Black Future ’88 plucks that cyberpunk chord within everyone’s soul, becoming evermore present in modern media. Drawing inspiration from Risk of Rain and other rouge-like titles, Black Future ’88 sees the player engage in a series of increasingly difficult rooms before reaching a final boss, while traversing tricky platforms, treasure rooms, NPC merchants and sinister traps.
Black Future ’88 is a fast-paced action-packed 2D rouge-like title that like many of the genre can be ridiculously brutal but is incredibly fun to play. You navigate a tower hotel who’s sentient AI has become overtly hostile towards its guests, so hostile in fact that the moment you step inside your cyberheart begins to shutdown, you have 20 minutes to climb the tower and bring an end to the hostile AI and save your life. This countdown timer also has a second function as it operates something akin to an in-game currency. As you defeat enemies you earn dollars but there are certain ways to earn time instead. Time and money can both be spent on upgrades, weapons, talents and perks to improve your journey to the top and aid you in the fight.
Time-bought perks/upgrades are far more powerful than those purchased using money by the nature of the fact they literally shorten your lifespan and so you need to move even faster after picking one up. Defeating enemies also has a chance at dropping these items as well, however at highly reduced drop rates.
Much like Risk of Rain, the levels don’t just become more difficult as you progress but the tower itself is able to level up by reclaiming any uncollected items/pick ups. Thankfully this doesn’t include weapons and other select items but for every uncollected dollar the tower becomes more threatening. Tower level ups range from spawning more bad guys to trap upgrades to spawning special mini-boss enemies to hunt you down, but as always the more risk, the more reward. Higher levelled towers are likely to drop better items/gear to make your journey better, balancing the risk/reward is another question altogether.
Black Future ’88 combines all the best aspects from Risk of Rain with rogue Legacy’s platform mechanics while adding a cool little dash manoeuvre that can be upgraded/altered/enhanced by defeating bosses and acquiring skills. One such upgrade turns the dash into an offensive laser-dash attack, useful for crossing terrain and cutting through bad guys at the same time. Black Future ’88’s upgrades create some incredible combinations, such as a teleporting railgun and bouncing bullets that ricochet around the screen, swapping you and the target’s location upon impact. Bouncing bullets are always great fun but adding in teleportation makes them even better!
It’s a shame the demo session came to an end when it did, Black Future ’88 is maddeningly addictive, not Fortnite-medical-diagnosis kind of addictive but pretty damn close. You finish a run, or bomb out as is often the case, and immediately want to hit restart and go again. Every run is unique and gives you opportunities to discover new ways of doing almost anything, combining powers and upgrades in new and exciting ways! Black Future ’88 is definitely one to look out for if you’re a fan of cyberpunk aesthetics and fast paced rogue-likes!