The calendars stopped counting time in 1988, after that, time is measured only in the minutes left to live. The bleak future of Black Future ’88 is played out in this 2D roguelike platformer that’s described as a synth-punk where the player seeks revenge for a world devastated by a nuclear catastrophe by fighting rogue AI through a procedurally generated tower.
Developed by SuperScarySnakes and published by Good Shepherd Entertainment and Surefire Games, BF88 combines the vivid neon glow of cyberpunk with roguelike bullet-hell elements to produce a 2D landscape filled with high-contrast death and destruction.
Ascend the tower to die and die to survive — and end the nuclear rain
In the story of the game, the world was destroyed by nuclear rain in 1988. The source of that destruction: a giant, ever-evolving cyborg tower built by an architect named Duncan. The last survivors have made a pact to ascend the tower and defeat the warden at the top, thus finally ending the terrible future overseen by the tower and its homicidal AI master.
Every session of BF88 lasts only 18 minutes. As a result, time is both an enemy and a weapon.
The tower itself is procedurally generated and changes every time the player enters. The look of the levels is a pixelated retro cyberpunk dystopian atmosphere with five distinct zones, each with their own unique challenges.
There are five playable characters to choose from, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. As the player ascends, they will be able to upgrade their character, equip new weapons, and even choose new buffs or weaknesses.
The game features a beautiful cyberpunk analog-synth soundtrack inspired by the music of the ’80s and ’90s that will follow the player everywhere through the tower.
The future may be black, but the path out of 1988 is through the tower and its AI wardens
As a roguelike death is always an inevitability; but it is also part of the progression. When the player dies, their score is tallied, equipment discarded, but the experience of ascending the tower is spread to the next character who is deployed up the tower’s verticality.
Each of the five zones ends in a gigantic 2D boss battle filled with neon bullets and vertical fights. The AI Wardens each have their own unique combat style that must be learned to defeat them. This means death is almost a certainty the first few times they’re faced, which means coming up the tower with a new – and better equipped – survivor.
Each death means more knowledge, more skills, and a better idea of what awaits.
To keep things fresh, the game also offers daily challenges. Every day that the player logs into BF88 a new challenge is generated with unique attributes designed to test player acumen and skill. Playing these challenges will even show how their skills compare to other players on the daily leaderboard.
Black Future ’88 released on Nov. 21, 2019, and is available for Nintendo Switch, Microsoft Windows PCs, MacOS, and Linux.