I was caught off guard when one of my Twitter followers asked me about Blacknut Cloud Gaming. I had never heard of it and very rarely is it that I have not heard of a gaming product. Naturally, I decided I had to give it a try and review it for the masses. The results were very mixed.
Blacknut Cloud Gaming Pros and Cons
I see a lot of potential in Blacknut Cloud Gaming, but at the time of writing this there are some major flaws in the service.
The biggest positive to Blacknut Cloud Gaming is you can play it on anything including an Amazon Fire Stick, Android phone, Android Tablet, Iphone, Ipad, a ten year old desktop and modern computer. It is the only cloud gaming service that I have tested, including Xbox Gamepass, that I actually play smoothly on a cell phone through a 4g connection.
The first two things I noticed when I first tried Blacknut Cloud Gaming were the input lag was pretty good and the graphics massively downscale to maintain FPS. More on both of these later.
Blacknut has a large selection of games, however, most of the titles are older. Blacknut does not support online multiplayer but contains a large selection games with a couch co-op option.
Some of the main negatives of Blacknut Cloud Gaming include games that won’t load, random game crashes, input lag still too high for some games, and during fast gameplay scenes graphics may downscale enough to make a game unplayable.
There are six main games I attempted to play on Blacknut’s service for this test. I will go over my initial experience with Blacknut gaming and my experience with each game I attempted to play.
Blacknut Cloud Gaming Initial Experience
My initial experience with Blacknut Cloud Gaming was frustrating. While most of this frustration was caused by my own mistake, I have a suggestion for the creators of Blacknut to help others avoid this same frustration.
When initially trying to load games on my PC, I went to the Blacknut website, clicked on a game, and clicked on the big button that said PLAY. After doing so, it would say the game was pending, and the loading ring would turn until it appeared fully loaded, after which nothing happened.
I looked at the site more and eventually found a place where you were able to download the PC app. With other Cloud gaming services running straight through browser, the game appearing to be loading, and the windows app not in an obvious place, my initial impression was the service didn’t work.
I would recommend that the developers move the Download PC App button onto the main screen and near the top. That way it is almost impossible to miss.
Game Test: Ryse: Son of Rome
Ryse: Son of Rome was the first game I tested. I tested it both on Android phone through 4g signal and on an i5-2500k with a GTX750.
Ryse: Son of Rome ran almost identically on these devices. Of all the games I tested, Ryse ran the best. While it was easy to see significant graphical downscaling, the controls felt responsive, and the gameplay experience felt decent.
The game crashed and exited three times during my roughly 5 hours of playtime. Every crash that occurred happened on the PC version of Blacknut Gaming.
While not a perfect experience, it was, at a minimum, decent. At this point in my journey my impression was that this may be a good service for someone with a low powered pc or no pc at all. Blacknut was able to stream to devices that services such as Gamepass struggled with.
Game Test: Aragami
For my second test, I played Aragami. The second test wasn’t quite as smooth as the first. Aragami requires precise controls and very little input lag.
No matter how much I adjusted the controls, they were clunky. I couldn’t get the level of precision needed for Aragami. In addition, while I didn’t notice the input lag in Ryse: Son Of Rome, I massively noticed it in Aragami.
While, from an objective perspective, the input lag was still low, it wasn’t low enough. The clunky controls and the input lag left Aragami virtually unplayable. For reference, I also played Aragami streaming from competing service, and was able to play without any problems.
My opinion of Blacknut Cloud Gaming had dropped a little bit, but I hadn’t given up on it yet!
Game Test: Metro 2033
I was really looking forward to playing Metro 2033 on the Blacknut service. Unfortunately, I never did.
I attempted to load the game three separate times. On each time, the same thing happened.
The loading ring would go 99% around, it would take a 3-5 minute pause, and then give an error loading message.
I was on stream, so after three attempts, I decided it was best to move to a new game.
Game Test: Giana Sisters Twisted Dreams
Giana Sisters Twisted Dreams is another game that relies on very little input lag to be able to successfully complete the game.
Unfortunately, the input lag was just slightly too high to have a smooth gameplay experience.
Between Metro 2033 not loading and Giana Sisters suffering from input lag, my opinion of Blacknut had dropped even lower. I decided to play one more game for the day to hopefully give me a more positive experience.
Game Test: Grip
I decided to try Grip. As a racing game a small amount of input lag shouldn’t make it unplayable. In all reality, I didn’t notice the input lag.
What I did notice is that the game downscaled the graphics so much it looked like I was playing Pole Positive on an Atari 2600 in 1985. As the game went faster, the graphics got worse. Eventually it got to the point I couldn’t tell what was going on and decided to quit for the night.
One more day of game testing left. I was really hoping it provided a positive experience, as it has been a few games since I’d had one on Blacknut.
Game Test: Those Who Remain
Those Who Remain was by far the best experience I had on Blacknut Cloud Gaming. Typically, there isn’t a lot of movement on the screen, so the game didn’t suffer the downscaling graphics.
I didn’t even notice input lag when playing Those Who Remain, but typically movements are relatively slow as Those Who Remain is a horror walking simulator.
Had I only played Ryse: Son of Rome and Those Who Remain I probably would be recommending Blacknut Cloud Gaming. The experience with both of those games was decent to good.
Blacknut Cloud Gaming runs on a family plan price model. For $15.99 up to five family members can play on Blacknut gaming.
While $15.99 is not a bad price for a family plan, I would recommend that Blacknut offers a solo plan as well and prices it around the $10.99 price point.
If you are a single user $15.99 costs more than Gamepass which offers day one releases and a much newer selection of games.
Would I Recommend Blacknut Cloud Gaming?
In its current state, I would not recommend Blacknut Cloud Gaming. I believe they have a lot of potential, but the product is not quite there yet.
At this point if I would recommend Blacknut lower their pricing while they work out their bugs.
General recommendations for Blacknut Cloud Gaming would be:
While input lag is better than some cloud gaming platforms, it needs just a little bit more improvement.
I am not opposed to the graphics downscaling, especially due to the fact that being able to play on older systems is possible, but there has to be a limit where the downscaling stops. In faster paced games, the downscaling can make the game unplayable.
Fix the issues with some games not loading and games having random crashes
Add a price for an individual account for those who do not have a family to share the account with
While there are some issues that make the service not viable currently, this service has a ton of potential. From what I have read, the service has come a long way from where it was a year ago. With just a little bit more improvement, Blacknut Cloud Gaming may be great cloud gaming service.