Have you ever wondered what happens when you’re sucked into a deep bleak void within space? Would you still survive or would your existence be erased forever? Fiolafsoft Studios are trying to answer these questions with BlackHole. Originally released on Steam in 2015, this hardcore platformer has now made it’s way onto Xbox One.
Like a true Hero movie, you start as the insignificant coffee guy, but after your ship is sucked into a black hole, it is up to you to rescue your crew and make your way out. From the menu you can decide whether you want to take the full story experience, or to skip past the dialogue and head straight into the campaign. After your altercation with the black hole, you awaken within the Entity. Entity is an unidentified object that resembles a planet, it also is the location that becomes the base of operations.
Entity is split into different worlds, that all have different obstacles to overcome. Within the worlds there are 12 levels that where you must retrieve selfburners. These selfburners are needed to help repair the ship and open up the vortex to other worlds. Within the first few levels of each world, it will lay out the new mechanic so it lets you gets to grips with how it works. Gathering selfburners usually consists of logically explanations, but you have combat gravity in order to really get your head around it. Each level will have different gravity points that will change the orientation of the screen, allowing you to reach places that were inaccessible beforehand.
Blackhole claims itself as a hardcore platformer and it’s exactly that, however it produces a great balance to accommodate for everyone. On each level, you only have to retrieve one selfburner to complete the missions, so if you consistently failing to gain any more selfburners, you can still proceed through the story. More hardcore players will want to gather everything before finishing, but that comes with risk. If you die within the level, it will completely reset itself, leaving you to repeat all of your hard work. When you have collected all of the selfburner, your time will be added to the leader boards. Even for me, classing myself as a casual gamer, I would still envy the person at the top, wanting to find a way to de-throne them.
A great inclusion is adventure mode. Choosing this mode will allow you to enjoy the story mode, while still gathering all the selfburners. Within the level you can grab a selfburner and then head back to the start point, this will save the game, so if you die you will still have that selfburner in the bank. If you’re a ‘completionist’ like myself, it provides the balance of enjoying the game, while still having the knowledge that you can complete everything.
It’s not just the levels that contain collectibles. Dotted throughout each world are various collectibles that can be obtained to add more back story. You have to think more outside the box to collect them, but it easily adds another three to four hours of fun gameplay. FiolaSoft Studios have also added two DLC packs. The Testing Labs is set before events and explains how you received your role. Its a tongue in cheek twist on Portal, but it doesn’t add anything, leaving me a little disappointed, especially after the good experience I had with the story mode. The second DLC pack provides something for the more hard core fans. The Director Cut, as a set of levels is extremely difficult to complete. I really had a hard time trying to complete them, with timing and reactions key, but I can imagine more experienced platformers would love every second of these.
Its frankly not the best looking or best sounding game, but it really didn’t bother me too much, because the gameplay is so strong. Dialogue between the characters is sharp and witty, however it can be a little long winded at times. The frame rate was mostly solid throughout the levels, dropping only occasionally when wandering around the world.