This title is available on, and was reviewed on PC.
In a market flooded by carbon-copies, it is essential to find the right combination of theme, gameplay and presentation to stand out. So is the case for bullet-hell games that are undergoing resurgence in their popularity and numbers. This resurgence phenomenon usually leads downs two paths: either healthy competitive titles that are vying for being the very best or cash-grab opportunists wanting a piece of the pie without any effort. So when I received this Early Access title to review, I was skeptical about what this game would turn out. Let’s get into Black Paradox!
Back to the Future is now old man:
Black Paradox is side-scrolling shooter with intense bullet-hell gameplay and rogue-like elements. The game is a perfect template of the funky 80s retro-future theme done right. The pixelated art is amazing, complemented by an undeniably groovy Synth-Wave Soundtrack. The story isn’t the point here, so I’m glad they kept it simple and straight to the point. You play as a stylish bounty hunter, riding across the galaxy in your space DeLorean bringing baddies to justice. The baddies, cutely named the Hellraisers, are a criminal organization with 7 bosses in command of an infinite number of minions. If you watched or read Ready Player One and/or Back to The Future, then you’ll quickly notice the inspiration of both on the design of your space car. Throughout the game, the hinted humor in names and descriptions of everything is also consistent and sticks to the theme.
Pimp my ride, over and over again:
For this sort of game, the selling point is the gameplay. And this one, diverse as the gameplay is, most of the elements come together to deliver an equally enjoyable and frustrating experience.
The game is hard. No like, I mean really hard. The main reason behind this difficulty is the rogue-like element that randomizes everything; enemies, obstacles and loot. With the game still lacking balance, that lands you either in “I died or I died quickly”. With a one life per run mechanic, your mission is to blast your way from start to finish in one go. Starting off with a gun shooting consecutive shots that can take down a basic enemy in 4-5 hits, depending on the enemy type. There are 50+ types. Each level you’ll have the chance to pick up one or two weapons that you can loot from a downed bulky enemy. Able to hold only two weapons at a time, I found myself wishing for either swarm gun or the rocket launcher for their unmatched clearing potential.
Death play a very important role in the structure of the game. Killing enemies is the main source of income, but blasting obstacles like asteroids and explosive mines is also a good way to build your numbers. However, this also suffers from a bothersome lack of reward, considering you get 3-9$ per kill in a game where upgrades cost in the thousands. Some upgrades are worth at least a dozen runs. Speaking of which, and why I mentioned the importance of dying, when you die you can enter the garage menu. In this section, you can use all the money you gathered to buy permanent chips to upgrade your car stats and get some neat secondary passives. Further power-ups can be acquired by defeating bosses in the form of temporary perks you keep until you die. These power-ups can range from extra speed, boost to damage and drones, the latter having a healthy diversity by healing, guarding, blasting or zapping to help you on your quest.
See you space cowboy: TL; DR:
For an E.A title , this game has a lot to offer but still leaves much to be desired in term of balancing. The content is there, and more is promised, yet it still needs to be refined for it to be more enjoyable. The boss fights are insanely intense and deservingly seen as the main attraction for the grind you’ll have to endure. Adding more bosses and levels could do this game a lot of good, instead of relying on the rogue-like element to hide the glaring flaw of how short it is. The enemies, loot, perks and branching progress are numerous and keep each run relatively fresh. If you are a fan of games like Heavy Weapon or Gradius, you’ll find yourself at home with small throwbacks to both.