Alright, Super Bowl weekend! A time for people to eat loads of greasy food, watch ads which will be overplayed a week later or have already leaked, and try to develop telepathy so they can share their inebriated plans and opinions with the professional athletes who are on the field. There’s also the half-time show… Let’s look at a short demo you can play while that goes on, shall we?
Freedom Planet is a game by Galaxy Trail that tells the story of two anthropomorphic girls, Lilac the Dragon Girl and Carol the Wildcat, who must save the world of Avalice from Lord Brevon, a ruthless warlord who seeks to turn Avalice’s countries against one another so he can steal the planet’s most valuable prize: The Kingdom Stone. The game is a side-scrolling platformer that pays homage to classic games like Sonic the Hedgehog and Gunstar Heroes but also adds in animated cutscenes and voice acting. The game has been in development for some time and has run a successful KickStarter campaign and is currently trying to get Greenlit on Steam. The game is due out next February, but there is a demo available that lets you play through the two time attack levels and unlock a mini-game if you do well.
I’ll admit, I’m not a big Sonic fan but Freedom Planet is a game I could get into. Yes, at its core, you’re playing as anthropomorphic animals who are called ‘x’ the ‘animal’ and you race through colorful levels, doing loop-de-loops and bouncing off of bumpers and springs till you reach a boss–but there’s a lot more under its hood. For example, as I stated above, the game takes a page from Gunstar Heroes as well, so in addition to the platforming from Sonic, you get a life meter (represented by a flower’s petals) and a lot of variation in a single level. For example, in the full sample level, you get to run from boulders, swim underwater, and take on a boss that stalks you through the second half of the level. This also means that you get a lot more action since, instead of bouncing into enemies, these girls dispatch their enemies through a good-ole ass-whooping, with Lilac using her greater strength to ram into enemies, while Carol uses her lightning kicks and faster attacks to decimate opponents before hopping on her motorcycle.
The two characters are a of the highlights of this demo. Bringing up Sonic again, the two characters would appear to be copies of Sonic and Knuckles at first (there is a third, unplayable, character called Milla who has the ability to float, dig, and make shields) but there are a couple of differences that show how the developers of Freedom Planet have put a twist on some of the old formulas. For example, Lilac has a meter that, when full, lets you pull off special moves like ricocheting off of walls or spinning like a top, while Carol can wall-slide, doesn’t require a full meter to pull off moves, and can take out a freaking motorcycle if she finds gas tanks in a level. What’s better is that each character has unique animations, like the strained look Carol gives when you try to lug around her motorcycle when she’s jumping from barbell to barbell. Like Sonic & Knuckles, the levels contain different ways for the characters to traverse the areas, with Carol being more dependent on the environment than Lilac, though her increased maneuverability allows her to get through areas that Lilac couldn’t, which is a credit to the design ability of the developers.
Speaking of design, the boss fight you have in the demo is very well crafted. While the core idea behind the fight is quite simple, it does one thing that made me smile: the fight takes place in a looped, ‘O’ shaped, room. While that may seem like a simple idea, it transforms what could have been a ho hum fight into a much tenser fight that has you dodging attacks by running around on the ceiling.
Speaking of running around in loops, the physics engine on the game is utilized very well, as exhibited by the second stage, which is a collection of “hit the target” missions. In this stage, you get to see the benefits of each character firsthand and try out some of the engine’s funner aspects, such as bouncing off of walls and jumping from one loop to another.
Now, there are problems but I feel it is unfair to judge the game negatively because of them. For example, while I had no trouble setting up my wired Afterglow 360 controller, there have been some reports of gamepad control issues. Also, while I do like the colorful art, I hope the full game will make the character models a bit more distinct from the background. Then again, this demo was just to let backers know what they are giving into and to show that Galaxy Trail knows what they’re doing when it comes to making games.
Overall, I think Freedom Planet is a fun game that deserves your time. While the demo only offers a fraction of what will be in the full game when it gets released next year, it shows a lot of promise. So, give the game a shot, enjoy the fast-paced gameplay and decide for yourself if you want to support the project by getting into Greenlight’s top 100 (as of Wednesday, it only needed 2,000 more votes) or chipping a few bucks towards its Kickstarter Campaign (a donation of $10 or more nets you the game upon its release).
Game can be found HERE