I fucking love the 80s aesthetic. I’m even comfortable enough to come off the blocks with an f-bomb the second I get to profess how it makes me feel. The flashy neon that takes eye-searingly bright pinks and mushes them against a gritty dark contrast fills me with an abject joy. Even the shittiest game could half do such an aesthetic and I’d at least be captivated for a moment or two before the deep sense of betrayal kicked in and I realised I’d been had.
Black Future ‘88 however does me the great service of not being a shitty game, and even goes so far as to do the 1980s neon retro cyberpunk electric boogaloo brilliantly. Its beautiful visual assault of bright colours, meaty guns and ruthless pixel baddies captivated me the moment the filthy soundtrack kicked in – I was a slave to this neon darling and I graciously welcomed my new master.
It’s a little ‘Bullet Hell’ like, just a little – maybe a ‘Bullet Heck’?
Black Future ‘88 (henceforth BF88, or Beef-ate-ate) paints that oh-so familiar picture of our bleak future, as ruthless robot henchmen and their tyrannical AI-robot-overlord-thing sit atop a procedurally generated tower taunting our stupid fleshy selves to pack all manner of heat and come topple them. Smash through room after room, blasting baddies and bosses – all while upgrading your arsenal of glorious guns and upgrades as the synth-punk soundtrack urges you ever closer to the boss at the top of the tower for an epic showdown. Also, you have 18 minutes to do so, or your heart will explode.
I was hooked from the moment the gameplay started, but this imposed time limit nibbled away at me like a mouse feasting on a Ford Explorer. Part of me had concern that it may become an issue – but the rest of me was too busy flattening baddies to care. The truth is, the game is so unrepentantly balls-to-the-wall that the majority of your gameplay experience doesn’t even begin to approach 18 minutes. My first session went for well over 2 hours, and my death count was easily in the 20s, but I didn’t care. The procedural generation of the game’s levels, coupled with just how goddamn beautiful they are kept me itching to go again and again. I even found myself getting little tidbits of a leg-up at times, as after a particularly pathetic run I found my next playthrough offering me a random free upgrade via a purple-portal that greeted me after my first baddy room, and I felt a little like John McClane touting “Now I have a machine gun, ho ho ho” as I pasted the first boss with my newfound player-power.
The pixel stylings of the game integrate beautifully with the gorgeous particle effects and lighting
I have no idea if this is a dev-designed experience within Beefy Ate, to perhaps discover the player is eating shit and to maybe give them a little bonus to take the edge off, but even if it isn’t the game had enough systems in place for such an occurrence to take place, and it filled me with glee and optimism that perhaps I will stop eating the poo soon – something that a rogue-like genre gameplay experience definitely needs.
Even the lightning-fast gameplay somehow moulded itself around my old and atrophied ‘git gud’ glands, as I recognised parts of the game’s hazards and moulded my own answer to them. Perhaps you are not quick enough to dodge every bullet on screen as it slowly tracks towards you? That’s fine, take upgrades that let you blink-dodge through walls, or perhaps more than once. Maybe play a different character and flex their own unique gameplay style and see how that fits within your purview. The neon world is your laser oyster, man.
Being twice my height should be enough, but noooo he needs an Uzi AND a Lightsaber
Bee Fate Ate shares some DNA with Dead Cells in how undeniably charming it is, oozing with a kind of developer love that can feel absent in more modern ‘manufactured’ games. Every corner of it is shined up to a magnificent polish and proudly earns your respect at how well crafted it is. It is an example of what indie titles should always aspire to be, and I demand you play it as soon as you possibly can.
Black Future ’88 is due for release ‘soon’ for PC/Steam and Nintendo Switch.