For this Liberated Enhanced Edition Switch review, there’ll be no exceptions for corruption, dystopia, hacking or, well… the term bleak. In essence, a cyberpunk title, it’s taken some time to get to play it.
After the first trailers and playing the demo, Liberated was high on my list – going back to June last year, but it’s only now that I’ve played it. Coincidentally, it’s in time for an upcoming limited physical release from PixelHeart/Just For Games.
Despite my interest, other than playing the demo on the PC and experiencing a drone section, I knew nothing, nor read any reviews. In that sense, I went into this Liberated Enhanced Edition, by Atomic Wolf, Walkabout Games and L.inc, a bit green, reliving that anticipation from last summer.
Liberated Enhanced Edition Switch Review
Liberated is a story-driven action platformer puzzle chimaera that features multiple playable characters. Each story is told from the said protagonist’s perspective, throwing in a bit of exposition as the story unravels.
It’s the very near future, and following a terrorist attack on a school that kills several children the government set up a task force that invasively monitors citizens through everything they do, with the ‘intention’ of preventing crime before it happens.
We experience the story through the task force and through the eyes of the Liberated who want the control and privacy going back to the people, taking some casualties along the way.
It’s all very Assassin’s Creed with the Templar vs Assassin thread. Both sides have relatable ideals but go to extremes to reach them. The Templars are order at the expense of freedom and control, whereas the Assassins want freedom but through any means necessary, causing chaos. That’s like the two opposing forces in this Liberated Enhanced Edition.
Order Vs Chaos
There are four chapters in the game (represented as Liberated comic issues), with two bonuses in the Enhanced Edition, telling the story from a different perspective. It’s not precisely Rashomon, but it’s a pretty decent narrative device.
The visual style is fantastic. While we’re all used to a cyberpunk story backlit by neon, but the entire game is a noir-like aesthetic, making good use of all those shades of greys without a dildo in sight. It’s moody and Sin City-like for the visual novel elements, with some excellent character voice talent along the way.
I’m almost over my frequent disclaimers about visual novels as I no longer treat them with indifference. In many respects, the non-interactive parts featured some quality storytelling that reminded me of some old animated Watchmen comics I bought about 15 years ago.
Hit This Switch, Swim For A Bit, Shoot That…
Besides the action platforming, a few of the panels offer a QTE, which can be quite tricky. Out of the blue, a button will flash up that you have to press in time to advance the story.
In most cases, you can repeat if you die, but there was one at the end of the first issue, and I’m not sure if I did ‘the right thing’. Pushed for time to get the review done, I’ll have to go back and replay that one.
As for the action, it’s a side-scrolling experience that is a mixture of Flashback and Inside. The animation is a little choppy, and even I noticed some frame dropping in places that spoiled a few sections, making them more challenging than they should have been.
However, I really like the visuals. As I played in handheld mode within a comic book panel, the relevance of details and anti-aliasing were unimportant. Additionally, the satisfying sound effects of shooting and enemy in the head with ‘headshot’ or ‘ouch’ showing up on the screen were ace.
There were a handful of puzzles along the way, and these were a highlight. They weren’t anything revolutionary, just switching out tiles to connect up a circuit or two, or a number sequence, but they broke the game up and were very satisfying.
It’s worth mentioning the variety in Liberated Enhanced Edition as you have so many genres covered: action, platform, puzzle, visual novel… and of course, QTE aspects and multiple paths, though they appear to lead to the same place.
It is a little formulaic for storytelling, but that’s probably because we’ve seen so many films, played so many games. Regardless, it’s one of the strong points in the game. However, there are quite a few spanners in the works.
Not So Stealthy Headshots
When it comes to accuracy, if you hold the right stick in place while moving, you can perform some perfect consecutive shots, but switching to your gun mid-run can result in a few unexpected deaths.
There’s no health to collect, just stay out of action for a few seconds, and you’ll reheal, but Libertad does have a tendency of putting enemies close to ladders while you’re using them, and you can’t whip out your gun mid-climb.
You could stealth your way through, and while it’s cool to take someone out silently, action is a little erratic, and there will be points where you will sprint in a scene without any conflict. The stealth side of things just slows it all down.
You can’t polish a turd, and even with a super stylish comic book noir, you’re going to see the cracks when it comes to gameplay. From my perspective, while the frame drops were notable in places and the core getting a little samey, it’s still an enjoyable experience, and in some respects, Liberated Enhanced Edition is a more like a visual novel with some lengthy bonus interactive gameplay.
Libertad Enhanced Edition is available for pre-order from PixelHeart now. It’s a limited run, so you need to be quick. Check out the separate news piece for details.
Liberated Enhanced Edition Switch Review Summary
Libertad won’t be for everyone, and despite the sleek aesthetics, the storytelling can get in the way of playing a game. As an overall package? I’d say it’s decent value as there’s such a variety here, and while the story isn’t entirely conclusive, it’s good enough to recommend a look.