If Freedom Planet were sitting at a bar with its back turned to you, you'd almost certainly mistake it for your old pal Sonic The Hedgehog. And I mean old. Classic, 2D, pudgier than today's model, who inspires body image issues in hedgehogs the world over. This is a love letter to classic Sonic, except when it's not.
Yikes, that voice acting. But there's actually quite a lot to like here, honest.
I've only played Freedom Planet's free demo, so I can't vouch for the full thing yet. That said, some observations:
- Expect to run through lots of loopty loops.
- The sense of speed is solid, but not blazingly, uncontrollably fast.
- The controls felt a little floaty to me, but that could've been because all I had on hand was my Xbox 360 controller, and it's not exactly the best for these sorts of games.
- There are three main characters, two of whom are in the demo. There's Lilac, who's speedy and able to dash through the air, Carol, who's a little less nimble but throws kicks and summons motorcycles (!!!), and Milla, who does dog things.
- Every character has a basic attack and special attack. My favorite was Lilac's dash. Carol's kicks took some of the spring out of her step, so I didn't dig them quite as much.
- Lilac might look like Sonic, but she is apparently a dragon. No, for real.
- The two main demo levels feature a nice amount of variety, not to mention multiple paths and a fun (though extremely simple) boss battle. I especially enjoyed the way the armored snake boss stuck around throughout the second non-tutorial level, doing everything from outright charging at me to popping out of waterfalls and blasting me with fireballs, disrupting my moment of serene meditation on how terrible it would be if giant snakes frequently popped out of waterfalls.
- It all culminated in a really neat final fight, too. The snake would pop out of holes in the ground, intermittently belching up fireballs as armored hole-dwelling snakes are wont to do. That part was pretty much whack-a-mole. But sometimes he'd cause a barrage of boulders to rain down from the ceiling, and I'd have to dash up a wall, onto the area's "ceiling" to run upside-down as boulders emerged just behind my every footfall. It was really thrilling, even if it was still pretty easy.
- Instead of hopping and bopping, Freedom Planet requires that you strike enemies with deliberate attacks. So if you land directly on a baddie, neither of you will take any damage. It's a seemingly slight change, but it actually alters the pacing of levels a lot. There's not as much of a seamless flow. I found myself stopping a little more often, dissecting enemies more thoroughly.
- On the upside, that meant more time to look around, take in the sights, and think, "Hey, I want to explore that."
- On the downside, though, getting into a groove with a classic Sonic level is a wonderful feeling. Then again, this isn't Sonic.
- Also, deliberate use of Lilac's dash special attack means you can get some pretty relentless forward motion going if you know what you're doing.
Those are just some super basic impressions of a really short demo. I definitely recommend you check it out for yourself and see what you think. The full game is currently on Steam for $14.99, and apparently it's got a fairly lengthy story, unlockables, and things of the like. Just remember: don't call her Sonic, and she's not a hedgehog. She will fight you.