Liberated is a Cyberpunk-Noir style Action-Adventure game. The story unfolds as a series of comic books. Created by Atomic Wolf, L.inc and published by Walkabout Games. It takes the whole ‘Big Brother is watching you’ concept and runs with it. Boasting stunningly great visual’s and a completely unique narrative experience for the player to enjoy.
In addition to our review, we were given the opportunity to fire away some of our questions in the direction of Piotr Gnyp, head of BizDev at Walkabout Games. You can find the Q&A at the end of the review. Allowing for an insight into the development and inspirations behind the game, straight from the horse’s mouth!
Unfortunately, the gameplay was the weakest part of the game. The gameplay, although visually stunning, got repetitive rather quickly. With the majority of it being running and gunning. With filler content in between.
The level design, however, was thoughtfully created, with many beautiful visuals throughout. offering varying styles of maps to keep things interesting. From fleeing through a forest to shimmying across a window platform of a highrise. The game has undeniable variety – from a visual sense at least.
Failed Stealth Elements.
When I say most of the game is spent running and gunning enemies. It was not designed this way. The game throughout offers numerous avenues of approach, teasing you with forms of cover in their plenty for you to hide behind. Allowing you to sneak up and subtly take down enemies.
Where this game falls flat as a stealth style game is that there are no consequences for being trigger happy. You can open fire on an unsuspecting guard – walk into the next room and another enemy is also mindlessly patrolling, Oblivious to the loud gunshots happening just a few yards away. If they really wanted to include a tactical element. I personally feel They should have added consequence to pulling the trigger, Like enemies flocking to your location after hearing a shot – Or include places later on, similar to the start of the game, where detection was game over.
The gameplay was fairly easy. It presents itself in two difficulties; Reader and Player. Reader mode allows for the fast killing of enemies, added life and unlimited ammo. But the game holds your hand enough already in Player mode for this to be a pointless feature.
Player mode does contain its difficult area’s. But they are few and far between. Most of the game is a breeze.
Quick Time Events
Liberated integrates quick time events well. Resulting in some on the spot occasions where you would have to react with a correct, timed button click. This mechanic wasn’t overused to the point where it became boring. But included enough so that you wouldn’t let your guard down.
Every now and then the game presents a variety of puzzles. Most commonly used is a “button” based puzzle. Whereas you have to reach and press a button. That consequently either opens a door, or leads to another button that beforehand was unreachable.
also included to the gameplay is the popular ‘Codebreaker Puzzle’, “complete the circuit puzzle”, as well as an unnamed but ever-popular “here’s a box, go work out what you have to do with it” puzzle. These puzzles weren’t overly challenging and they give the impression some were added just to slow things down, but they were somewhat fun and a welcomed change of pace.
All in all the gameplay is bearable, and the developers’ focus was never on making this the best game that people have ever played. It is more of an effort to compliment the story. being there to add to the immersion and build a closer bond to the characters – it does just that.
The story takes place in a nameless “new world”. Where the government can identify people through face recognition, Social media usage as well as other methods. This was originally enforced to protect the people. Using information gathered to detect crime before it had even happened. But that soon changed.
The game presents you with two sides to the story. There is the perspective of the ‘Liberated’, a resistance group regarded widely as nothing more than terrorists, And the Police Force, Namely Captain Frank Roberts.
The game holds a discreet real-world message. Although taking part in an unnamed dystopian world where big brother watches your every move. throughout the whole journey, you begin to find similarities to the one we live in now. A possible prediction into what the future could hold – And it’s a frightening concept.
All in all the game contained a mesmerising, yet concerning, story. Well presented and complimented in its entirety by the presence of the unique comic book style. I wouldn’t be surprised if this game earns numerous awards for its exceptional storytelling and daring methods of telling it.
The Graphics truly compliment the story. With the main bulk of the storytelling being drawn in 2D. While the gameplay was created in 3D. It created for a nice blend.
The art throughout the game is second to none, as is the level design. The way the graphics transitions through is also incredible. Each block of the comic misted out. Slowly phasing in from block to block.
