When Kickstarter user GalaxyTrail / Strife posted the funding campaign for his game, entitled “Freedom Planet,” he seemed to be already aware that some might call it a “Sonic the Hedgehog” clone, because he put it in the Q&A section of the Kickstarter. And while I can see some concern in that field, what I’ve played of “Freedom Planet,” (which isn’t the full version, by the way), I can safely say that it is a fun, fast-paced platformer that’s only similarity to the 90s classic is its style of gameplay.
The story of “Freedom Planet,” according to the Kickstarter, is thus:
“The ruthless warlord known as Lord Brevon has crash landed on the world of Avalice. His surviving crew learns of three nearby kingdoms – the water city of Shuigang, the forest metropolis of Shang Mu, and the sky nation of Shang Tu - that are powered by an artifact known as the Kingdom Stone. Brevon sets in motion a sinister plan to manipulate the three kingdoms into attacking each other, knowing that when they are weakened, he can take the stone and use it to repair his dreadnought.
Meanwhile, two young girls, Lilac and Carol, are on their way to the annual pilgrimage to the Kingdom Stone – not to pay tribute, but to steal money from the rich so that they can continue to live by themselves in their treehouse. Along the way, they notice an airplane falling from the sky! They race across the valley to rescue the pilot, Torque the Shellduck. Little do they know that Torque is the only one who knows about Brevon’s plan, and he cannot stop him alone…”
When I first started up this version of the game, I was met with a very interesting title screen. Not only is it a throwback to the classic title screens of lore, but it features a planet in the background that has a moon revolving around it as you stall, which was pretty intuitive. The music throughout the menu, and choosing a mode and level to play is really thought provoking, featuring simplistic yet catchy melodies throughout.
While ‘Adventure’ mode was currently unavailable to me, I decided to play ‘Time Attack’ mode, because I have always been good at those. By the way, that was sarcasm, and it shows, because it took me 11 minutes to get through the first level (8-9 on the second try with Carol). But that’s not the point. What matters is that the first level I played as Lilac (voiced by Dawn Bennett), feels like a level that you’ve always wanted to play, but you’ve never known it.
“Dragon Valley” is a canyon-esque level, where the music and overall play-ability makes you feel like you’re in an adventure worth having. Lilac has the ability to perform a “cyclone” type move, which helps her to achieve those heights that you just couldn’t reach before. Also wielding the ability to perform a rush technique, you will never be bored while playing as this character. You thought “Metal Gear Solid 4” having the “Remember to take a break from playing” messages in between chapters was cool? Well, if you sit still for too long as Lilac, she’ll reprimand you for wasting time, saying such things as “Come on!” and “Do you WANT to get a bad time?!” which I felt was an amazing touch, especially since I wasn’t expecting it whatsoever.
Playing as Carol (voiced by Amanda Lott) was also interesting. For me, she lost health a lot easier due to me being used to Lilac’s cyclone and dash attacks, but she has her own perks as well. For example, she can scale walls using cat-like climbing abilities, and her special ability includes using her claws to decimate opponents. One thing that I noticed whilst playing as Carol, which was also something that I suppose was available as Lilac, is that at some point while playing “Dragon Valley,” you’re able to ride a MOTORCYCLE through the level. No, seriously, you get to ride a MOTORCYCLE. That was something that I really found intuitive and something I really enjoyed while playing.
Milla (voiced by Aimee Smith) is a character who, given what I could guess from the resources that I have, isn’t directly involved in the main story like Lilac and Carol are, because their levels for ‘Time Attack’ are different. Granted, this is based on a guess, but it seems likely that she’ll be on a different path than the other two available characters. Milla is able to use her ears to fly, but only for a short time, then she’ll lose strength and fall. She has the ability to form green blocks that she uses as projectile weapons, and then she can form a shield-like object which does harm to enemies as well. Her first level, “Aqua Tunnel,” is pretty cool because it features bouncy green blobs that Milla can use to propel herself into the air, as well as water currents that send her shooting through the level’s barriers. Oh, and like Lilac, Milla has some interesting phrases when you sit too long, such as “is someone staring at me?!” which I found pretty funny.
The boss battles in the ‘Time Attack’ mode were very interesting, and really took a lot of serious grit to beat, despite them being simple in nature. I can only imagine how they’ll look and feel in the full version. While the levels and boss battles in general are unique, their difficulty reminds me of the difficulty of the “Sonic” games, if only because it takes a lot of rage for me to beat them usually. While “Freedom Planet” isn’t as difficult as “Sonic,” it comes close, which is why I even mention it.
An added bonus is in a level called “Shang Mu Academy,” where, in a throwback to “Super Smash Bros.,” you are tasked with hitting and destroying the targets in various difficult trials through the academy. While this isn’t as challenging as the main levels, it serves as a break from the tension and lets you just go wild on some inanimate targets.
Overall, I am extremely excited for what “Freedom Planet” has to show us come next year. It’s a breath of fresh air when a game developer isn’t afraid to make a simple game with likable characters and utilize that sense of adventure that only comes with games that you can wrap yourself in as you play them. I am expecting a lot from “Freedom Planet,” and I’m positive that GalaxyTrail won’t let me down. Be sure to check out the game on IndieDB and on Steam Greenlight, and be sure to support the creators by purchasing the title when it releases!