One cool thing about PAX East 2020 is seeing all the great independent games that are on the horizon. This includes Liberated, a new side-scrolling adventure from the developers at Atomic Wolf. We only caught a glimpse of what it was about last year at the PAX West event, but this weekend, we went hands-on to see how it all comes together. There’s really something magical here, especially for those that appreciate dystopian comic book tales.

The future is bleak

The game takes place in a society where the government has completely taken control. Some people seem fine with it, but there are members of a resistance that want things to be free. They are the “Liberated,” and you play a young new recruit who aims to make a difference. So he steps up to help others, with his gun in hand.

That’s not to say Liberated leans too much on action. Sure, you could shoot your way out of scenarios when the situation calls for it. But based on the setting where Liberated comes from, stealth can be your greatest asset.

There are places you can hide within the environment where enemies won’t spot you, and you can turn the tables with a stealth take-out. Sometimes you have no choice, but learning the cautious route and scoring a satisfying takedown is pretty cool.

Drawing for the future

Liberated Atomic Wolf

If push comes to shove and gunplay does have to enter the picture, Liberated handles it pretty well. You can use the right analog stick to aim, with a targeting line appearing to show where your shots will go. It’s fairly accurate, though you’ll need to be quick on the draw in some situations. That’s because enemies will come at you from all sides, and you have to take them out before they take you down. Fortunately, there wasn’t one situation we couldn’t get out of over the course of the demo.

There’s also a segment in which you use a drone to help you get a jump on adversaries. In it, you have to move the drone through a barely lit stage, dropping off explosives in timely spots. After you drop the five it can carry, a countdown begins, and the charges explode seconds later. But here’s the thing – the drone blows up as well, so you can take out six targets. With enough strategic placing, you can clear a room before you even enter it. This is only in spots, but it’s a cool effect.

Where Liberated really stands out is its beautiful art style. The game works on a black-and-white design that really shines. What’s more, it does everything with a comic book-style flair. The pages literally flip as you go from certain stages, showing you what’s happening with speech windows and word effects. “BLAM!”, that sort of thing. It looks really great and should appeal to fans of that sort of thing.

An open book

We only played through two short chapters of Liberated thus far, but there’s something here to get hooked on. There’s a good reliance on stealth gameplay, but you don’t necessarily have to take that route if you don’t want to. The game has sufficient action and unfolds everything in a style that works in its favor.

You can check it out for yourself when it arrives on Steam this summer. Make sure to wishlist it, and check out the trailer below.

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