Freedom Planet combines the solid and fast fun from the original Sonic games with new and invigorating speed-based mechanics, and an overall enjoyable story, to make a nostalgic and fun platforming experience.
Platforms: Wii U (reviewed) and PC
Freedom Planet is a game that is clearly inspired by the platforming classics of old. What started as a Sonic fangame evolved into a refreshingly memorable platformer, that takes the best inspired elements, and combines them with its own interesting ideas.
Freedom Planet‘s plot is surprisingly detailed for a platformer. The game’s story is told through voiced-cutscenes, which revolves around the game’s three playable characters: Lilac the Dragon, Carol the Wildcat, and Milla the Basset Hound. The story begins when an alien named Torque lands on Earth, and is saved from a villainous snake by Lilac. The team learns from Torque that an evil warlord, Lord Brevon, has crash-landed on the planet, and intends to steal a priceless relic to power his ship. Torque explains that Brevon destroyed countless planets, and will continue to do so if he manages to leave Earth. This inspires Lilac and her friends to do whatever it takes to stop Brevon, and his evil ambitions.
The plot develops as the player progresses, but it never becomes too confusing. New characters and environments are introduced constantly, but they mostly add to the game’s narrative in a way that avoids becoming clunky. The only issue with the story is that there are a couple of characters that don’t fit into the narrative as well as most of them do. In particular, Spade’s inclusion felt odd for a character, as he never did much outside of the occasional angsty appearance.
Nonetheless, most of the characters are all likeable enough, as they’re all diverse and interesting. Lilac is determined and intelligent, while Carol is energetic and friendly. Each main character has their own personality and motivation, which goes a long way to making the story engaging. The story is around five hours long, and can be played with each character. Certain characters have exclusive levels, depending on where they are in the story, which allows for added replayability.
Freedom Planet‘s gameplay is heavily inspired by the Genesis Sonic games, though it appears to have hints of inspiration from Sonic Rush and the Mega Man X series too. It plays remarkably well, with each character having their own unique playstyle. Lilac shoots herself through the air, Carol drives a motorbike and hop up walls similar to Mega Man X, and Milla flies in a way that’s reminiscent of Sonic characters like Tails and Cream. The characters are all fun to play as, since each one challenges the player to take a different approach.
The game has two main modes: Adventure and Classic. Adventure lets players experience the game’s story, while Classic mode has you going through all the game’s stages without cutscenes or story pieces. This is a great way to add replayability to the game, since it allows players to run through levels without interruption on additional playthroughs.
As players run, jump and fly through Freedom Planet’s numerous levels, they’ll notice that enhanced speed is more of a reward than a right, like in the classic Sonic games. By playing well, players will be able to blaze through one of the many paths in the level. The sense of speed and exhilaration that comes from this is especially enjoyable when playing as Carol, as her motorbike scales walls and hops around certain points throughout; this gives the player a feeling of unstoppable speed. The only issue I found here was that the levels feel just a bit too long, at least on the first playthrough. With each level normally lasting at least ten minutes, the game begins to unnecessarily drag a bit.
The visuals are astounding, thanks to the remarkable sprite-work and beautiful Eastern theme that the game adopts. Each character features an impressive amount of detail, both when standing still and moving across a stage. The stages are dazzling, giving off their own colorful and memorable atmospheres.
The cutscenes are also impressive. Although they’re composed of the game’s sprites talking to one another, there are nice looking locations that can only be found in these. Many cutscenes have unique effects and character movements, which shows how much effort GalaxyTrail put into the conveyance of the story.
Freedom Planet‘s sound is all around fantastic.. The game emanates an air of nostalgia, with a very Sega Genesis-like sound, minus the iconic tinniness. Every level has its own track that compliments the environment around the player. The Fortune Night track is subtly energetic, with a very fitting Eastern undertone, while the Final Dreadnought stages ramp up the intensity with each phase. The songs allow each stage an extra layer of life, which only adds to the game’s wonderful atmosphere.
The voice work is also great, as each voiceover fits its character perfectly. Lilac sounds strong and confident, while Milla is kind and naive. Brevon’s voice in particular stands out, giving off a calculating, and powerful presence that makes the player believe he’s a feared galactic warlord.
The Final Word
Freedom Planet is a thoroughly enjoyable throwback to some of the industry’s most iconic platformers. It uses these inspirations to create a varied and original platformer, with a surprisingly detailed story. Despite a couple of questionable additions, Freedom Planet is worthy of its comparison to most classic Sonic games.
MonsterVine Rating: 4 out of 5 – Good