While Shovel Knight brought the classic NES platformer to the modern era, it’s analogue to Sega devices has gotten a bit less attention. Freedom Planet brings the type of style and feel you’d expect from Sega Genesis platformers, especially of the Sonic variety, and does it properly much like how Shovel Knight did in standing out from the crowd of indie platformers. Both are prime examples of taking classic game ideas and bringing them to the modern era with a wonderful melding of both.
It comes as little surprise than that, lacking the amount of promised add-ons that Shovel Knight had from Crowdfunding, that GalaxyTrail (the team behind Freedom Planet) has moved onto creating the sequel and making an even better title. Freedom Planet 2 was announced this past week with a new trailer and website that showed off the characters and explained some of the details about the upcoming sequel, as well as providing a tentative target date for the Beta. Before we go any further though, I’ll stop and let you all watch the trailer…
Now that we’re all done oohing and awing over the excellent trailer, let’s go over the information that is available about the game. The first thing to note is that many things are returning from the first game, some of which you may have gathered from the trailer. The core game play and focus on balancing speed and exploration returns, as does the mix of level design of hills and knocking enemies around. The three heroines, Lilac, Carol, and Milla will all be returning as well as their signature abilities like Lilac’s hair whip and darting about, Carol’s climbing and motorcycle, or Milla’s ability to summon energy blocks and deflector shields. Another notable return is the split of Adventure and Classic mode as the players who wanted to play with or without cutscene story were pretty evenly split, so you’ll be able to in Freedom Planet 2 likewise choose how you want to play the game.
That said there are going to be some changes, to help meet the idea of helping Freedom Planet find it’s complete own identity that isn’t as rooted in nostalgia. There’s several levels to this, with things like the Heroines having had several years between Freedom Planet 1 and 2 to grow up and get formal training. This also fits with a shift in art direction (and apparently avoid as much comparisons to Sonic in the future… even if all comparisons are complimentary and generally mixed with a shaking finger at Sega). While not listed on the page in question, they are also using the Unity Engine now, and have brought in a new team member who has worked on setting up their engine there, and will make porting to non-PC and Wii-U consoles easier in the future.
There are some new mechanics that may impact the game more dramatically. Difficulty Customization takes the idea of a more recent trend of avoiding simple ‘easy, normal, hard’ and instead going with things that create a more personalized difficulty set up. You’ll be able to set up things like like adding more lives, altering attack damage, and a lot more that hasn’t been announced yet there. Interestingly, they are implementing this in level and on a stage by stage set up. You can change it by finding special Gold Gems in the stage, or you can craft your own by fusing regular crystals to help tilt the odds of a difficult encounter or level in your favor. It will also remove the somewhat immersion and gamed aspect of opening the menu, turning the difficulty down for the area, and then turning it back up, instead turning it into a journey you are going on with your character to help get a key advantage.
Guarding is coming to the game, creating a situation where characters will be able to not rely on just their special moves to avoid damage. Guarding will be a specific action you can take to summon a very temporary shield by tapping a button to block or parry attacks. Particularly powerful or long duration attacks can’t be completely blocked, but summoning the guard at the right time can help reduce the damage of significantly in those situations and overall the addition will allow players and designers some more options in design.
The last big mechanical change is the addition of Revivals. An interesting way to bring the lives mechanic into the game, the Revivals idea is that sure you can get back at your checkpoint as per normal, or you could instead spend one of your extra lives when you die to resurrect there with a limited amount of life petals. An anti-frustration feature, it’s meant to help with situations where you’ve been a long while from a checkpoint or towards the end of the boss fight and need just a little big more to get through. In Boss Fights, you’ll be able to trade off the resource to make it just a bit easier in coming back with limited life petals and a few seconds of invincibility to strike further blows. In open levels, it might be the thing that stops you from trashing your screen because it’s been a while since you last hit a check point. One thing to know: you can’t revive if the body is disintegrated.
As mentioned there is a date listed – with the hopes for a complete beta ready for Mid-2017 with the possibility of a public demo before then. If they are able to make that schedule, they would be probably launching in Q3 or 4 of 2017. There are no plans to seek crowdfunding for Freedom Planet 2.
As someone who’s first console was a Sega Genesis I have really enjoyed Freedom Planet and the amount of care and work being put into the sequel shows I think. They are looking not to make a pot boiler do the same thing, but looking at natural evolution possibilities of the series and creating some new experiences for players to have. I really like the set up of difficulty customization in theory and the other changes look like they are being well thought out on how they are being executed as well as some of the trade-offs. While i’ll play it on PC, bringing it to Unity means it will have a larger possibility for releases and more people will be able to play – something I wholly approve of!