PAX South: Freedom Planet 2 Hands-On – A New Kind Of Sonic Speed

by Robert Workman

Freedom 2

GalaxyTrail’s Freedom Planet came along at just the right time when it released quite a while back. Sega’s Sonic the Hedgehog games were failing to impress at the time (with whatever the hell Sonic Boom: Rise of Lyric was on the Wii U), and Planet did an exceptional job mimicking the Sonic style of gameplay, while at the same time creating exquisite new worlds in a 16-bit style manner.

Of course, this year’s a little different, with Sega finally getting on the ball with the retro-tastic Sonic Mania and the forthcoming Project Sonic 2017. But we’re more than happy to take another go-around of Freedom Planet, which GalaxyTrail will be delivering sometime this year for PC and consoles. There’s room for both, especially with the game feeling just as good as the original.

GalaxyTrail had the game on the show floor at PAX South this year, so if you’re around this weekend, you can still drop by and check it out. The game lets you choose from various characters (we went with the lizard-ish Carol for our go-around), and then sets you loose as you speed through levels, utilizing melee attacks to knock enemies for a loop and carve your way through hedges so you can continue onward.

Like the original game, Freedom Planet 2 is really fair when it comes to its hit system. Rather than dying after losing all your rings and getting hit again, you can take several hits over the course of your run, and refill gems along the way to keep your health from diminishing. That’s good, because the elaborate level design packs peril at every turn, whether it’s spinning blades popping out of the ground, or flying mini-tanks that fire bullets at you. Fortunately, you can carve through most of these enemies and continue on your merry little way.

Freedom 2

Freedom Planet 2’s visual set-up is similar to that of the original game, with a 16-bit style aesthetic and beautiful animations that come to life with nary a hint of slowdown. What’s more, the bigger levels and diverse enemy design go a long way as well. The team doesn’t overhaul the Freedom Planet formula, it simply excels it – and that should be enough to get fans revved up.

And the motorcycle is back! With this, you actually go faster through levels, and can perform all kinds of neat tricks, like a mid-air double flip (to get to higher areas) and being able to slide on railings. (Carol’s facial expression while hanging onto a rail and the motorcycle beneath her is priceless.) It’s a great additive that makes the game zip along even faster.

The level was short but sweet, and it set the stage for a huge boss battle, with a creature that rolled up into a ball and used robotic pinchers to try and take hold of your character. It also performed ground slams, generating small flames on the ground to jump over. It was a traditional boss design for something you’d find in a Sonic game, feeling right at home in the world of Freedom.

The game’s still a work in progress, so Freedom Planet 2 doesn’t have an exact release date just yet. But it’s sure to come sometime later this year, destined for PC and yet unspecified platforms. If it’s any bit as good as the first game – which it’s shaping up to be – then we’re in for a wild run indeed.

By Robert Workman

Robert Workman has spent years working in the video game industry, for sites like Shacknews, AOL GameDaily and Marooners Rock. He's also very skilled in contributing to podcasts and video broadcasts, and can pretty much out-game you under the table. Oh, and just go ahead and ask him about glorious craft beers. Go on, ask him.