I always find it amusing when a piece of entertainment, be it a game, film, TV Show or book tries to tell a story about how bad government control is. Or how the current way we use social media, or our spending habits are keeping us down. All whilst trying to sell us a product. That is what Liberated is doing.
Now that’s not a slight on the concept at all. I get it and the only way to get a message across is to use the mediums that reach the most people in the best ways.
Liberated is an interesting example, as I think it has a decent story being told somewhere, with a graphic novel aesthetic that looks gorgeous. It really has the feel of playing a live comic book that would feel at home in your local indie comic book shop. It is though the creators here are fans of Frank Miller and have paid homage him and his comics.
There is a neo-noir style that oozes atmosphere from the very first moment the game starts and with each panel thereafter. The added details with minor moments of animation bring the pages to life wonderfully and it is also pretty well voice acted in the main. The story certain entices you to want to move forward.
There are however a ton of issues, which are made up of lots of good ideas, that just fail to blend together properly. Imagine you are presented with a selection of your favourite foods. Ice cream, ramen, cheese, pork and strawberries. You like them all of course. Now imagine they are presented to you on a single plate. It could well be presented well, but you know it isn’t going to taste right.
That is the exact problem with Liberated. Beneath a wonderful look and interesting story is a mess of too many different ideas that stop the game being as good as its premise.
The overall mechanic is a side scrolling action-adventure with a decent enough shooting system. If the developers had focussed on just that, then I honestly think we could have been speaking about a great Indie title that left a legacy. But unfortunately that isn’t the case.
As much as I loved the look upon starting the game, I was put off somewhat by the stop-start nature of things. The game would present numerous panels and pages, that need you to press A to proceed, but would then have you missing dialog as you accidentally press A to move forward and skip the next line.
Along with that, you could then get a few seconds of control. Including some added quicktime sections which really were not needed. Some stealth sections, some of which felt needless at the point they are introduced. I get they want you to feel like you are playing and not sitting around, but in this case I’d have preferred a 10 minute opening to set the scene, before introducing the gameplay.
Or even more preferred, telling the story with you completely in control. What I suppose hit me the most, was that the game reminded me very much of Inside, especially with the way the monochromatic style with amazing lighting works. If you’ve played that, then you know how well story can be told as you play.
Liberated is a frustrating game. I really wanted to like it, because a lot of love has been poured into it. Yet stepping back and maybe taking some of the fluff away would have really helped things.
It is certainly a game worth trying if you get the chance, but (and I hate saying this), you really should wait for a sale. There are many better games out there that are a cut above in almost every aspect. However, here is the thing. I still saw Liberated through to the end, despite all those issues. So make of that what you will.