Originally published November 1st 2015 on the Seafoam Gaming forums
Thanks to GalaxyTrail Games for the review code.
Title: Freedom Planet
System: Wii U (eShop)
Release date: 10/01/2015
The main game/story
Freedom Planet is a 2D platformer, similar to ones from the 16-bit era, where you choose between either Lilac the Dragon or Carol the Wildcat, on their quest to prevent the legendary Kingdom Stone from falling into the hands of evil. While it’s true that the game was planned to be a Sonic fangame at one point, it’s also clear that Freedom Planet has evolved into its own entity, mainly due to the focus on action based platforming while also solving a few minor puzzles along the way, making it feel to me like a fresh new take on the concept of fast-paced action.
Clearly retro in design, but thankfully Freedom Planet is a breath of fresh air in that it’s not yet another 8-bit platformer, instead taking more of an influence from the late 16-bit era to the 32-bit era, with locations looking colorful and vibrant, the sprites being well animated with lots of detail, along with some of the boss and enemy designs being clever in their design. When played in HD thanks to it being on the Wii U, it looks downright amazing, and is by far one of the best retro artstyles I have seen to date due to how pretty everything is in its design.
Music and Sound:
From the moment I heard the title screen music play, I knew I was in for an amazing soundtrack! Composed by just three composers, Freedom Planet’s OST is jaw-dropping, with a lot of instruments similar to those from parts of Asia, (which just so happens to fit the narrative of the story quite well considering the locations the characters go to on their journey) with the serene feel of the soundtrack being reminiscent of some of the best soundtracks from the Turbografx CD systems, with lots of energetic tunes meant to give you the feeling of going on an epic adventure, to more relaxed themes that you could listen to while working or going on a walk outside of the game, this soundtrack absolutely compliments the game well, and is well worth the money to buy the soundtrack by itself. There’s even some voice acting for the characters in the Adventure mode, and they don’t sound half-bad, getting the job done and expressing the proper emotions of the story just how you would expect them to.
When you start up the game, there are several modes to choose from, said modes being Adventure and Classic mode. Adventure mode is the main story-mode with cutscenes during and in-between each level in order to explain what’s currently going on, with voice acting for each of the characters involved. You can still skip these cutscenes if you want to jump past a particular one, but Classic mode is the more optimal way to fix that problem, as it just allows you to play level after level with no cutscenes to interfere at all, just like an ordinary platformer! Regardless of your preference on the game’s story, the gameplay is the same in both of these modes, with the main objective being to get to the end of each stage and defeat the boss before moving onto the next stage. From the start, you can choose between Lilac and Carol, both of which have their own abilities, although they generally have the same ideas in mind when it comes to the stages they go through, with most of the exclusive paths being used to hide secrets only one character can find. (Except in one instance in which Carol and Lilac have their own unique stages) There’s even a secret character to unlock during the course of the game, although she can only be used in Classic mode at the time of this review, it’s still an interesting way to play through the game again if you want a change of pace.
Most people tend to take a look at this game and compare it to the classic Sonic The Hedgehog titles, although when you get to playing it there’s more than meets the eye. As mentioned earlier, the game has an emphasis on exploration and action, with the characters each having their own hidden items to collect in each stage, such as cards that unlock bonus content or extra lives. Each character has their own methods of attacking, and these methods can lead to alternate paths in the levels, although the end results are usually the same. Still, the focus on exploration and action give it its own unique feel, which is refreshing to see, and I enjoyed looking all over for as many cards or gems as I could find, in order to prepare myself for the inevitable boss battle at the end. The levels are rather long and gradually increase in challenge, so the different difficulty settings are there to help you out if you need some more practice, making it a game that’s accessible to everyone while still containing some secrets for hardcore players. There’s even a Time Attack mode if you want to put your speedrunning skills to the test.
In conclusion, Freedom Planet was a pleasant surprise. It’s a gorgeous platformer with plenty of content, taking inspirations from games of the mid-90s in an age where the majority of retro-inspired platformers are based off of the 8-bit era. With an emphasis on story and action, this really is an enjoyable game, and if you are a fan of platformers or the 32-bit era then Freedom Planet is a great game to pick up for the soundtrack and visuals alone. I give Freedom Planet a 9 out of 10.