Freedom Planet is the result of what would happen if Sonic the Hedgehog had more backbone as much as he did attitude. Though it takes inspiration from the blue hedgehog everyone knows about, this indie game surprisingly does a whole lot more than one would expect. Not only does Freedom Planet have an excellent presentation and soundtrack, but its gameplay is exciting and filled with lots of fun moments that stuck with me long after I finished playing. By the time I completed the game’s story and unlocked more playable characters, I was eager to jump back in and see what alterations to the gameplay and story awaited me. Though there were a few negative parts that stood out during my time with Freedom Planet, I thoroughly enjoyed what was presented to me and wanted to see more.
The visuals of Freedom Planet are a real treat. The sprite animations and design of the many characters and levels are well-made and really come to life as you come across them during gameplay. Every character that appears in the story, playable or not, has a dynamite personality to go along with how they look. Lilac, Carol, and Mila are the main trio of heroes that come together during the story and are interesting enough to make you stick behind the trials they encounter throughout the game.
You get a wide range of emotions from all of them at different points of the story, sometimes even edging on the darker side of things, but they still maintain their charm and heroic qualities to keep you rooting for them. There are lots of enemy robots, creatures, and intimidating monsters that appear in each stage mostly themed to whatever the level you’re in at the time. But they never appear as too gimmicky or haphazardly designed, nor do they look out of place from the world that Freedom Planet tries to present.
The music in Freedom Planet is phenomenal, with tracks that make whatever is happening on screen feel exciting and action-packed. I loved the different sounds and tones of the music for each stage, even the shifts in music for the second acts that happen after defeating a mini-boss in a level. The music not only made each stage feel radically different from each other but also helped reinforce the ton of cutscenes and important moments without becoming too far removed or out of place for what was happening.
Darker moments and battles had music with a vicious and tougher sound, while the lighter and carefree times in the story were fun and calmer when they needed to be. But for me, it’s during gameplay when the soundtrack of Freedom Planet really becomes something special, where it makes the exciting levels and boss fights even better.
Speaking of gameplay, Freedom Planet follows a similar formula as Sonic the Hedgehog but puts more emphasis on fast-paced combat instead of speeding through levels. There’s also an element of exploration through its non-linear levels for finding hidden bonus content and items like shields that will help you throughout your adventure. It’s here, however, a few things start to bog down Freedom Planet as a whole, but not too bad as to ruin the overall experience. Like Sonic, characters you control can run fast through different sections and bounce off springs to build momentum and reach new areas.
The controls are solid and responsive, but the momentum one can build does seem a little inconsistent in some places. I was able to freely walk up vertical walls and steep hills with no issue in some sections, but couldn’t build enough push from springs or speed from hills in certain spots, and vice versa. Despite this one thing standing out, moving around and exploring each level in Freedom Planet works out fine.
The combat also good as well, with each character having a few attacks and one special ability that can be used to take out enemies as you move and jump around the environment. While I loved using Lilac the most throughout the story, I still enjoyed playing as both Carol and Mila through their unique stages and using their respective abilities. The differences between them aren’t too drastic, but just enough to make each playable character feel a bit different in some way.
If there’s one aspect about Freedom Planet that I feel stands out as its best characteristic, it would be the exceptionally well-designed boss battles you encounter. The majority of these fights, both minor and major boss battles, are set up where you fight some big baddie that blocks your path. But there are a select number of these battles that go above and beyond with their setup, presentation, and flow over the course the fight that makes them feel like the best parts of the game.
The best example of this is the fight towards the end of the Fortune Night stage, where Lilac and crew face the character Serpentine and a Robopanther he pilots. While the giant robot chases and battles Lilac, Carol will frequently jump in on her motorcycle and fight alongside her, while Mila can be seen in the sky above on a plane dropping health on the ground for Lilac. It’s a perfect example of the heroes working together in one major story battle that feels exciting while still being challenging to play, especially with the music that plays throughout the fight.
When the fight is finished, everyone standing together feels like a climax to the story, even though you’re far from done. After playing with all three characters and experiencing the boss battle from each perspective, which changes a bit depending on who you are playing with, this fight stands out as the best part of Freedom Planet and could have been the inspiration for part of games like Sonic Mania (funny how it comes back around!).
The only disappointing part of this, however, is that none of the other boss fights in the game reach the same quality or level of excitement as this one does. Other boss fights in Freedom Planet are still well-designed and hold emotional weight to the story, but they don’t come anywhere close to the fun in either gameplay or presentation that you experience here. Had that not been the case, Freedom Planet would be simply amazing.
Freedom Planet is a fantastic game that is definitely a worthy pickup for anyone’s game collection. The story is easy to get into, the visuals and soundtrack are fantastic, and the action-platform gameplay is both challenging and a lot of fun. I really enjoyed seeing Lilac and her friends save their home and want to see more of what goes on within their world. I’m more than sure that after playing for a bit, you will want to see so too!
This review was based on a digital review code for Freedom Planet for the Nintendo Switch, provided by XSeed Games and GalaxyTrail.