Posted: May 21
This game was quite a surprise for me, as I hadn't heard about it until an article on Kotaku at the game's launch, and immediately, I knew that I would like it. What I got was the game that became my overall game of the year for 2014, not just indie game of the year, though I do admit that I'm biased towards good 2D action games. Now, through and through, this game is loaded with good design. Fast stages that reward exploration, elaborate bosses, quite a bit of challenge (but also a difficulty option that goes all the way down to “the biggest challenge is figuring out how to die” super-easy, if you really can't beat a boss), wonderful pixel art, and even the story is interesting.
The thing that stood out more than everything else has to be the bosses, and they were the kind of fights that (figuratively) had me at the edge of my seat, then (literally) hollering when I managed to defeat some of the more difficult ones. Some of them are screen-filling affairs, and some of the bosses are the same size of the player character. Others have multiple phases, and I was particularly impressed to see one that was An homage to Seven Force from Gunstar Heroes
That moment was huge for me, and I was shouting ____ YEAH! during the fight... even as it destroyed me. Perseverance is rewarded, and it did eventually fall.
The multiple characters were also great, especially since they play completely differently. While I did end up preferring Lilac's cyclone and dash attacks to anything the others had, Carol's motorcycle was a lot of fun, and Milla's shield and low health requires a much different strategy. The changes in mobility, speed, range, and even basic function of the abilities was really cool, and the character-specific stages also show that the developers put a lot of thought into it. More characters are promised, too, and I look forward to playing the game through with them.
All-in-all, Freedom Planet had everything that I would want in a 2D action game, and it did it with style. It's kind of like Sonic, but it's far and away better than Sonic Team ever produced, even at their Sega Genesis heights. Among 2-D action games, I think that Freedom Planet is better than anything else that I've played in nearly 20 years, and it's up there, and even above, many of Treasure's greats. I'd rank it above Gunstar Heroes, a game that I absolutely adore.... The only reason I have to say "nearly" 20 years is that Guardian Heroes still wins out as the greatest of all time for me... but being second to Guardian Heroes is a *very* impressive feat. Yeah, Guardian Heroes is a brawler and Freedom Planet is a platformer, but let's not get too caught up in specifics here. Both fall under the broad term of 2D action.