Liberated – Review
Follow Genre: Action, Side-Scroller
Developer: Atomic Wolf, L.INC
Publisher: Walkabout
Platform: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC
Tested on: PC

Liberated – Review

Site Score
4.0
Good: Good art
Bad: Cliché and poorly handled story, bad combat
User Score
3.6
(5 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 3.6/10 (5 votes cast)

From time to time games attempt to combine genres to different degrees of success, such is the case for Liberated. It combines a Visual Novel in the form of a comic with a, for lack of a better term, side-scrolling shooter. Despite being a novel idea, the execution is far from perfect for several reasons.

Story

Those that know the Black Mirror episode about the social credit score and read or watched V for Vendetta know what they’re in for. Liberated’s story is yet another dystopian world where the good guy resistance rises against a controlling and manipulative government.

Drawing further comparison to V for Vendetta, the good guys all wear white masks. The game even has a plot device about a bombed school called St Martha’s, immediately reminiscent of the movie’s St Mary’s. While this is not a downright accusation of anything, the game sure wears its influences on its sleeve.

Ironically enough, Liberated doesn’t even do a good job with the already cliché plot. The story is filled with constant time skips and plot holes which lead to an ultimately disappointing ending. Adding to this, its characters are completely flat and uninteresting, basically cardboard cutouts. Each of them gets a few lines of dialogue that barely develop their personality or makes the player bond in any way with them.

Spoiler warning for the following paragraph.

In the first issue, the character that has been handled by the player has a scene wrestling over a gun. Upon failing the extremely quick QTE, said character dies unceremoniously in front of his companions, who show no emotion about it. While it may seem like this does not count due to being a “failure”, thus the player’s fault, the QTE is made with the intention of this being the outcome. Any other QTE in the game just reloads right before, while this one closes the chapter in either case. Further proof is how there’s an achievement for surviving this confrontation.

Graphics

Liberated’s graphics are a beast of their own, divided into two completely different parts. On the one hand, we have the comic sequences. These have great illustrations, though the character designs have the same problem they do in the story as they’re basically stereotypes.

On the other hand, we have the gameplay sections, made up of simple low poly 3D models. While the backgrounds and areas tend to be unique, the same can’t be said about the characters. While the playable ones are kind of unique, the enemies are identical to others of their type.

As a fun note, the devs didn’t deactivate the rigid bodies, the skeleton of a 3D model, for dead enemies. This means the player can strut through corpses making them ragdoll around, which looks quite goofy in a game that takes itself so seriously.

Sound

The game’s sound design is alright, the soundtrack is mostly made up of “tense moment” tracks and the SFX are simple but work. A highlight is the voice acting though, which is included for all dialogues both in the comic and gameplay sections. While sometimes the delivery is not the best, the actors nonetheless do a good job.

Gameplay

As mentioned in the introduction, the gameplay in Liberated is a mix between a visual novel and a side-scrolling shooter. Sadly, it takes the worst of both worlds, leaving it as a very bland experience. The VN sections include a very low amount of choices that only add a pair of lines or a sequence that ultimately leads to the same point. Meanwhile, the pitfall for the shooter parts is its difficulty. The player is armed with unlimited ammunition and enemies die in two headshots at most. Despite the attempts at making stealth interesting, it is way easier to go in all guns blazing than to wait for a full guard cycle to stealth kill.

Both types of gameplay also include a mechanic all players love, QTEs. These quick-time events generally result in outright death on failure, though most are very simple and give the player loads of time. An outlier for these was mentioned with some spoilers during the Story section, so refer to that if interested.

To add to the simplicity of the shooter parts, the player picks up a pair of new weapons on the different chapters. These substitute the default gun, without the option to go back to it but do a much worse job. Both of these weapons are extremely inaccurate and have long reload times, which only make clutch sections a slog. As another fun note including another developer oversight, one of the achievements, supposedly getting the shotgun, is triggered when the player receives a machine gun.

The game also includes some puzzle sections, though these are quite easy, further proven by the achievement for solving each of them in under 90 seconds. Most are based on line connection, with a few number guessing ones. It is a shame how few of these are included, seeing as they add some much-needed variation.

Conclusion

Liberated is a very bland game with a poorly handled story and simple gameplay. On a different kind of game it would be easy to excuse a simple story, but seeing as it’s a comic it becomes pretty hard to do so. The incredible short length, around 3 hours or so, does it no favors either. At a price point of 16,79€/$14,99 it is definitely not a worthy game, seeing how little it includes.

Personal Opinion

“When I went into the game, I already expected a cliché dystopian story. What I didn’t see coming is how underdeveloped the characters and plot would be. I expected at least some innovation or an attempt at telling a good story, but this wasn’t even remotely the case. Liberated fell flat on its face; the chapters kept trudging along without adding anything of substance and the gameplay sections were a drag. Everything about the game fails to keep a player engaged; there are a lot of games with the same concept that do a much better job.”

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Rating: 3.6/10 (5 votes cast)
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Liberated - Review, 3.6 out of 10 based on 5 ratings

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