Black Paradox (Review)

Source: Cashmoneys
Price: £11.39 (£13.74 for game+soundtrack, £5.79 for soundtrack)
Where To Get It: Steam

Hey you! Do you remember the 80s? How about something more recent that remembers the 80s, Vaporwave? Okay, okay, let’s make this a little easier? How much do you know about shooting spaceships in procgenned patterns that then go boom, followed by a bigger boss spaceship, and doing that until you go boom, at which point you get points to buy better stats, then do it again?

Ah, okay, I feel we reached the maximum number of folks with that last one.

As soon as I saw this, I thought: “Yes, this is exactly the mood the game is going for: Blowing shit up with MURDERKEYTAR.”

So yes, Black Paradox is a shoot-em-up, of the horizontal variety, where you, a bounty hunter with duplication powers called Black Paradox, shoot space pirates, cowboys, and other ne’er do wells, beat bosses in a space DeLorean, and, when you die, you get the chance to use the money you earned to buy upgrades. Not new weapons, mind you, because weapons drop from Carriers in level, and it’s random what you can pick up, but stat upgrades, to things like health, attack, speed, and fire rate (With added percentage chance of something extra per shot, according to the chip you slot.)

So, what’s it like? Well, I feel like the main good points are its aesthetic, and the energy of its weapons. Aesthetic wise, Black Paradox is trying for a Vaporwave aesthetic, a style that pays an odd kind of homage to the 80s styles while also ambiguously satirising the consumer culture of the period. So, on the one hand, synth tunes with a distinct 80s feel, bike helmets, big triangles, and, on the other, parodies of popular 80s icons like Lobo, Tex Hex, and the Master Blaster duo. It’s mostly surface level, but it does work moodwise.

I don’t feel like fighting this guy, where’s a wisecracking horse, a bad comedy sidekick, and a sheriff with animal powers when you need them?

As to the weapons, well, there’s quite a few of them, and, beyond the bog standard gun with middling round bullets wot go pew pew pew, there are lasers, deadly boomerangs, railguns, flamethrowers… Each weapon acts pretty differently, and some, like the railgun, are definitely meant for use on bosses or big enemies only. What matters is that they are all, from the weakest to the strongest, chunky and exciting to use. I love being slowed down by the Dart Punk, my missile pods wrecking anything silly enough to stay in the way. I love filling the screen with boomerangs, wandering around the screen as entire asteroid fields (and the ambushes behind them) die before I really get to see them. And equally, I love a lot of the powerups you get from defeating one of the seven bosses. The blade drone (A roomba, but with knives.) The medic drone, occasionally topping me up because, boy, I also love running into bullets and exploding a lot.

Of course, that’s because, at any given time, there’s a fair amount of bullets on screen at any one time. It isn’t quite bullet hell, but it comes pretty close, and there are some attacks that make you panic. But runs are quick to restart, and I know, with each failed run, I’m a tiny bit closer to getting more powerful. I could do with becoming more powerful a little more quickly (As higher level chips cost a lot more, and so do the chip slots), but, honestly, it isn’t terrible. Know that, unless you’re good at these ol’ shmups, you may be a while to properly powerup, and, if you’re cool with that, then it’s all good.

And yes, occasionally, you run into a Black Paradox event. Which is mirror match BADTIMES (In the best way.)

So yeah, overall, I feel positive about Black Paradox. It’s a little slow to get going if you’re not great at shmups (HI), but its aesthetic is nice, its weapons feel good, especially once you get how they work, its music is good, and I can see myself coming back to this quite a bit.

The Mad Welshman unfortunately has neither the touch, nor the power to take on the final boss yet, but when he does, he will dare, dare to believe he will suriiiiiive.

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