BLACK FUTURE '88 / DEVELOPER: SUPERSCARYSNAKES / PULISHER: GAMBITIOUS / PLATFORM: PC, SWITCH (REVIEWED) / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
After a nuclear blast blacked out the sun in 1988, humanity stopped counting the years and time is now measured in “minutes left to live.” In a cyberpunk-infused alternate reality permanently anchored in the late 80s, your job is to ascend Skymelt Tower and take down its owner, the man responsible for the never-ending nuclear rain. But you've only got eighteen minutes left until your heart explodes...
The tower is procedurally generated, so the rooms and layouts change each time you play and you're never quite sure which enemies or bosses you might come across. Bearing in mind you only have a limited amount of time to beat the game, it's up to you whether you want to explore a little bit to grind out some EXP or just head straight to the boss room (its location changes, but it will always be clearly signposted during each run). There are plenty of weapons to find, shops to restock your health and ammo, and temporary upgrades that can either buff or “curse” (or sometimes both) your current stats. Some weapons perform better as your curse level builds up, but do you want to risk dropping to a single health point just for some mega firepower? Yeah, you probably do!
When you die, your character earns experience points based on your performance during the run. You level up automatically, with new abilities, weapons, perks becoming available for use in future runs. A few shortcuts can be found as you progress through the game, making future runs a little easier, and the addition of unlockable playable characters helps to maintain interest through repeat runs.
The pixel art is nicely done with lots of 80s neon and flashy animations, and the synthwave soundtrack is pretty great (although not quite up to the incredible similarly-named Black Paradox). On the downside, there are some notable crashing / freezing issues, and enemies spawning / hiding behind HUD icons can lead to some frustrating deaths.
Black Future '88 is one of the easier roguelikes out there and, with less than 20 minutes' worth of game time, there's not a whole lot of content to see. It's a ton of fun while it lasts, but there maybe isn't quite as much to it as we would have liked. It's a great introduction to a world that we'd love to see being fleshed out further in the future.