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Growing up on a steady diet of comic books was one of the most fun things about my childhood. When I got introduced to graphic novels later on, it turned out to be an eye-opener. The opportunity to see fiction in a new light, experiencing mature stories with incredible artwork has been a rite of passage for most comic-book lovers. The creators of Liberated ask: but, what’s next? This brand-new indie game from Polish studio Atomic Wolf and L.INC, and published by Walkabout, boldly experiments with the art format to create something unique – a playable graphic novel.

One question remains: does this gamble pay off? Well, let’s find out!

Story & Narrative

Liberated is set in the not-so-far future – in a city not much different from ours, populated by people not much dissimilar than us and ensconced in an Orwellian world’s politics indistinguishable than our contemporary world. Without taking names and pointing fingers, haven’t we already seen a credit system for citizens that provides points for good social behavior? Non-violent protests being banned? Police brutality? Democracies that feel like authoritarian regimes? Fake news being peddled through mass media? People ready to sacrifice their privacy for safety? The toxic conversations on social networks? Invasive facial recognition systems and drones that monitor your every move? A world where the authorities think you have nothing to hide if you haven’t done anything wrong? What is the price of true freedom?

Drats. That turned out to be too heavy of a discourse for a video game review. Let’s pivot to pop culture references before the ever-watching Big Brother catches us!

From the Matrix-like introduction of its hacker protagonist ‘Barry’ who tries to run away from the police, the gritty Sin City and Max Payne-esque neo-noir detective Frank caught in a battle of self-doubt, to its V for Vendetta and Mr. Robot-like masks used by the eponymous rebel-activist group for anonymity: Liberated wears its inspiration proudly on its sleeves. The narrative of the story shuttles between multiple perspectives from both sides of the conflict, further muddling the fine line between good and bad. The story moves at a brisk pace, and even though some parts were predictable, it often surprised me with its twists!

There are some moments, where you can choose your responses, and make key decisions in the story – but they are indeed few. Collectible data documents provide you with some insight into the backstory and there are cool flashbacks where the comic pages flip back to let you in on what really happened. The only gripe that I have with the story is that it’s too short. I completed the main game and its free DLCs within 5 hours, and I was left wanting more! The story desperately calls out for closure and you are bound to end it with a mixed sense of unfulfillment and enjoyment.

Gameplay & Mechanics

With all of the brave experiments that Liberated does with its story and visuals, the game remains uncharacteristically timid in its gameplay. We are faced with the usual suspects in this side-scroller – serviceable stealth mechanics like tiptoeing across and hiding behind cover, barebones shooting that hampers the game’s difficulty and stilted movement animations that do not blend consecutive actions well.

You use your mouse clicks to advance between panels inside the game, but weirdly, the menu lacks a pointer. The physics engine makes the dead bodies flail across wildly when you cross them – spoiling the grim mood of the story by bringing in an unintended comic element. There are way too many quick-time events (QTE) incorporated in the game that is bound to annoy a lot of folks.

Does that mean Liberated does not have any positives? Well, it does but strangely avoids reusing them. The hacking puzzles are unique, environmental puzzles provide a break from the run and gun action, planting mines to clear a room of hostiles, and the times the game hands you different weapons feels extra special! There are certain limitations present as expected from an indie game, but I wish some of the items in this world were interactive. Liberated has a lot of potential – but it misses the mark in this regard. A little bit of polish and a few new gameplay elements would have taken the game a long way.

Visuals, Sound & Performance

Liberated hits a home-run in the visuals department. The stylish comic book style blends the story and gameplay elements seamlessly. Drawing inspirations from games like XIII and The Walking Dead that flirted with the comic-book genre, Liberated takes it a step further. Each frame and panel is delightfully hand-drawn and animated – characters move in with fluid grace and speech bubbles don’t feel crowded.

The environment drips with that grim post-truth atmosphere and the layered background score is enough to make you feel paranoid about being monitored. The sound design jumps from the frenetic techno beats of action to the low pulsating industrial hums of stealth sections. The voiceovers are good and make you feel immersed in the story.

Something that I thought was a missed opportunity – a splash page or even a spread showcasing the scale of the world, or perhaps a nailbiting action scene. As a comic aficionado, I can bet that is something we look forward to!


Liberated is a bold and innovative experiment that merges the visual charm of comic books and graphic novels with the interactivity of video games. It boasts of a short yet fantastic story that talks about the world we live in – the perils of losing democracy and the pitfalls of absolute surveillance. The gameplay has good puzzle elements, and the stealth and combat, though simple, do not detract from the elements that work well. It’s an indie game that has perhaps given birth to a new trend in the industry and deserves to be praised for its efforts!

Disclaimer: Review copy provided by the developers with no riders. Check out our review policy for more details.

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