If you didn’t fund the project on KickStarter, Freedom Planet is a nostalgia inspired throwback to the mascot platformers that filled the video game market in the 1990’s. It follows the adventures of three young freedom fighters who are attempting to bring peace to their shattered home world that has been taken over by a ruthless alien overlord. The group is led by Lilac, a justice driven dragon who uses her whip-like hair and cyclone based abilities to defeat her foes. Joining her for the adventure are Carol, a spunky wildcat that can summon a gravity defying motorcycle, and use her fighting abilities to defend her friends. Rounding off the playable roster is Milla, a naïve dog like character who can dig her way out of any situation, and use her ears to float around in the air.
Each character has twelve levels that they can go through, each with multiple paths to complete them, and unique gimmicks that can only be activated by a certain individual. There are two ways to play the main game. There is the Adventure Mode, in which you get story based sequences in between the action based levels. If you are not a fan of animated cut scenes and want the true 16 bit experience, then you can choose to play the Classic Mode, which will omit them altogether. It is currently not possible to use Milla in the Adventure Mode at present, but this will be included in a future DLC update, which Galaxy Trail have confirmed will be completely free.
The areas that you travel through borrow from familiar themes, such as the ice world, casinos and hidden temples in the middle of the woods. As well as the gimmicks I mentioned earlier, each level has specific items, puzzles and mechanics that can only be found in a specific location, such as ramp based bridges to ride across, and weighted blocks or key cards that can used to open the path to the next part of the stage. These broke up the action quite nicely, allowing the high speed sections to be exhilarating, rather than a constant feature that could easily become a tiring chore. As well as the standard attacks for each character, several pickups are scattered throughout the worlds, such as shields that defend against certain threats, tokens that increase your life count, and sparkling crystals that will give you temporary invincibility. These power ups have been seen many times before in different forms, but this is by no means a criticism. In fact they have become a staple of the genre, so it would be unusual for them to be absent from the proceedings. It would have been nice to see a few variations on the types of items you can collect, but this is only a minor chink in the armour.
If you are looking for game that offer you a challenge, then Freedom Planet offers this to its audience in spades. The first level deceives you into thinking that this is not the case, with a fairly simple boss to complete the proceedings. Once you have passed the initial area, the game ramps up the difficulty level, with some bosses requiring several lives before I could complete them. There is the option to reduce the difficulty in the main menu, but no matter which you decide to undertake, no player will miss out on what Freedom Planet has to offer. A consequence of changing the difficulty is that some attacks and weaknesses are limited or removed on the higher settings.
The only complaint I would have to make is that the game offers unlimited continues. While I can understand the reasoning behind this choice, it doesn’t keep with the feel of the generation it is trying to emulate, where you sometimes had to complete entire sections of the game to reach the point of the game where you achieved a game over scenario. If you were expecting a chip tune style soundtrack to accompany this game, then you will not be disappointed. Freedom Planet stays true to its intended roots and offers a range of different styles such as fast paced action tunes, slower beats for the dramatic moments and the obligatory celebration jingle at the end of each level. There are a few blips on the radar with regard to each area but generally, they feel appropriate for the situation they are in. A minor problem with the audio is that the volume can change considerably without warning, with some of the more important tracks being a lot quieter than I expected, particularly the stage clear tune.
Overall, Freedom Planet is the game that fans of 16 bit action have been waiting for. With three playable characters to choose from, as well as a varied and interesting soundtrack, this is a game that you will be returning to time and again, and not just because you lost your last life on one of the numerous boss battles. It does have some faults, but whether you are an older gamer looking to revisit your past, or a newer gamer that wants to take a psychedelic history lesson, then Freedom Planet is your ticket to retro themed paradise.