Developed and published by FiolaSoft Studio, an Indie multimedia group formed in 2002, BLACKHOLE is an animated 2D sci-fi platform game that includes elements of logic, breathtaking story and audiovisual processing. Become a hero and discover the secrets hidden in a mysterious Entity, an object resembling a planet.
The story focuses on a group of people in a strange mission aboard a spaceship called Endera. The group has numerous experts in their tasks, a brave captain and an artificial intelligence with apparent free will. When the IA disobeys the orders of the captain in the middle of a dangerous mission near a black hole, the ship is destroyed and the crew is lost in the middle of a mysterious Entity.
Bastardized and denigrated by the rest of the crew for being “the coffee making boy”, we repair the ship following the help of the AI that, for some reason, was transferred to a PDA. The IA serves as a guide and is arguably the most fun character in the game, she will tell jokes, put music, remind us that we must escape soon from the Entity before dying of thirst but will also explain that to repair the ship, we have to find several parts from the ship and collect “Selfburns” small parts with nanobots capable of adapting, recharge and repair what we need.
The game mechanics are extremely simple: We can jump and move like any other 2D platform game, with the particularity that touching a lighted floor, gravity changes and the map rotates. While it is a simple mechanic, throughout the game the puzzles are enhanced with traps to avoid, abilities to break doors, disable mechanisms and dodging lasers, but always the main difficulty of the game involves a puzzle to solve – and them become really hard quickly.
The game does not have levels which can be completed in seconds. Each puzzle can take you 10 or 15 minutes, and sometimes more. Each level has a minimum of Selfburns to be collected before we can get out and progress further in the mission, but the idea is to collect all of them (4, 5 or more depending on the length of the map). This task is extremely complex, requires a lot of thought and skill and this is what adds many hours to the game. If we decide to rush the story it could take us only 5 hours, but achieving 100% can increase the timer at least 4 times.
By collecting enough Selfburns and parts we will progress further in the story and jump to other dimensions, which serve not only as a change of environment but also as a base for rescuing or finding crew members who will share their experiences or skills with us.
Each member of the crew and even the IA have their own personality. Some are going crazy because of the circumstances, others are upset, others share us his philosophical thoughts about what would happen if we had a negative IQ, but all agree that we are simply “the coffee guy” and will not hide their sadness when they find us and not another crew member.
To rescue crew members or find parts of Endera, we will need to overcome special challenges, some of them defeating bosses, but always using the very same mechanics. Some puzzles as stated above are incredible hard, but sometimes also frustrating. We will lose a fair amount of time by simple making a mistake and having to start the level all over again.
As an extra, all the environments have black boxes with recordings that will tell us more about the story, the beginning of the mission, conspiracies, blackmail and other neat pearls useful to relax the challenges and learn a little more about the game.
The title has 2D graphics animations in full HD with amazing places and environments to discover and explore. Jungles, old libraries, aliens, spaceships, you name it.
But the sound quality, however, receives all the awards. Full English voicecast and captivating soundtracks. All the characters are well defined by a unique personality and style, all situations are absurd and all kind of jokes are made. You may be escaping lava while another member tells how he regrets not having a camera to record and upload the moment to YouTube, trying to overcome a challenge while a weird plant-boss laughs at us in the face, and the constant “help” we received from the AI inviting us to think a little more before dying so often.
Blackhole is ideal for 2D platform games fans. It is also a title where players can take up pride for beating due to the hard puzzles. The challenges are complex and frustrating moments are overshadowed with constant humor. It is undoubtedly a recommended game.