A truly novel concept in theory, Liberated is quite literally playing through a comic book. The washed out color and overall tone of the game aid to set the mood, but it can just as easily get tiring. While the visuals can be nice, the game sets itself up to be little more than cliché commentary with some less than responsive gameplay.
To start this off, I need to say I really admire the approach to Liberated. Literally playing through a comic book is a great way to tell a story when done properly, and the scene transitions in Liberated are actually really cool. The environments are very nicely done, and while same-y in their urban and dystopian feel, they add to the atmosphere of the game. The downside to this, is the character models. The character models are very blocky and only generally representative of the story characters. The general features are there, but not much else more. These by themselves wouldn’t detract from the experience, but the gameplay doesn’t help Liberated’s case.
Gameplay wise, Liberated does not feel fun to play. It is incredibly clunky, it feels like you’re driving a car with wooden square wheels. Running to the right is fine and all, but for a stealth action game it just feels not great. You’re introduced to stealth gameplay and unarmed takedowns, but a few comic panels later you’re given a gun. There is no HUD displaying how much ammo you have left, and surprise! You have an infinite amount of ammo. What was once stealth gameplay turns into hold the gun out and empty magazines whenever an enemy shows up. There’s no reason at all to hide unless mandated by the environment, and that’s quite really it. The puzzles are simplistic, and it really feels like you’re just playing to prepare for a cutscene, rather than having a cutscene prepare you for gameplay. With how it plays, the story might as well be full blown action. You start out with some silent takedowns, and then you’re gunning down five and six enemies down in the street. Liberated doesn’t hold itself to the standards it sets, and promotes a guns blazing approach even when you’re supposed to be on the run. Not only this, there are quick time events the game makes you complete to progress. I can only stress, these are not quick time events. The timer is so slow, the animations are slow, and the pause for the input is incredibly jarring. What should be an action segment completely kills the pace of the cutscene, and makes you do some arbitrary inputs to progress what would be better presented as a visual novel.
There isn’t much to say about the story. It’s really just the ever-played out dystopian future “government bad, resistance good” scenario. The main character gets jailed for petty crime, because the government can see everything. The massive amount of big brother surveillance is pushing the population down, and you’re essentially abducted into a group to help them stop it. The pacing is normal at first, and then at the end of the first “issue” of the game the story takes a HARD left turn. This singular event is so jarring I had to play through it twice to make sure I got it right. That being said, it doesn’t really add anything to the experience. It’s kind of a jarring event for the sake of a jarring event, as even the other main characters pay it little mind once it does happen. While it does speak to a larger narrative, it feels so out of place in the moment that it takes away from the experience it almost immerses you into.
Frankly, I had higher hopes for Liberated. The comic book theme worked well at the start, but after the first hour everything started to look so bland. Even complete changes in the environment felt too similar, and the story wasn’t anything new. Everything about it felt done to death minus the comic theme, and even that got old very quickly. From the clunky gameplay to the pauses in quick time events and general tone not matching up to the story being presented, Liberated never gripped me. What was a good premise fell through the cracks, and what could’ve been an engaging gameplay experience felt like it’d be better off as a visual novel.
Score: 5 out of 10
Reviewed on Windows PC