A classic gem from the Sega Genesis days. A relic from a time long ago that embodies what's good with the console. It even looks better than most Genesis games. Definitely one that should be remembered.
Wait, what do you mean this came out 5 months ago? And this is suppose to be an indie game? I thought indies were incapable of making good retro style platformers.
In all seriousness, this game is an absolute gem. Combining elements from Sonic, Megaman, and Gunstar Heros, Freedom Planet manages to make an amazing experence that will make old school Genesis fans smile. What started as a Sonic fangame, the guys over at GalaxyTrail decided that this game was better off as it's own thing, and my god, it was the best decision they could have made. This might make you think it's a Sonic clone at first glance, but trust me, it's anything but. This review is going to be quite legnthy, so if you don't want to read it, skip to the bottom.
Freedom Planet is a fast paced game with combat mechanics. When you aren't blazing through the level at high speeds, you're either fighting enemies or solving puzzles. To help to the more combat oriented gameplay, you have a health bar in the form of red petals(it's an element many people tend to miss at first). Unlike other platformers, you don't get hurt when you touch an enemy, only taking damage if you're hit be an attack, and rarely any bottomless pits. There are also several different kinds of shields, akin to Sonic 3. Each one either makes you immune to certain attacks or grants some other effect. One thing I should really note are the boss fights. Ranging from huge machines to rivals that are about your size, they are a ton of fun to fight. Something that I feel recent playformer games have been lacking.
There are 2 characters that you can play as from the start, with another that is unlockable and more to come as free DLC. Each character is unique in that they have very different playstyles, changing how you do each level, and even having some exclusive levels. For the purpose of this review, I'll only go over the 2 from the start.
Lilac the dragon(yes, that purple girl is a dragon) is a more speed focused character. While not as fast as Sonic, she can still go through a level really fast. She has the more varied moves of the bunch, being punches, drop kicks, uppercuts, a twirl move that allows you to gain air to make wide gaps, and a dragon boost that allows Lilac to blaze past enemies and reach higher elevations.
Carol the wildcat is more combat focused. While she isn't as fast a Lilac, she makes up for it by having faster attacks, a rapid kick that allows her to hit targets multiple times, and the ability to wall jump. Her main draw, however, is her motorbike. By finding a gas can anywhere in the level, Carol pulls out a motorbike that not only allows her to go as fast as Lilac, but can defy the laws of physics, like being able to climb up ladders and walls. It can only take a few hits before blowing up, so take good care of it.
When you start up the main game, you will be given the option to play either Adventure mode or Classic. Adventure plays fully voiced cutscenes between levels and enables dialouge exchanges between characters and setpeices during missions, while Classic just skips all of that and lets you play the game. I recommend you play Adventure mode at least once as Lilac in order to get the story.
One thing to note, though, is that the game gets pretty difficult on the later levels. Unless you're really good at platformers, you're going to lose a few lives here and there. (spoiler:You will get a game over at the final boss
). Thankfully, the game lets you tone down the difficulty if you're having a hard time, but if you're stubborn like most players out there, you're gonna want to stick through it to the end.
An alien warlord crashes his battle cruiser onto your home planet, leaving him and his army stranded there. In order to get his ship off the ground, he needs a ton of energy. He thus turns his attention to the Kingdom Stone, a powerfull gem that gives power to the entire planet. You pretty much have to stop him from getting it.
Now, that might sound happy and go-lucky, but make no mistake, the cutscenes can get pretty dark and brutal. Not enough to get it an M rating, but definitely not something I would let my 7 year old nephew play (Unless you let him watch R rated movies, then go ahead). The gameplay itself is kid friendly, so just have him play Classic mode.
As I said, the game has fully voiced cutscenes and dialouge exchanges during the levels. The voice acting is either hit or miss for most people. Personally, I think Carol's voice could use some work and the end level voice clips tend to get a tad cringy, but I like most of it.
The one quipe I have with the story, though, is that the cutscenes kinda tend to drag on longer than they need to. While this isn't a major pace killer for me, it can be for a lot of people. Thankfully the characters themselves are interesting enough to keep the story moving. Again, if you aren't interested in the story, just play Classic mode.
GalaxyTrail did some amazing work with pixel art in the game. The game looks very pleasing on the eye, with beautiful backgrounds and nicely animated sprites, all while running very smoothly. It's a wonder how they managed to make it work.
The level design is also really good. Each stage has something unique about it that will make it memorable and fun to play. The levels are structered like Sonic 3, where there are 2 acts with a miniboss at the end of act 1 and the boss at act 2. Unlike the Sonic games, however, there aren't any acts in the game, instead combining them into 1 huge stage. When you defeat the miniboss, the stage transitions into the second part, which is quite different from the first. While this might sound like the levels are too long, they actually hit a sweet spot. They're long enough keep you entertained, but short enough to not overstay it's welcome.
The sound design is decent. The audio mixing to pretty good and the sound effects fit the game just fine. There are a few stock sounds here and there, but I can forgive it.
The one thing I want to give special attention to is the soundtrack. This game has fast, energetic, and overall catchy music that is very easy to get stuck in your head. Here are a couple of examples:Dragon Valley
Fortune Night part 1
and part 2Jade Creek
If you have a few extra dollars on you, I recommend you buy the soundtrack.
Overall, this game is fantastic.
- + Fun gameplay that has characters with different playstyles
- + Great level design that keeps things fresh, with nice visuals to compliment
- + Very noteworthy soundtrack that is worth buying itself
- = Voice acting is either hit or miss
- = Later levels and bosses get really difficult
- - Cutscenes tend to go on for a little too long
- ! For god's sake, this is NOT a Sonic clone!
If you are a big platformer fan, or want to get a burst of nostalgia, you definitely want to pick up this game. If you read through this review(or summery) and still think this is a Sonic clone, you are doing youself a criminal disservice. It's a shame this game doesn't get enough attention, it really does need it.
Just buy the game. There's even a demo
you can try if you're still not convinced. Otherwise, there's little other reason to not buy it.