Space is a cosmos of unforgiving forces and beautiful spectacle. But it is also a place to collect bounties and survive bullet hell. In the space between the stars, there is a rich bounty to be collected. Today, you will be that hunter to prove them wrong, and strapping into your Delorean, you set out to collect a price and blaze trails among the stars. This is Black Paradox from Italy-based Fantastico Studio. A side-scrolling shmup with rogue-like elements, Black Paradox is a game that unashamedly embraces its 1980s nostalgia with its presentation and features.
Black Paradox explodes with an assortment of neon-colors, a colorful palette of cosmic visuals, and a thumping synthwave soundtrack that promises to raise your pulse. The world of Black Paradox is fierce and incredibly eclectic as players will fight across space and tangle with dangerous foes which include an anthropomorphic dinosaur with a ship-shaped like Godzilla, a space biker reminiscent of DC Comic’s Lobo, and two brothers in a Mad Max-inspired van.
There are several bosses to fight, each with their own unique attack patterns and strategy. Even the ship that is flown can wield an assortment of weapons, including a music gun that fires glowing musical notes to the bass and rhythm of the synthwave soundtracks. Even the laser fire and background environments wield a cosmic glow to portray that array of cosmic occurrences. Black Paradox has a stunning presentation.
In addition to a wonderful presentation, Black Paradox has well-constructed mechanics that are unique in the spaceship shooter genre. Players will fight an assortment of smaller enemies while moving across the stage. Each enemy slain will earn them a small bounty. The enemy waves, their types, and arrangements change with each passing playthrough. This will continue until the end of the level, where players will fight one of the several large bosses.
Slaying a boss earns a big bounty and these bosses will make you work for those kills. Defeating a boss will allow for a new perk to be unlocked for the duration of the playthrough and this includes drones, increased attack power, or the ability to turn damage taken and reverse it. If a player dies, that bounty is kept, and wisely so, as the player will be offered to upgrade their ship with an arrangement of microchips. This is the core of the gameplay in Black Paradox and the chips chosen can tip the odds in your favor.
Each time a player dies, a random assortment of chips are available for purchase, and the player can unlock a maximum of four slots to allow for the best possible combination of chips. As for the chips, their levels and abilities vary, and choosing the right one will greatly enhance your craft. Some chips will allow auto-healing or a vampire-like health steal, as well as adding random missile fire to your shots and the ability to fire backward. The chips are rather pricey so players can expect to play and die quite frequently when they begin the game. But as more chip slots and chips are unlocked, this gives players a great opportunity to keep playing and experimenting with different chips.
Black Paradox features incredibly sharp gameplay and weaving in and out of laser fire is a delight. The thumping synthwave music puts players in an action-ready mood and excited to deal out punishment to those that willing to challenge them. Anime-styled explosions ignite the screen as lasers streak across the stars. Utilizing the different weapons is thrilling, from flamethrowers, to shotguns, to missiles, and smart guns. It’s a blast to play Black Paradox and each run feels fun and exciting. The bosses are a joy to take down and even the game’s secrets, such as the potential to face your own shadow, are fun to explore.
The only real drawback I would have with Black Paradox is repetition and controls. In a spaceship shooter, movement is everything. Those small movements, which can feel like mere millimeters on the screen, are the difference between living or dying. Most spaceship shooters feature an extremely tight degree of movement in avoiding shots. When you stop moving, the craft instantly stops. However, in Black Paradox, there is a very small but noticeable degree of momentum. When you stop moving, the ship drifts just a small bit in that direction, like flying your ship on ice.
This was likely made to coincide with the fact that you are in deep-space, where gravity is neutralized. However, this has caused me to get hit and inevitably shot down repeatedly. Additionally, the game can feel repetitive as the player will die often before reaching the third boss. This has to be done in order to accumulate the right amount of funds to purchase chips for the ship. As mentioned before, they are up there in their regards to price. It is recommended to keep stocking up on funds, no matter how many playthroughs it takes, in order to afford all four chip slots and have more tactical advantages.
Overall Black Paradox is a lot of fun and a short but great time, especially for players itching for a different type of spaceship shooter. Its presentation is absolutely stellar with a captivating visual presentation and a soundtrack that you will want to download and put on your playlist every where you go. The gameplay, despite a bit looser than one would like, is still incredibly engaging, fun, and challenging, as any good space-shooter should be. Black Paradox is a fantastic leap for Fantastico studio and a great experience for players. Grab your Motley Crue album, your aviator glasses, torn jeans, and leather jacket, because Black Paradox is very radical.
Black Paradox is available now on Steam, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4
Overall Black Paradox is a lot of fun and a short but great time, especially for players itching for a different type of spaceship shooter. Its presentation is absolutely stellar with a captivating visual presentation and a soundtrack that you will want to download and put on your playlist everywhere you go.