At its core, Black Market is a game about interstellar commodity hauling and trading. But this doesn’t do the experience justice, as I found that the story made it one of the most satisfying gaming experiences I’ve had in a long time.
Black Market is essentially a flash game, but plays very well despite this. Controls are responsive, and though you’re generally only using the mouse, it doesn’t feel like you’re being held back as a result. Combat between ships is pretty simple, you select your weapon and then click on the enemy ships. There’s some skill involved, but it’s mostly about having a bigger ship, and knowing when to run away. Still, the graphics and effects make make lasering your enemies pretty enjoyable, even after the fiftieth time you do it. The other main aspect of the game is commodities trading, which again thanks to the interface, is pretty easy but still quite fun. Commodities are colour coded according to the price they’re trading at relative to their base value, which makes it very easy to turn a profit if you always buy low and sell high. What makes the system more interesting is that each world generally has commodities that are illegal there, which can result in search and seizure by the authorities. Random events will also influence what can be traded, and at what price.
Where Black Market really shines is the story. The characters, setting, dialogue, and plot all contribute to an excellently crafted world which I found fascinating to explore. It’s often rare that you find a game (or even book, for that matter) which combines original ideas with interesting characters and a gripping plot. Usually you’re lucky to get two out of three. I would love to go into greater detail, but I think that a lot of the pleasure is in discovery, so I’ll leave it at that. I don’t think I could endorse it much more heavily anyway.
While the game isn’t overly challenging, it still manages to be fun, and the storyline gives you something to work towards throughout. Check it out here, or pick it up on Gamersgate.