WE‘RE LEGION. WE’RE LIBERATED!
An action-adventure with shooter elements. Those are the genres used to describe Liberated. I’ve got to admit, I wouldn’t have guessed if it weren’t for this. At first, watching the trailer gave no hint to this. Sure, there were brief glimpses of in-game shots, but never anything about actual game-play. Still, the noir style caught my intrigue. Not many games use a comic motif to tell their story either. All this had me curious, so I had to take a look at it. I was excited, and I got right into it. After playing and beating it, I realized something. Never judge a book by its cover. Get to know it first. Do your research. A lesson for life really, but for games too.
AN ACTION THRILLER STARRING…
Liberated tells the story of a corrupt world where everyone is being watched. Every time that you log into social media, data will be extrapolated and compiled. Civilians have their every move recorded, and no one is a stranger to the government.
It’s an interesting premise and one that almost mirrors reality. A plethora of interesting stories are waiting to be told. However, I felt every time the chance was horribly missed. I’ve always touted that immersion is essential to player connection. For any in-game trauma to have any weight, that data needs to feel like a real person. Emotions need to be emulated. Sadly, this isn’t something that I felt Liberated achieved. The writing left much to be desired, and it hurt my experience. This is a no dive zone as it’s very shallow.
I’ll say this to get it out of the way, I feel more time was needed. Not just for the writing, but for all aspects. I want to focus on the latter for now though. My biggest issue were the characters. I didn’t find them lively. None of them had much personality that I could grab on to. Truthfully, these are all stereotypical of any action based game. You’ll have your muscle head with a beard, an agile, stealthy woman, and the brainiac.
There’s definitely a foundation being laid, but nothing has been constructed on it. Because the characters fell short of being believable, I in turn just didn’t care for them. The interactions that they had felt mechanical for the most part. And their motivations weren’t clear. I never felt like they had an invested interest in returning privacy to the people. My time spent on this game was watching as these characters were hitting key goals to progress the narrative, and nothing more.
One thing I appreciated was that Liberated isn’t afraid to pull punches. It’ll delve into dark subject matter if it needs to. My problem comes in when that sensitive topic is used, but it isn’t utilized much. It’s just added in for the shock value. The core point of the plot is a fine example. When I first saw it, I was stunned. I couldn’t believe they did it. So naturally, I was expecting a great pay off, but it just continued on a bland trail. I noticed the attempt on making everything seem intense, but with no actual care from me, it all fell flaccid. It also felt like they were throwing in disturbing scenes in hopes of it grabbing you.
Now, I normally stay clear of spoilers, but I feel this should be mentioned. Think of it as a warning for the content, but also an example of poor writing. You’ll eventually encounter a torture scene. Typically, most can’t watch these. I’m included in that. The human suffering and cries of agony are uncomfortable. From an analysis standpoint, this is a perfect example of throwaway content. For starters, I actually confused the one receiving the torture for someone else. That’s another problem I’ll touch on. For now, the torture scene. There was no build-up to it. The one getting punished, well, I hadn’t seen him until that point. So, what was my reason to care about him? Was it because of the relation to the three characters mentioned above? Even with that, if I’m not given reasons to care, I won’t.
WHO ARE ALL THESE PEOPLE?
I absolutely loved the artwork. Everything looked genuinely like a comic book should, the shading was nicely done, but the absence of color was missed. Not really a slight as this design choice called for authenticity, and that’s exactly what Walkabout did. The real negative was in my inability to always tell the difference between characters with similar features. That torture scene had a bearded man, and my instinct thought it was one person, but it was revealed to be someone else.
Overall, most characters were distinct enough, don’t get me wrong. There was just a handful of them that looked very similar. Heads are shaped slightly differently. Hairstyles have slight differences. For me, I found having trouble differentiating some took away from those moments of revelation. Instead of audibly cursing, I’d be left wondering. Who is that?
QUICK, SHOOT THEM WITH YOUR GUN!
Liberated hits every genre that it’s been given, plus more. The gameplay loop consists of a run and gun. The best way to describe this is to imagine running through a corridor. As you do, hooligans will pop out to try and murder you. That’s it, and it’s what you’ll be doing for the 4 to 6 hours it’ll take you to complete it. I felt by not introducing new and interesting chances to the formula aided in it becoming repetitive. The action bits anyway. You’ll also find puzzles here and there that unlock doors. These were actually kind of fun. They weren’t too difficult, but hard enough. That’s what she said. I enjoyed them and I wish there were more. It speaks volumes though that this was the most intriguing part of the game. A game about shooting people.
Control-wise, the right stick aims, while the right bumper shoots. If you were to get up close and personal, you’ll throw hands. Now, I played this on the Nintendo Switch Lite. It could be that was a factor to me finding the hand positioning to be awkward. I had to constantly adjust as my arm would start falling asleep. I just feel that if you have big hands, you’ll have a better time on the dockable version.
All in all, the gameplay was serviceable but felt redundant. I also found the portions with several enemies coming at you insanely difficult. I had a hard time aiming fast enough to take them down. This had me dying over and over. I couldn’t really move either because I was enclosed, and with only two directions to move into, I was always targeted. Simply put, I was a sitting duck. I got through it, but man, I had to die.
AND THE VERDICT IS…
Liberated feels incomplete. The writing is poor and never really explores the characters. It never tells you much about them or allows you to get invested. Its a go, go, go game. Not necessarily a bad thing, but we’ve seen examples of this done and still maintaining a good story. Even with nonsensical dialogue, fun gameplay can save it. Unfortunately, neither are here. I also felt they shoehorned characters and gave them important relations to others as a way to manufacture immediate importance. It never did though. Development is what’ll make those real and impactful, and that’s nonexistent here. Immersion is something that this title struggles with. Because of that, any heartfelt or traumatic event is reduced to just being a thing. It exists, the end. There was no player emotion. I didn’t feel driven to see everything conclude. There’s also weirdly some lag when transitioning pages. Like the game is struggling to load in the graphics. Graphics that aren’t very demanding. It pains me to say this but…
LIBERATED IS NOT RECOMMENDED
Liberated can be purchased digitally for Nintendo Switch via the console store. At the time of writing, a PC version is due to release soon (Q2 2020) which can be purchased via Humble Bundle or Steam.
Many thanks go to the publisher Walkabout for a review code for this title.
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Painfully single, but still somehow a master of dad jokes. If asked, he’ll answer it’s for his inner child. Fabio enjoys JRPG’s and has embraced his anime love.