In a few simple words, Black Future ’88 is a ‘Masochistic Blade Runner platformer’. I say that as a positive because I love every moment of it. You’ll likely die over and over again, but every death is progress.
Welcome to After 1988
The game is set in an alternative timeline in which the world blew up in 1988 and people stopped keeping track of time (this includes years, months or days). The only measurement of time left is how long you have to live.
Each play through is on an 18-minute timer – before your heart explodes – as you must fight your way through a procedural-generated fortress called Skymelt. I have yet to run out of time before dying but each death unlocks new upgrades and weapons.
The style reminds me heavily of Blade Runner and, oddly, the Double Dragons movie (a staple of my childhood). These are not the only homages to 80’s dystopian works. Neon lights everywhere, brightly colored bullets and enemies left, right, up and down – thank the developer for the auto-assist targeting.
I highly recommend taking some time each run through to explore the map, to find some upgrades and weapons. Having made a direct run for the boss a few times, I can safely say beating it with the start weapons is hard or next to impossible. Find at least one really deadly gun and a lot of ammo and you can handle most of the bosses, though they do change each time.
One challenge I found were a few glitches that would hamper your progress. While not bountiful, they did pop up at the worst possible times when it did happen.
My biggest challenge has been conserving HP – still working on dodging bullets. Once you’ve beaten a boss you carry on further into Skymelt. Full disclosure, at the time of writing this I have only beaten a fourth boss so I can’t say how much more complicated the game gets after this but will hopefully be finding out this week.
The Future is Black
Black Future ’88 is a homage to an era of gaming and pop-culture that is easy to learn but difficult to master. If you like retro shooter platformers, I would suggest picking this up on Switch.
Disclaimer: The game used for this review was purchased from the Nintendo eShop.
8Bit/Digi is an independent media outlet that provides an insight into the video game community and industry of the San Francisco Bay Area.
Help Support 8Bit/Digi
We are an indie media outlet that provides an insight into the gaming community and industry of the Bay Area. Please help support independent media by donating today.