Review – Freekscape: Escape from Hell
Developer: Kid Guru Studios
Publisher: Creat Studios
US Release Date: April 08th 2010
Price: $4.99 | £3.99 | €4.99 | HK$ 38.00
ESRB Rating: Everyone
What I Liked:
- Funny creatures
- Slick guitar licks
What I Disliked:
- 2.5D tracks glitching out
- Stupid difficulty
I love a good sidescroller. I jumped at the opportunity to give this one a shot. All I walked away with was a feeling that I was wasting my time.
Freekscape puts you in control of Freek, a good demon, who doesn’t like to torture poor souls. He discovers the magic trident and sets forth to try and get into heaven. Thus begins our adventure. Each level has a chili pepper or seal to collect. These are usually in strange areas and add to the exploration of each level. Collecting the right chili peppers can open up new paths in later levels… leading you to more seals and chili peppers. Each level also has speedrun and freekrun time accomplishments. When I would spend 5 minutes on a level, the speedrun time was usually something like 45 seconds. If you end up digging this game, this will keep you coming back, adding to the replay value to the 40 levels included. Freek is controlled with the analog stick, and the camera is controlled with the D-pad. This made the game a bit awkward and I was surprised to see no option to change that setting.
Even though you’re in hell, who would have thought it has mellow clean guitar licks playing in the background. I enjoyed these; they were calming and very chill. The character models are 3d, this works, but for this kind of puzzler, I wonder if something like cell shading would suit it better. Not an ugly game by all means, but not a beautiful one either.
Back to gameplay, Freek’s trident lets you acquire abilities of other creatures walking around. Some are used as stepping stones; other makes your trident an umbrella or a pogo stick. Every time you grab one, Freek says the name of the creature which is kind of funny. You combine these abilities to solve puzzles that usually involve opening timed doors that block your exit. They start out rather simple, fling a block guy over to a switch and walk through the door, but eventually they get unnecessarily complicated.
I found that the difficulty isn’t in figuring out the puzzles, but in executing them. Nothing bugs me more in a puzzle game when the difficulty isn’t in solving the puzzle. Here’s a quick example. I come to a door that needs opened, and I understand I have to throw a block at this switch and then use a pogo stick to get up to the door. The rub comes when you see that the timer on the switch is only 5 seconds long, meaning your moves have to be absolutely precise. You turn around to grab the pogo stick; you mistimed your jump with its wonky aiming and have to start over. These kinds of puzzles come up constantly.
Each level follows this recipe. Some throw new monsters into the fray, meaning new gimmicks to learn and add to your repertoire. I thought the umbrella was rather useful, until it kept biting me and biting me and biting me until I glitched off the path and died. Speaking of glitching off the path, I encountered this quite a bit. If it wasn’t me getting thrown off the side, it was the monster that I was trying to carry numerous platforms away from its spawn point to solve the puzzles in my way. Once again it comes down to the difficulty in the actual engine, not the puzzles.
Do I sound frustrated? Damn right I do. I usually enjoy this genre, but Freekscape didn’t do it for me.