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PAX EAST: Liberated Hands-On

George Orwell’s famous novel, 1984, depicted a haunting dystopian world, where corruption is disguised as order and freedom of choice is a lie. This foundation has been seen in various books, shows, movies, and even video games. With so many, it is important to differentiate oneself from the competition, and Liberated from Atomic Wolf and Walkabout looks to do just that. Liberated was featured in the Holiday 2019 Nintendo Direct as an action and stealth adventure game, with a crime noir style portrayed through a fictional graphic novel. Liberated has been worked on since at least last year’s Pax East, and as the game inches closer to completion, Liberated has vastly improved to become a title worth keeping an eye on. 

Liberated takes place in a dystopia, where the government and police monitor all forms of communication and rule with an unjust fist. An underground resistance has formed to potentially topple the government and restore democracy. Through a series of graphic novels, Liberated tells its story from various directions and viewpoints, from those within the government and those against the government. 

Liberated is a side-scrolling adventure game that features aspects of shooting, stealth, and platforming. Players fight enemies and navigate obstacles toward their goal. For the beginning of the demo, players are placed into the shoes of a rookie brought onboard to storm a data center and broadcast a message of defiance against the government. 

The game tells its take through graphic novel panels, with some animation and sound effects. Liberated presents entire levels, and sections of levels, through the graphic novel panel. The beginning of the demo introduced shooting, where players shoot drones with their handgun. Shooting in the game felt strong, as the handgun had a sensation of weight and feedback. Additionally, there were segments of stealth. These segments were enjoyable, albeit, a bit rough. To land a successful stealth-kill, I had to walk slowly and sneak on the unsuspecting guard to attack. Additionally, I was able to sneak behind a pillar and use a QTE to dispatch a guard. I admittedly struggled in this section but managed to persevere and proceed with the demo. Upon reaching the data center, the game shifted to the next part of the demo. 

Once again, Liberated does a brilliant job of portraying its story through the graphic novel. The game zoomed out to have the player view the pages of what was to unfold. The next part of the demo had me as a member of the dystopian government, an inspector working hard to crush any hint of rebellion. This is where the demo of Liberated opened up.

The last half of the liberated Demo turned into more of a run-and-gun sidescroller shooter. Equipped with a small machine gun, the demo had me barging into a suspected rebel hideout, with orders to eliminate anyone in the way. Once again, the graphic novel presentation was effectively used, as moving onwards towards each room transitioned the character to another slide in the novel. It was very reminiscent of the SEGA Genisis classic, Comix Zone, where the character adventures through the panels of a comic book to fight the antagonist. In Liberated, the noir black and white styles were expertly maintained. An additional surprise was using a drone to target and eliminate enemies in another room. At this moment, the panel changed and the color tones shifted to resemble the viewpoint of the drone. Shapes and persons can be barely made out through the computer screen, but it was effective in giving the impression of piloting a small drone. After the demo, many rebels were slain, and the goal was accomplished, but alas, the detective perished in a sea of toxic gas, with only the image of a mysterious masked figure adorned the screen of a wall-mounted television. With that, the demo was over.

Liberated is shaping to be a fine game for these times. The themes of order versus freedom, set along with a vivid and sharp presentation, make Liberated stand out among other side-scroller adventure games. The team at Atomic Wolf is incredibly passionate and talented with what they are doing, and have gone to great lengths to further improve Liberated. Having followed Liberated since PAX EAST 2019, Liberated has improved to become one of the strongest, and most important games of 2020.

Liberated launches in 2020 for PC and Nintendo Switch, with other platforms to be announced at a later time.

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