Freedom Planet is an adventure/platforming game very reminiscent of Sonic the Hedgehog & the Sega Genesis days. This title in fact did originally have its roots as a Sonic fan game eventually changing to what it is today. You play as 1 of 3 anthropomorphic animals protagonists: Lilac the dragon, Carol the wildcat or Milla the dog. Each plays differently, Lilac being more of a speedster, Carol the brawler & Milla being more technical. You will traverse various locales ranging from a desert to nighttime river vistas to Chinese inspired areas, all in order to stop Lord Brevon & his plan of galactic conquest.
The story is rather simple & told in a way reminiscent of Sunday morning cartoons, it is at a fast pace & straight to the point. It has its drama & cheesy dialogue & while not groundbreaking it is not outright terrible. To those that don’t care to play through the story, the game has the option of letting you play without all that extra fluff if you so choose right off the bat from the character select screen. Every line is voice acted & well, it is not amazing. Some characters I would have rather they stop talking, others could have been louder & others were just ok. Music, on the other hand, is top notch. Where they dropped the ball with voice acting the music picks right up. Each level has its own track & as you traverse each map of each level, the music adds subtle changes to it adding to the excitement.
The other aspect of the game, combat, is also well done. Each character plays differently, having a unique directional attack akin to Super Smash Bros. as well as regular attacks. A health bar & a stamina round out similarities. The health bar as expected measures the amounts of hits you can take before kicking the bucket. There are a few difficulty modes to choose from, Casual having health regen & Hard just plain kicking your ass. On Normal difficulty, the one I played through , as you get deeper into the game enemies will deal more & more damage & health pick-ups will be harder to find. This wouldn’t be as annoying if you had some invincibility frames after getting hit since you will certainly lose chunks of health if you get caught in a beam attack. The game counters this lack of i-frames on hit by having most enemies lack a hitbox so you can safely stand ‘inside’ them & some of the directional attacks i-frames but the catch is that they run on Stamina.
The Stamina bar is an interesting addition to the game, though not without flaws. As mentioned you can gain invulnerability from attacks which is a neat thing to take advantage of in boss battles & certainly the game expects you to take advantage of these as you exploit boss patterns to kick their ass but outside of them it can slow down the game at times. Lilac, for example, has a dash very much like Sonic but this runs on the stamina & once drained you cannot dash again until it refills, which can take a few seconds. This adds up time after time if you, like me, manage to fudge up areas where you need the dash to move on. Not a deal breaker for the entirety of game & I certainly wish it would have been tweaked a bit more but certainly annoying.
Level design is fairly standard akin to 2D Sonic games. Its beautiful locales such as the nighttime scenes of Jade Creek, Fortune Market’s Chinese inspired streets, etc. are pretty expansive & much like the music as you traverse through them, the areas will change as you go, never staying with one backdrop for too long. The bigger flaw being their size, levels do tend to drag on for a fair while. As you dash, jump or solve minor puzzles throughout the maps, you have the expected platformer game pick ups, in this case blue crystals, giving you a 1-Up whenever 200 of these are collected, various colored shields their color indicating what side effect they confer for example the blue one letting you breath underwater & the red shield dealing passive damage to enemies that get too close. Other picks ups include a Tao which grants a bonus room at the end of the level & Cards which unlock the music tracks in the main menu.
All in all, Freedom Planet is an enjoyable game with some slightly annoying flaws that is best played in short bursts. Its voice acting & story are average, gameplay having some hiccups but it can certainly be challenging & has a damn good soundtrack that soothed my moments of saltiness whenever I got my ass kicked by a boss. It is certainly worth it picking up & with the amount of times it has gone on sale or been bundled, one sure can do a whole lot worse than Freedom Planet, especially if you are looking to scratch that high-speed platformer itch.
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