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You’ve played the classic Sonic games too many times to count. Honestly, there’s only so many times you can dash through loop-de-loops and repeatedly defeat Dr. Eggman before it gets tiring. The worst part is that it’s nearly impossible to find a game that’s similar to the iconic Sonic gameplay—until now.
Freedom Planet is the perfect mix of novelty and nostalgia. It offers almost the same gameplay as Sonic the Hedgehog, while offering a brand new storyline and a cast of quirky characters.
Freedom Planet isn’t some mindless platformer—it actually comes with an in-depth storyline that some indie games lack. It follows three playable characters: Lilac the dragon, Milla the basset hound, and Carol the wildcat. Each character has a distinct personality; while Carol is a kick-butt tomboy, Lilac is an honest justice-seeker, and Milla is the sensitive one.
The story opens with Lilac and Carol finding the half-duck, half-turtle creature, Torque, at the scene of a spaceship crash. He asks the two girls for help in recovering the powerful Kingdom Stone. Unfortunately, their quest for the Kingdom Stone comes with a price, as it causes Lilac and Carol to become involved in a global conflict between the three feuding kingdoms: Shuigang, Shang Mu, and Shang Tu. They soon learn that their planet Avalice has been invaded by an alien army, lead by the evil Lord Brevon.
Narrative cutscenes play in between gameplay sequences, and you can tell that the developer definitely put some thought into the script. You’ll also notice the incredibly detailed pixel art as soon as you start playing the game—some levels resemble in East Asian-inspired cityscapes, while others take place in crystal-filled caverns.
As for the gameplay, it’s pretty obvious that it’s heavily inspired by Sonic. When you take the role of Lilac, Carol, or Milla, you dash through each level, occasionally using your character’s special ability. Like Sonic, you’ll get to bounce on springs, run upside down, and gain power-ups. The boss fights are varied and challenging, occurring at the end of every stage. Freedom Planet really makes you feel like you’re playing Sonic, but with some welcome differences (like the lack of the nervewracking timer that’s found in Sonic).
The unofficial motto of all Sonic games is “Gotta go fast,” and I expected that to be reflected in Freedom Planet‘s gameplay as well. While you do get some high-speed action in the game, I still feel that it’s lacking in the speed department. It takes at least 20 minutes to complete each level, and the slow pace doesn’t make it go by any faster.
Unlike Sonic, you can’t zoom through the levels at an unrelenting pace. You’re constantly met with speed bumps coming in the form of uneven, floating, or curved platforms. It bothers me that I can’t fly through the level and complete it in minutes flat. The excitement and adrenaline that comes along with speed make Sonic unique, but Freedom Planet just doesn’t have that.
I’m also disappointed in the springs meant to speed up the characters—even with the spring’s help, my character’s max speed doesn’t come close to the zippiness of Sonic. Lilac’s special ability can speed things up, but it doesn’t last very long. If that kind of speed was present throughout the entirety of the game, it would make the levels a lot smoother.
While I appreciate the fact that each character has unique abilities—such as Carol’s wall jumping and Lilac’s speed boost—Milla’s abilities just aren’t cut out for the game. Although she comes armed with defensive psychic attacks and can jump higher than the other characters, she has major downfalls. Her small health bar combined with slow attack speed and sluggish momentum make her the most unhelpful character in the game. It seems like the developers only included Milla for the variety, rather than efficiency.
Freedom Planet‘s voice acting really ties the game together. Games these days usually don’t include voice acting and text, so hearing the characters’ voices came as a surprise. While some might think the acting is super cheesy and overdramatic, I think it’s a perfect fit for the game. The voice actors did a fantastic job giving each character a personality, along with a sense of enthusiasm and innocence. If you aren’t a fan of the voice acting and cutscenes, you can always skip them by playing Classic Mode instead of Adventure Mode.
I was equally as impressed with the music as I was with the voice acting—the arcade-style electronic beats give the game a retro vibe. Take a listen to the soundtrack above, and you’ll see what I mean.
Fortunately, you won’t have to wait long for a sequel after you finally defeat Freedom Planet, as Freedom Planet 2 is set for release later this year.