A handful of exceptions excluded, platformers are typically synonymous with the act of jumping up and ascending toward your end goal, with falling down often resulting in death or setting you back. As the name implies, Freedom Fall takes a different approach, placing your stranded at the top of a tower and forcing you to descend through the traps an precariously placed spikes toward your escape. It’s a novel idea accomplished with a lot of style, but one that was also originally done for mobile and tablet devices and on its way to the PC has had little effort into better suiting it to the platform. What follows is an enjoyable, but flawed experience that can’t reach its full potential, despite being largely enjoyable much of the time.
Taking the role of a nameless prisoner, placed for an unknown crime at the top of a dungeon-like tower, you’re let loose with the promise that you will be pardoned if only you can make it through alive. Once you step out of your cell however, you become the plaything to a maniacal princess, taunting you through writings left on the wall which also serve to flesh out the backstory of both your character and the princess. Her dialogues are far and away my favorite thing about the game; unapologetically sociopathic musings which are both hilariously morbid and engaging, while giving your on-and-off adversary a level of depth I didn’t expect to find in this game. It’s disappointing then that the ending is so anticlimactic, but at least getting there is fairly entertaining.
As a down-scrolling platformer, FF plays much like any other game in the genre except with lots more, well, falling. You spend much of your time maneuvering through the air as you collect bolts to buy tools which help you access hard to reach areas and generally make progressing a lot easier. An interesting twist is that you are often given the choice between an easy and hard path, the former featuring fewer traps and a quicker way through, and the later giving you more bolts if you can survive through it. It’s a smart way to allow for those looking for different levels of challenge, but my main complaint with it is that about halfway through you already have more than enough bolts to buy every upgrade, so taking the harder path becomes a bit pointless aside from your own pride getting in the way. I would have preferred if the item prices had been better balanced, or that the act of buying the items was removed altogether and you were simply given them at certain points in the game, because bolts as they are now seem superfluous and tacked on.
Although the artwork certainly looks good in stills, the way it moves is what makes it such a joy to behold. The background and foreground subtly shift apart giving the impression of 3D, which creates a very neat effect when your character runs through it (who’s hair I should mention animates beautifully). The soundtrack is an excellent collection of rock and ambient tunes, with several great guitar lines standing out as particularly memorable.
Unfortunately as much as I love the art and music of FF it has some unmistakable problems. The splat popup when you die looks horrible and is completely out of place, like a forgotten placeholder that made it into the final game. Numerous bugs pop up throughout, from broken animations to consistently poor performance, and many areas could have used more polish. Unrelated to the presentation, the biggest thing holding me back from fully recommending Stirefire Studio’s creation is the extremely short length and unreasonable price. I completed the game in about an hour, and unless you are obsessed with climbing the leaderboards for each level there isn’t any reason to go back. For the $3 it originally costed on Android it doesn’t seem too bad considering the game itself is a lot of fun, but for $10 it’s undoubtedly overpriced.
I like Freedom Fall quite a bit. It’s an interesting twist on platformers with a smart tongue and a great soundtrack that feels just long enough despite its brevity. Be that as it may, for its current price I don’t believe it to be worth it, and would suggest waiting for a sale for those interested in picking it up. I’m not sure why the price was raised so much for the PC version, but regardless of the reasoning I believe it silly and those who pay full price will likely be disappointed with what they get.
Freedom Fall was developed by Stirfire Studios and is available on PC, Mac, and Android.