tones. The art style is pretty distinct and I really like the little details like having the alien flora blossom when you run past it. Though, it’d be nice to have different backgrounds and colors from time to time since some players may eventually get tired of seeing the same stuff day in and day out.
All in all, Blackhole is an impressive 2D puzzle-platformer that isn’t only funny, unique and challenging to play; it is a work of art as well... the art of mentally torturing you whenever you missed that ledge near the end of an unsaved run, that is. Jokes aside, Blackhole is truly a masterpiece. Its brilliant level designs and mind-blowing game mechanics will have you turning this way and that to predict how the puzzle will look when the gravity is shifted and the whole map is turned on its head.
For the asking price of $8.99, Blackhole is definitely a steal – it’s literally a no-brainer if you enjoy hardcore 2D puzzle-platformers though. But, if you’re unsure and would like to try the game before buying it, you can do so by checking out its free demo on Steam.