Black Future ‘88 is a roguelike, synth-punk, 2D action game for up to two players. As the eShop seems to have a new roguelike game added weekly, is it worth the trip back to an alternate 1988?
The story can be summed up simply: you play as one of five survivors of a nuclear bomb that went off in the summer of 1988. By December that year, the sun had been blocked out with endless rain. Since the bomb, people stopped measuring time and it has been 1988 ever since. Time is now measured in the time left to live. The goal of the survivors is to climb the tower and destroy the AI that stands in the way so you can stop the endless rain. You are trying to do so before you die, measured in-game as 18 minutes.
Each of the five playable survivors has different perks. One of the most useful is the ability to slow time. Another allows you to find better weapons. Along with the perks comes the disadvantages, such as less life. So choosing a survivor wisely is a must.
You can explore the tower as much as you would like. Doing so you can find secrets such as upgrades or weapons; it’s a risk though, as it is taking away time you have to complete your mission. There are shops along the way, too. Forms of payment can be either in-game money found by defeating enemies or paid for by sacrificing time. There is a wide selection of weapons in the game, which keeps it interesting. Each survivor can hold two weapons; if you find a new one you want to try, just drop one of your current weapons.
To progress through the tower you must destroy every enemy in a room. Once defeated, arrows will point to the doors. A question mark will appear for rooms to explore, doing so you could possibly find a secret in them. If you want to head straight for the boss then head towards the door with the skull on it.
At the end of each level of the tower is a boss fight. After defeating them, they will usually drop a fair amount of ammo as well as health. You also get to choose from a list of three ability upgrades. The more you upgrade your abilities, it seemed the greater your chances of survival.
I have had good experiences with roguelike games and bad experiences with them. Black Future ‘88 falls somewhere in between. It doesn’t add unnecessary difficulty to the game. Instead it makes having to restart feel fresher. There were times where I really enjoyed exploring the tower because of this. Even after dying and starting again it never felt overly different or difficult. Enemies always felt evenly distributed.
Honestly, not knowing a thing about the synth-punk genre before playing Black Future ‘88, it seemed to fit right in. I was surprised at how some of the beats were catchy and I had them stuck in my head long after playing. This resulted in me singing poorly to one of my cats to the beat that was stuck in my head.
With the eShop seemingly overrun with roguelike titles, Black Future ‘88 doesn’t overuse the idea. It does a good job of giving options for exploration to the player. In the end, it’s a fun game but I’m still not entirely convinced it’s worth the asking price of $19.99