It seems like platformers are a dime-a-dozen these days, and I’ve definitely played my fair share over the last couple of years. Blackhole: Complete Edition is a fairly charming little platformer though that came out of nowhere and, while having some issues with controls and framerates, has plenty of charm and interesting level designs and mechanics.
In Blackhole, you play the equivalent of a sci-fi production assistant, a lowly worker aboard the spaceship Endura, whose biggest tasks generally involve getting coffee for the crew. The ship’s mission is basically to save the Earth, but in the process ends up trapped inside a multidimensional entity. From the get-go, it appears that you are the only survivor, and you and your sassy ships AI are tasked with finding ‘selfburns’ which are nanobots that are capable of fixing the ship. Along the way, you’ll also pick up more pieces for the ship and find some of the remaining crew, as you work through a variety of sub-dimensions.
These sub-dimensions are where most selfburns are found, and where the bulk of the game’s platforming takes place. To proceed with the story you need to collect a certain amount of selfburns, although you usually just need to get one from each stage in each zone or sub-dimension. It’s fairly easy to get the story rolling, but you’ll want to take on the challenge of collecting all the selfburns because really that’s what these games are all about. The stages contain a good mix of environments, and the biggest gameplay feature is the ability to flip gravity. There are usually glowing white spots in each area, and when you hit it, it’ll rotate the map and play around with gravity. So you’ll need to be able to spot selfburns and play around with the routes to take and gravity switches to hit to get all that you need.
In theory this is a good idea, however, the game has some serious control issues. Blackhole often needs some precise pixel perfect jumping and occasionally you just won’t make certain jumps, repeatedly, due to weird control issues. There are also framerate issues that happen especially when there’s a lot happening onscreen, which can be a big issue once again when you’re trying to make precise jumps. In the end, the control and framerate issues really kept me from enjoying the game as much as I would have liked.
Blackhole does have a pretty entertaining story, that can be borderline cheesy, but overall pretty decent. There’s actually a lot of great voice acting throughout the game, although sometimes I found the AI that accompanies you to be more annoying than anything. Still, the other crew and your own dialogue is generally well done, and you do have the option to have lots of dialogue or minimal if you just want to focus on platforming. The overall graphics of the environments are pretty clean and crisp, and the character pixels also look really sharp. The soundtrack is also pretty solid, with the kind of minimal electronic type soundtrack that you would come to expect from an indie game in the style of Blackhole.
In the end, Blackhole is a pretty challenging and fun platformer, with some slight issues. I was really sucked into the story and wanted to see the crew of the Endura make it out alive, and kept playing to see what would happen next. However, the control issues and framerate slowdowns really put a damper on my overall enjoyment. It’s not the longest game, but there are quite a few things to collect, and the PS4 version of Blackhole contains the extra DLC from the PC release. Blackhole isn’t the best, but it’s a pretty enjoyable journey, especially if you’re a fan of sci-fi comedies, and is likely worth checking out if you like your platformers with a touch of Galaxy Quest laughter.
A copy of Blackhole was provided by the publishers for the purpose of this review.