Black Hole Review
Note: This is NOT a direct translation of the original IGN article, but rather a more free translation of my words in Greek with a little bit of flavor added for my blog.
The game has managed to surprise a lot of people with how beautifully made it is and it was not surprising to read so many good reviews for it from other websites. It’s not every day that people across the world will be thrilled with an indie game, let alone a platformer game. It mostly has to do with the fact that there are so many out there thus making it really hard for pretty much anyone to come out with something that will penetrate the market and get such a big amount of attention.
But I am not here to talk about the fact that the game received tons of 9s out of 10 and how good other reviewers thought it was. I’m here to share with you my own opinion about it.
So Black Hole, as you may have already realized, is a platformer that takes place in space, or space matter, or space cave, or whatever that thing was. It has quite an interesting story arc since your character is supposed to be just the “coffee guy” of a ship’s crew that is responsible for closing black holes. Yes, you are on a spaceship that is closing black holes and saving humanity, day by day, one after another.
The ship is also equipped with an A.I. that talks to you, and god, it never stops talking. It does make some quite interesting jokes and it’s nice to see how they blended the tutorial lines along with the rest of the story script that she talks about throughout the game. But if I seriously knew that it was going to be that amount of talking then I would have just turned off subtitles or something. I really didn’t know if I was going to miss something important or if she was going to make another weird joke.
The game starts by asking you if you would like to skip all cutscenes or if you would like to watch them, thus allowing you to understand the story. I chose to see the story just because it’s there. I mean, if you are going to be adding a story to a game, it might as well be decent, so in the end, worth watching. I was not disappointed.
Despite the amount of talking that the annoying A.I. does throughout the game, the initial cutscenes left me wondering what’s going on, which I think is good. Especially when you manage to blend the story with a simplistic game such as one that just has platforming elements.
The gameplay is all about twisting reality but not gravity too. It was like playing In Between, just more spacey. Or In Between was like playing Black Hole, but with gravity. You get the point.
You basically touch walls that have a glowing light and when you do, the walls turn around and your character is the only thing that gets affected by the gravity of the twisted reality. That basically creates a lot of platforming puzzles that get really hard fast. The game has actually been called “way too hard” by a lot of people and the developers had to add an ‘easy mode” to the game just because there were a lot of people that just couldn’t handle the level of difficulty that the game had.
But personally, being a person that has played hundreds of platformers, I felt like “easy mode” was way too easy. It was like asking me to club baby seals when I could be out hunting whales. The thrill is just not the same (as bad as my comparison may be).
During the game, you are guided by the A.I. every time you meet new platforming elements and you are traversing a map full of mini-levels that are basically the juice of the game. Each level has orbs or items and you have to get all of them and get back to the starting point without dying. That adds a lot of difficulty since you not only have to get to the orb (Super Meat Boy style) but also get back, so you have to constantly think how to twist the reality around you in order to get back safe.
The graphics of the game are really pretty. I am really happy this isn’t another pixel art platformer and the makers of the game did a great job with the animation as well. Everything feels really fluent and everything moves in a way that gives you the feeling you are indeed in a weird alternate space reality. Both the backgrounds and the characters are interesting and unique.
The music of the game is something I really want to talk about. I haven’t heard good music in a platformer game since Super Meat Boy and I’ve had my hopes up for many other games in the past, with all of them not standing up to them. Black Hole on the other hand, surprised me with how loud or quite it can be at just the right moments. The constant repetition of levels in hard games requires that there is some good music so that you don’t get tired fast and to keep things interesting. Black Hole did that exquisitely well and it sets the bar high again for future platformers.
The game is not perfect though. Having played many other platformers, I know what good control of your character feels like in platformer games and Black Hole did not give me that. I felt as if sometimes I couldn’t just get to a certain edge unless I was lucky and released the button/thumbstick at the right time. I did spend a few hours on the game just to get used to it and I did try it with both keyboard and controller, but the problem remained. I just couldn’t enjoy it as much as I would want to because of that uncontrolled slide effect. You’ll probably tell me “but Super Meat Boy kind of had that too.” Well the thing is, in Super Meat Boy you could master controlling the character and there was a learning curve. I did not feel that learning curve that well in Black Hole.
It’s also worth noting that some very cool people gave their voices to the game, among them being, Mark Whitten, Blake Swift, Kira Buckland, Edwyn Tiong, Anthony Sardinha, Martin Billany, Devon Talbott, River Kanoff, Marissa Lenti and many others. The person behind the directing of all those voices is Chris Niosi, who is also known for the creation of the “TOME” series as well as many other internet videos.
Overall, the game is quite good and I would easily recommend it to any fan of the genre. I could also easily say that it should not be missing from any hardcore platformer fan’s library since it provides really good platforming challenges that will keep you in front of the screen for hours.
Worth its money and filled with tons of replayability, Black Hole will keep company to any gamer with its hard platforming puzzles.
Rating : 8.2 / 10
-Konstantinos “Kelfecil” Christakis