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Review: Freedom Planet

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Have you ever played a game that's so good that you want to tell everyone about it? Something that's beautifully designed, hits all of the right buttons, and makes you feel like you're a rock star whenever you play it because of how gracefully your button presses transfer into character movement?

While it's certainly not without its flaws, I think Freedom Planet is one of the best such examples of that kind of game.Posted Image

Have you ever played a game that's so good that you want to tell everyone about it? Something that's beautifully designed, hits all of the right buttons, and makes you feel like you're a rock star whenever you play it because of how gracefully your button presses transfer into character movement?

While it's certainly not without its flaws, I think Freedom Planet is one of the best such examples of that kind of game.

Out of the ashes of a Sonic fangame comes Freedom Planet, a game with gameplay that's not dissimilar to Sonic, but adds about a zillion layers of new stuff that improve on the polished gameplay style.

So let's get started.

Gameplay

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Gameplay in Freedom Planet is fairly fast-paced and combat-oriented. Think a faster variant of the various "classic modes" or the Subspace Emissary of the Smash Bros. series, and you'll have a good idea of how to play. In typical Sega Genesis style, the game needs only a directional pad and four buttons: Start, A, B, and C. A jumps, B produces a regular attack, and C is a special attack, which is different per character.

Each character has their own strengths and weaknesses, but I found the best gameplay style in Lilac, a purple, um, dragon (that's what the game calls her, not me). She has a powerful dash attack that not only makes you go much faster, but also deals heavy damage to all enemies in your path for a short while.

The other characters, Carol and Milla, have some intriguing things to bring to the table as well. Carol is normally fairly slow, but can pick up her motorcycle left near various gas cans located throughout the level. Since she also has some ninja training that allows her to jump high and cling to walls, so long as you're jumping off a red panel. It's not unlike the cling-and-jump mechanic introduced in Sonic Adventure and also used in Sonic '06. Milla, on the other hand, is extremely slow, has a slow basic attack that barely deals any damage, and her special attack consists of creating green cubes out of nowhere to throw at enemies. Her gameplay is easily the weakest in the game - it's no wonder, then, that she's not playable in the normal story mode, and you have to go into the game's story-less Classic mode to play as her.

Bosses are brilliantly executed and fun to play against and destroy. Some bosses are character bosses, where you fight a character important to the storyline, other bosses are just constructs or robots that may or may not have been made by any of the bad guys in the story.

Really, if the gameplay doesn't win you over, I have to think that you're just allergic to fun.

Graphics & Audio

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I can't dance around this: If you're not fond of the pixel art style used in several indie games, the art style of Freedom Planet probably won't appeal to you. It is, effectively, a Sega Saturn-style 2D game with a limited color palette reminiscent of the Sega Genesis, for all of the good and bad that means.

That said, there's no denying that if you do like that style, this game takes all of the detail and beauty that you might expect this style to be able to pull off and does it well. Environments are richly detailed, backgrounds are expansive, enemies and your player character are vibrantly animated; in fact, the level of animation in this game did occasionally give me a vibe of Metal Slug or Shantae, two games that are pretty well known for their good animation.

The music, though, is music that is utterly fantastic in every sense of the word. Unlike the graphics, GalaxyTrail didn't constrain themselves to the limits of classic game consoles. I have several tracks I'm personally fond of, but I would say it's a good idea to get the whole soundtrack on Steam or Bandcamp if you like the game.

The sound effects are good and punch well for the kind of combat game this is. Charging up the boost as Lilac is particularly satisfying. And the voice acting is surprisingly not terrible - it's by no means professional-quality, but it's extremely natural-sounding, and that's a really hard standard to reach for voice acting. The voice of the main bad guy, Lord Brevon, in particular, is absolutely chilling.

Story

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Hoo boy. This is easily the weakest point in Freedom Planet aside from the gameplay of Milla. While it's not horrible, per se, it's certainly a bit over-serious.

The game starts - before even taking you to the title screen, I might add - with a shot of a mansion that's referred to as Shuigang Palace on Planet Avalice. A tall green obviously bad guy named Lord Brevon marches into Shuigang Palace and murders the king of Shuigang. No, seriously, look:

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Yeah, Brevon literally beheads the king, and I might add, right in front of the prince. Brevon, being the most evil he can be, figures it's no big deal and somehow gets the prince on his side.

Turns out Brevon and his goons are after the Kingdom Stone, the source of power on the planet Avalice. Cut to a spaceship crashing in Dragon Valley, home to the aforementioned Lilac and Carol. Lilac immediately thinks to check on the pilot of the spaceship to see if he's okay, and Carol begrudgingly follows her.

The pilot of the spaceship turns out to be okay. His name is Torque. He's ostensibly a turtle-duck. He was chasing after Brevon trying to keep him from the Kingdom Stone. The bulk of the story in Freedom Planet is assisting Torque in keeping Brevon away from the Kingdom Stone.

That's not terrible on its own, but the pacing of the game is quite simply terrible. In most cases, you play a huge fifteen-minute level only to be greeted by about ten minutes in cutscenes before you can play the next fifteen-minute level. I'm not saying huge story segments are bad - I mean, Metal Gear Solid has had a worse gameplay-to-cutscene ratio for years - but most of it is character development and very, very little action. That's a little dry for an action game.

Fortunately, if you don't particularly care for the story, there is a classic mode that truncates all but the most important parts of the plot. It's still very easy to construct a plot from your imagination through Classic Mode.

I would, however, recommend playing through the story at least once; the writing does have its very high points where I chuckle like I did at the writing in Sonic Colors. Overall, though, this isn't a game you'll be playing for its story.

The Bottom Line

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Freedom Planet is really, really good. It's a beautifully-constructed game with a huge focus on actually fun gameplay and rich, beautiful environments. If you can get past the somewhat over-serious story, you'll find a game that's as much a love letter to Sega Genesis fans as Shovel Knight was to NES fans.

Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux (via Steam, beta only for Mac OS X and Linux), Wii U (planned).

Steam: http://store.steampo...com/app/248310/

To get the Mac or Linux versions, you must subscribe to the beta channel for Freedom Planet.

Test Hardware: Lenovo IdeaPad P500 Touch (Core i5 model) running Windows 8.1

Click here to view the article

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I have been waiting for retro game review like thisw . but i dont even got mobile , how can i play this ? planetemu ?

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It's only on Steam for now, it's not a mobile game. The link to it is at the bottom of the post.

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Great review. I was wondering what this game was all about when I saw it on Steam a few weeks ago, and I'm surprised you gave it such high markings. So this used to be a Sonic fan game? Does that mean that it plays similar to the old Sonic games? I'm guessing that if you loved it that much that I'll probably end up loving it too. The soundtrack is incredible from the little I've heard so far. Too bad about the story and pacing, but I guess there shouldn't even really be a story connected to a game like this in the first place, in the nature of classic Genesis games.
 

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It does have similarities to the old Sonic games, but it's a lot more combat-oriented, hence why I compared it to The Subspace Emissary. It plays a little slower than Sonic, especially on the characters besides Lilac, but it's still got a lot of fast segments.

Thing is, though, no matter how fast it gets, Freedom Planet makes sure you know that you're in control. The fact that I felt so in control and I always knew what to do next (except in the case of bosses, which are sometimes hard as balls) contributed a lot to making this game a nearly perfect platformer.

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