When the player gets to the end of the page. It pans out, leaving almost a visual freeze-frame of every block. Allowing you to just take in the beauty in it’s entirety. Before turning the page over, for it all to happen again.
When you get to the end of the comic. it flips itself all the way back to the front page. Including all the unveiled images. Almost acting as a quick episodic summary.
The graphics on this game are all incredibly made. All staying true to the Cyberpunk-noir style that the game boasts. Much like with the story, I wouldn’t be surprised if the art was to win awards as recognition for the incredible standard.
With the game being heavily focused on at its core remaining a comic. The game opted, rightfully so, on minimalistic audio. There is no voice acting, A true homage to its inspiration.
Most of the in-game music and sound effects are done to a satisfactory standard. Although sometimes I found myself having to juggle the volume up and down, Depending on what was happening.
The turning of pages, as well as the flipping back through the book at the end definitely captures the magic that comic books bring. And despite being broadcast onto a tv or handheld screen, The magic of the comic book is not lost.
The game doesn’t particularly excel with the soundtracks and sound effects. Nor does it fall hard. It contains enough audio to carry the story along without any notable issues.
Without any spoilers how would you describe the story to someone unaware of what Liberated is?
Liberated is an action-adventure game about a revolution in a cyberpunk world. When everyone’s under constant surveillance and worth only as much as their Citizen Credit System score, some people won’t stand for it, and you get a chance to join them. Our game takes place on the pages of digital comic book hand-drawn in a unique tech-noir style.
What inspired you to make such a unique style of game?
We are fans of comic books and games, and not many studios out there set out to combine the two. There are some games with comic book elements, with static hand-drawn cutscenes, but no one’s gone all the way, maybe except Comix Zone from the 90s. We wanted to recreate the feeling of getting that new comic book, touching its shiny cover and immersing yourself in the story–while being a part of it as well.
Was the style set out from the very beginning, or did it come later on in the production where you decided “Hey, lets set the game out like a graphic novel”?
We had a general idea of what we wanted to make. We knew it had to be a noir game within a comic book framework, there was no doubt about it. But should it be 2D or 3D? Black-and-white or with a touch of colour? This we had to work out. Ultimately, I’m happy to say that Liberated is actually very close to our initial concept, and we didn’t have to sacrifice our vision for any reason.
Was there a political message to be interpreted from the game, or a moment in history that got your interest as a relatable moment to the game’s story?
I wouldn’t say that it’s political. But it is a relevant question about our society. No matter who you vote for you need to understand what is going on with the world and what your opinion is on it.
The conflict between security vs privacy is not new. It’s just damn important right now due to the fact that we allow the big tech to know us better than we know ourselves and because of that, we gave them the tools to control us.
Do you hope to create more games in this style? Or hope others look to this game as the start of a new style of game?
We hope that adding gameplay and interactivity to comics will give them a second life and make the medium more viable for young audiences. In addition to this, we feel like we captured the feeling of collecting and reading comics, and now you are also a part of the story during the gameplay elements of the game.
We would love to do more of this type of games, so your feedback is crucial to us. hopefully, you will try Liberated and tell us what you think about our new formula. You can join our Discord, or our social media (Facebook – Twitter) to tell us what you think. We will be grateful for this.
**End of Q&A**
Is Liberated worth it?
Liberated is completely unique in its design and the ambitiousness of the developers to take on such a risk is commendable. Yes, the game has its flaws, most notably the gameplay. But it is a means to an end, And the end in question is oh so worth it. No first of its kind game is ever perfect. But Liberated comes pretty damn close at the first attempt.
If you are a gameplay driven player who cares little for a solid story, then this game probably isn’t for you. On the other hand, if you are the sort of player that gets sucked in to an immersive story. This is a match made in heaven.
Essentially as you are paying for 4 fantastically written and designed interactive comic books. With the price at launch being just $15.99 / EUR €15.99 / GBP £14.39 that works out little over £3.50 for each issue of this storytelling masterpiece, which for me is most definitely worth it. The first of it’s kind and I’m happy to say that I was there to experience the birth of a new video game sub-genre.
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**Please Note – This game was supplied to us for review, This in no way swayed our opinion. as covered in our Review Policy**