Review: Freedom Finger
When Chinese terrorists take over the American Lunar Base on the Moon, America must strike back. Under orders from Major Cigar, the most devastating spaceship in existence, the Eagle Claw, is deployed to take the base back. It is up to you to fly across the furthest reaches of space, destroy everything in your path, and rock hard to the tunes of real-life bands. From Wide RIght Games comes Freedom Finger, a rocking and rolling spaceship shooter with an eclectic art style and sharp gameplay. Having originally played the game at PAX EAST this past Spring, the final form of Freedom Finger is stellar and an incredible amount of fun, easily becoming one of the best indie games of 2019. Lou, unapologetic, politically-incorrect and full of attitude, Freedom Finger comes at you ready for an exciting intergalactic adventure.
Space is the final frontier, but it was made to flip off and conquer. Freedom Finger is an action-packed spaceship shooter with an emphasis on rock and roll. Players pilot the Eagle Claw, an advanced spaceship and combat craft that just so happens to be shaped like a giant hand flipping enemies off with the middle finger. The Eagle Claw can shoot lasers, throw debris, and grab enemies to use their weapons against them. Throughout several chapters and a multitude of levels, players fight through the rigors of outer space and various dimensions, surviving waves of enemies, and challenging boss fights, while flying through asteroids fields and well-defended space stations. Like many spaceship shooters before it, players fight and shoot down every enemy possible to achieve the highest possible score. Along the way, players discover the intentions of the Chinese terrorists and encounter various other foes along the way.
Freedom Finger wraps itself in the visual styles of animation from the animation renaissance of the 1990s. With inspirations from shows such as Beavis and Butthead, Rick and Morty, and Superjail, the animated style fo Freedom Fighter is eclectic, detailed, and similar to an album cover of an up and coming 90’s rockband. It’s a refreshing sight to see in this day of video games, where most games adopt the future cyberpunk setting or a simple pixel design, not that there is anything wrong with these styles. This visual style also leads to incredibly animated and lively levels, where various events are happening. in the first level, as players fight the Chinese space force, a moon impacts and bores through a foreign planet in the background. This liveliness to the game gives Freedom Finger almost a music video feel. Freedom Finger isn’t something you watch and play, but a game that you experience. The visual presentation is matched by a strong performance of legendary voicework. Freedom Finger features several voice actors, which is headlined by John DiMaggio and Nolan North. Nolan and John deliver hilarious quips and lines as their respective characters, but the ensemble of supporting characters all create an incredibly entertaining adventure. While Freedom Finger has strong visuals, it meets these strong visuals with incredible gameplay.
Freedom Finger adapts and executes a style reminiscent of a local bar and music venue, similar to the world-famous Stone Pony in Asbury Park, NJ. These styles and artistic directions begin with the music of Freedom Finger. Freedom Finger sets itself apart from other spaceship shooters with its emphasis on Hard Rock and Roll, taking tracks from various sub-genres, especially West Coast Rock and Alternative Rock. Freedom Finger is not a music-rhythm game, but it is a game that weaves music into its actions and effects. From the very first level, players see the movement of enemy ships, and their laser fire, tied to the bass and drum rhythms of the music track playing. In later levels, drums and bass are tied to the moving of obstacles within specific levels, such as the Russian outpost, where giant pistons smash into the metal hulls of the level, timed to the hard bass and drums of the music track. The use of music is incredible, and the arrangement of real-life music artists in Freedom Finger is applied with thought and polish. It never feels out of place. Where most games have music surrounding the gameplay, and vice versa, Freedom Finger has gameplay and music coexisting into a seamless gameplay experience.
The purpose of each mission in Freedom Finger is to shoot absolutely everything on-screen, as well as to survive. Shooting everything on-screen is important, not just to raise a score, but to maintain stealth. Major Cigar believes that the fewer enemies that survive, the less likely they are to report on the Eagle Claw’s imminent arrival to the Lunar Base. Of course, destroying enemies and causing explosions is maintaining a stealth-profile in Freedom Finger. Players fire with their primary weapon, but can also grab various spacecraft to utilize their weapons against the enemy. Cannons, missile launchers, even smoke guns can be ripped from enemies and used against the oncoming hordes. This allows players to experiment with different weapon systems, however, certain weapons have a strong sense of weight and gravity, limiting the mobility of the Eagle Claw. Players can grab space debris and throw it back at the enemy for maximum damage. When all else fails, players can use the Eagle Claw to punch enemies directly. This skill is useful for opening switches and clearing obstacles as well.
Like an actual eagle, Freedom Finger sinks its talons into you and takes you on a mammoth intergalactic thrill ride with a soundtrack that would be fitting on Peter Quill’s Marauder. Enemies come in various shapes and sizes, each with their own shooting types. The eclectic and well-animated levels constantly have a sensation of life and energy to them, as if players are fighting in a music video that would be perfect for MTV’s The Request Live. The various obstacles and boss fights the player encounters keep the challenge engaging. Freedom Finger provides an unending amount of surprise and laughter. Surprisingly, Freedom Finger demonstrates heart and care, with several difficulty settings and censorship options. For those that simply want to have fun and keep their experience a bit cleaner, Freedom Finger features the ability to censor the Eagle Claw, as well as foul language, keeping the experience open and accessible for many players. There is very little wrong with Freedom Finger and anything that could be considered a setback is but a small pinprick. More levels, more music, and perhaps a co-op mode would be welcome, but what is available in Freedom Finger is exceptional. Across 37 levels, players rock out to mean, lean jams in space, while an Airforce Commander, smoking a cigar while holding another cigar, gives you attitude about Chinese food, all the while waves of Chinese and Russian spaceships attempt to destroy you.
Stack Up Dot Org doesn’t give review scores, but if it could, Freedom Finger would be a 10/10. From the ice-cold halls of PAX EAST to its arrival on Nintendo Switch, Xbox, and Steam, Freedom Finger has broken the mold into taking a well-established genre and providing new ideas, then following on those ideas in polished execution. It’s entertaining, enjoyable, and unapologetic in what it sets out to do. Freedom Finger is a wildly entertaining game that everyone should play, and it so happens to be 2019’s best. Rock on, Freedom Finger!
Freedom Finger was reviewed on the Nintendo Switch thanks to a generous donation from Wide Right Games
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, Steam
Developer: Wide Right Games