Black Paradox (PC) Review

By Eric Ace 15.07.2019

Review for Black Paradox on PC

Black Paradox is a procedurally-generated shooter that at first glance plays like others in the genre. Originally made for mobile phones, now released on other systems and PC, of which this review is looking at the Switch version. Notable for its stylised, '80s era graphics and its synthwave music; purely on style, it has some solid flair to it. What makes this unique, is the slight RPG elements, and the fact each level is randomised. How much is there to this title to keep players around after they are going to die over, and over, and over?

Mixing genres seems to be all the rage these days in gaming, and in this way Black Paradox holds true to this convention. Taking a cue from rogue-likes is an odd choice for a space shoot 'em up, one that then throws some RPG elements in. It's a rare mix, and it this way seems similar to an slightly older game called Drifting Lands, and for all intents and purposes it works, though it may not have been the best choice.

Not to detract from the game, because it is actually fairly good. At first glance and a brief play it seems perhaps simpler than it truly is. The very first couple of times this absolutely seems like a phenomenal hit: colourful graphics, rocking music, upgrading stats - it seems like a great mix all the way around. By far one of the most notable things about the game is the synthwave songs that are rocking each level along with the 'retro-futurism' style of art. For those uninitiated, synthwave is a music genre that draws from '80s style music that is heavily electronic in sound; and the art looks like '80s mixed with purples and blues.

The actual game works as follows: due to the random level generator, each time you play the stage is completely made up. Fighting through waves of enemies, there are set bosses at the end of each stage, and if you can make it through seven straight levels you win. It is scaled such that, without extensive levelling up, it is nearly impossible to win without additional power. So often it is simply playing the first level or two, dying, and repeating. Along the way money is slowly acquired which can be used to buy upgrades.

Screenshot for Black Paradox on PC

Easily for the first hour or two the flaws in the game are not apparent, and there is the driving desire to just make it past a level or two. The experience is fairly hard, owed partly to a large and odd hitbox, with dying happening very frequently. Progression happens slowly, as money acquired which can be used to buy various chips, of which do two different things. The first is the type, which can apply things like a small percent chance, a triple shot, or the ability to dodge damage. The second part is a stat boost the chip provides, either to HP, speed, damage, or fire rate. The chip stats are the only way to progress in the game, but are also very expensive, and money comes very slow. This feeds into one of the two flaws at hand.

The first flaw is that the random levels do not really work. After a couple of romps they all blend together: asteroid wall level, laser level, guys attacking from back level, and so on. It doesn't matter if you are on level one, or level five - any of them can be the same. It is unfortunate. Either outright well-designed levels would have been better, or at least some sort of theme or difference such that level one is the solar flare level, and level two is the ice planet level, or something.

The other problem is just how slow progression happens. It is easily 10 or more hours of grinding level one and two over and over to try to get money for the better chips, of which increase power only marginally. Because the hitbox is so large, many subsequent boss fights are simply slug fests rather than parts that require any skilful dodging, as players must have good stats to stand toe to toe.

These parts are unfortunate, as these hold it back from being much greater. As it is, there is something oddly engaging that keeps bringing the player back to try again. The music may get repetitive, the progress is nearly glacial, but the end just seems so tantalising close that it encourages replay over and over. Flawed for sure, but there is some heart and style that makes up for its issues.

Screenshot for Black Paradox on PC

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Looking at screenshots, and playing the game briefly, it does not seem like it might be as good as it actually is. But there is something oddly addicting trying 'just one more time' to get further. The progression could use some quickening, and other things could use expanding; but the flair the game possesses is hard to deny. Really the only thing stopping this from a higher score is the lack of depth, such as a story, better upgrade systems, or anything along these lines, but for what it is, it is surprisingly solid.

Developer

Fantastico Studio

Publisher

Digerati Distribution

Genre

Shooter

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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