Review – Liberated

A game presented in a noir comic book style, not only through its cel-shaded graphics and usage of onomatopoeia, but also by literally being presented inside a graphic novel. A story about a revolutionary group, obviously inspired by Anonymous, trying to overthrow a totalitarian, quasi-Orwellian government that keeps track of all of its populace through their online history. It should have been great. Liberated has a fantastic premise. But boy oh boy, does it fail in its execution.

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It actually looks somewhat good at first glance. Sadly, just at first glance.

Liberated starts off with the right foot. I got hooked by its story pretty quickly, partially because of my massive interest in stories about underground guerrillas taking down despot powers (Watch Dogs, V for Vendetta, 1984). Also probably due to the weird times we’re living in at the time of the writing of this review.

Right from the get-go, you’re introduced to this dystopian, albeit heavily relatable society. In it, every citizen’s social media profile is basically used by the authorities as a means to take tabs of what they do, who they talk to, where they go, and so on. A millennial version of Big Brother, to put it simply. Your main character is a hacker, because of course, and after almost being thrown into jail by the ruling authorities, he is rescued by a rebellious group called “The Liberated”, which is basically Anonymous, but equipped with heavy weaponry. This is how our story unfolds from there on.

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But then it gets reaaaaally ugly.

The way Liberated tells its story is very interesting at first. This is no XIII or Comix Zone. This isn’t just a game trying to look like a comic book. This is basically a game trying to be an interactive graphic novel, with all of its cutscenes being panels with speech bubbles in a page. The actual interactive bits of the game also take place inside comic book panels, although the entire level is set inside one simple panel, basically resulting in a normal 2.5D platformer set in a very small screen. If you play this in portable mode, you can already expect some hindrances.

Playing Liberated is just not as fun as “reading” it. The game itself is a very underwhelming platformer that doesn’t know if it wants to be cinematic like Prince of Persia or not. Your character doesn’t move at that typical snail’s pace with heavy animations like in other games of the genre, yet he doesn’t move as fast and precisely as characters in faster-paced platformers either. It’s a weird limbo in which the controls simply don’t work. There is a very noticeable amount of input delay, plus some really terrible aiming and shooting controls. No to mention a ton – and I mean a ton – of “trial and error” sections that would theoretically require twitch-like reflexes, something this game just can’t offer.

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When reading a game is more interesting than playing it.

While the game looks good in its static comic book-esque cutscenes, it does not look good at all when you actually play it. The visuals are reduced to murky, low-quality polygons set in a background so devoid of colors that seem to be there just to hide the overall lack of polish in the graphical department. The framerate is pretty underwhelming as well, which makes the already faulty gameplay even more annoying to deal with. Ironically enough, the most entertaining gameplay-related bits in the entire game ended up being the QTE sections. Not only do they feature slightly better visuals and performance, but they usually feature more than one outcome, further encouraging replayability. Not that you will play it again, but there’s an extra reason if you really want to.

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The shooting mechanics are ROUGH…

A fantastic idea and a brand new way of telling a story in a video game, all hampered by underwhelming gameplay and an overall lack of polish: that’s Liberated in a nutshell. It’s a game that might be fun to look at, given its comic book presentation, but isn’t fun at all when it forces you to play a level. It’s just too glitchy, unfair, and uninspired to make you want to keep playing it for long. A shame, without a doubt, as this could have been the closest counterpart to a V for Vendetta game out there…

 

Graphics: 6.5

A great noir-influenced comic book art style is hampered by terrible visuals and framerate whenever you actually end up playing the game.

Gameplay: 5.0

Clunky platforming with a noticeable amount of input delay and some really wonky shooting mechanics. Ironically enough, the QTE sections ended up being the most polished and entertaining bits in the entire game.

Sound: 5.0

It’s neither bad nor good. It’s just a handful of cyberpunk-ish background noise and the occasional gunshot sound effect. You’ll be better off playing this while listening to something else.

Fun Factor: 4.0

Liberated might be presented in an innovative manner, and its premise is quite interesting, but it’s too clunky and unfair to keep you invested for long.

Final Verdict: 5.0

Liberated is available now on PC and Switch.

Reviewed on Switch.

A copy of Liberated was provided by the publisher.