Freedom Planet has invaded the eShop and now its time for PhantomZ2 to take a dive into Planet Avalice, to see if Freedom Planet is the game for you! Thank you to Marvelous (XSeed) and Galaxy Trail for providing us with a review code!
It is no secret that with the Super Sonic hat on my shelf and my undying love for Sonic Forces over Sonic Mania, that I am indeed a Sonic fan. Not a fan of platformers, but a fan of Sonic. So, when tackled with a new franchise that is inspired by the Blue Blur, its time to see if it can set out to stand on its own. Let’s see what you got Team Lilac, in Freedom Planet for Nintendo Switch! A great thank you to Galaxy Trail and MARVELOUS (XSeed) for providing us with a review code!
Freedom Planet, before we even get to the title screen, gives you a taste of the story this game has, and it is something I wasn’t expecting. We start off at a starry night on Planet Avalice, with the invasion of Shuigang Palace by a galactic furry browed emperor named Lord Brevon. After killing the king of Shuigang and taking control of his son, Dail, we’re introduced to the main artifact that is the cause of the conflict on this planet: The Kingdom Stone. A powerful stone that provides the kingdoms of Avalice with energy is suddenly fading due to the high demand of energy among the kingdoms. To add onto that, the mind-controlled Dail is now also spreading wreckage across Avalice to gather more energy for himself.
After this introduction, and a title screen, we’re introduced to Lilac and Carol being disturbed by a sudden plane crash and checking out the scene to find Serpentine, one of Lord Brevon’s henchmen, attacking a shelduck named Torque. After saving Torque’s life and easily tricking Serpentine by just running behind a rock, they befriend Torque and learn his mission is to protect the Kingdom Stone from being stolen. Taking on the job for him, Lilac and Carol alert General Gong and Neera at the Relic Maze about an upcoming ambush by Mayor Zao of Shang Mu. Instead of listening and taking their word, they do get ambushed and when Lilac and Carol head into the caverns of the Relic Maze – they find that it is being stolen not by Aeon from Final Fantasy Sonic X, I mean Spade. After getting away with the stone, Lilac escapes from the caverns of the Maze and Carol is saved by this weird but cute dog named Milla. After befriending her and a night of watching movies at Lilac’s treehouse, Carol stumbles upon Torque messing with some machinery and realizes he isn’t a shelduck at all. He is, in fact, a Chaser, part of an alliance between many different worlds, and his duty is not only to protect the Kingdom Stone but to destroy it if it falls into Lord Brevon’s hands. Instead of leaving him to his mission, Lilac, Carol, and Milla decide to make his mission their mission and so the adventure begins!
Now, I hope that was easy to understand because Freedom Planet doesn’t really do a great job of introducing characters or ideas. The characters are charming once they’re interacting with one another, but otherwise, they feel very plopped into the story. When Spade is introduced, we only learn that he his most likely Dail’s brother because he refers to looking for his father’s murderer. Even being introduced to Lilac and Carol feels strange as if there really isn’t an introduction to them. The conflict just happens to stumble upon them and they willingly get involved. However, the best character I would say is Lord Brevon. His voice is amazingly chilling, with such dynamic power whenever he speaks. He is a villain brought to life thanks to his voice, and his introduction is perfect because he is an invader. He isn’t meant to be casually introduced, he is meant to be a disturbance to the normalcy of Planet Avalice. If Freedom Planet didn’t have voice acting, with the amount of dialogue this game has, I would absolutely hate it. But the voice acting does a good job of bringing to life the story that it presents.
You can also play the story as Carol and Milla, giving different cutscenes and a different perspective of the events that transpire.
Unlike most standard platformers, Freedom Planet incorporates action into its already fast natured platforming. With Lilac, you can utilize her kicks and uppercut to take out enemies up close. If you want to deal multiple hits quickly, double jumping causes her to twirl in the air and attack enemies using her hair. This, as well as her directional boost, uses up her special gauge which refills in just a few seconds and even faster if you collect crystals. With Carol, she claws down at enemies and can pounce across the stage with these red platforms that are built into the floors and walls. When you press the jump button with her, she’ll do a very minor pounce that allows her to wall jump. Want to get some easy vertical distance, just wall jump like you’re playing MegaMan X! Not only that, but within stages, you’ll find random gas tanks. This is what allows Carol to use her motorcycle. It not only gives her a boost of speed but a bigger hitbox on her attacks as well.
Playing as Milla is very strange, to say the least. She can create a shield that can she can angle in several directions when holding her attack buttons and when releasing the button, it will shoot out a laser. If you crouch and use her special attack, she can dig and find items. Lastly, her other attack allows her to create blocks and toss them to attack enemies. Among the three, I think Milla has the most issues. When holding her attack button to utilize the shield, she can’t jump or move forward or bbackward– meaning that it halts the fast-natured pace of the game. With the blocks she creates, they don’t stick around at all when thrown. They’re essentially her projectile, which feels a bit off because when you start her first level – there is this gelatin on the floor that clearly looks very much like the blocks that she creates. I find it strange that it’s not part of her mechanics when her first stage introduces that those blocks can allow her to jump.
Moving forward with things that don’t work, although the stages are very well designed and very fun to blow through – they take up to about 10 minutes each. Which wouldn’t be a problem if it were due to multiple pathways to fully incentivize exploring? However, that’s not the case and it’s because each stage has a mid-boss and an end stage boss. Although some are fun, some bosses cause the game’s difficulty to just randomly spike: such as the fight against Spade or the Relic Maze boss. In addition to the fact that each stage is long, considering that I’m playing on the Switch and sometimes play while on the train – it sucks when I must turn my Switch off and then start the stage I was playing all over again. It suffers from the same issue that Sonic Mania does, where you can’t start at Act 2 of a Zone.
The overall presentation of the game is spectacular. The pixel art, character designs, and sound design is fantastic. Character movement is very fluid and the first time I noticed it was in the prologue cutscene, where Brevon pulls out his blade. Although some designs are strange, they don’t feel out of place from the world that is built. Except for Lord Brevon and Torque, because they’re aliens. In terms of sound design, sound effects tend to have a strong crunch to them that emphasize the impacts of attacks, especially when landing the final hit on a boss. However, although I stated the voice acting does bring the story to life, there are some places where you can clearly hear an echo. Almost as if someone was recording their audio in their own house.
Freedom Planet is a gem among many other indie games. As someone who sees it as a very risky place to drop money into, Freedom Planet delivers what it sets out to give to the player and goes beyond the average Sonic experience. Although there are some areas where the game could be a bit more polished, I think Freedom Planet will provide a very enjoyable experience for anyone who picks it up. With that being said, I give Freedom Planet a 3.5 out of 5.