Early Access can be a double edged sword for indie developers. If a game is received well, the developers might not be able to handle all the feedback they get, and then give up. Conversely, if it’s received poorly, the developers might cut their losses and give up. Sometimes though, there are games that have a good stay in Early Access, and come through the other side still going strong. Freeman: Guerilla Warfare is one game that is due to enter Early Access on the 2nd of February, with the idea to continue building the game until it is ready – the idea being it would be ‘complete’ in late 2018.
Planning is everything
Freeman: Guerilla Warfare is a game that seeks to combine a number of genres – tactical strategy, first person shooter and world conquest. These three genres are quite deep genres on their own, but Freeman does well in combining them into one. For the most part, you’ll be roaming around on the overworld, building a base, recruiting new soldiers for your cause and that is surprisingly deep for a game only just in Early Access. My favourite part of the game was the combat though. You start off setting up your troops in positions on the battlefield, and then you can join them on it. Scouting out the area to locate the opponent, then sneaking up behind them and taking them out before they know it is so much fun. You can genuinely feel like you’re a master tactician when you successfully flank an opponent and slaughter all of those standing in front of you. Even at this early stage in development, it’s surprisingly well developed.
Another thing that took my eye is how replayable it is. I restarted a couple of times, and it was different each time. Instead of taking on familiar foes and forging allegiances with the same old people, you have to find your way in a whole new world every time. There are always dozens of different settlements and various different units out in the field. As with the actual situation of trying to form your own revolutionary settlement, you have to be able to think quickly. Identify your friends, and more importantly, your enemies. Your job is made slightly easier in the game, as you don’t have to do any reconnaissance to work out who is friend or foe, but you do still have to make decisions about who to attack, and when.
Something to add to the road map
KK Game Studio, the developers, have actually got a pretty good road map for the next twelve months, with features they wish to include in the final version of the game, but I do notice a glaring omission. In their road map, much like their game, there is no tutorial. I learned a small amount from the ‘Instruction’ screen, but it’s incredibly flawed. Without a tutorial or proper introduction to the game, I didn’t feel connected with it. I picked up what I was supposed to do – probably – but I didn’t really care that much about it. Sure, it’s cool to take over the world with your army, but what if you’re the bad guys? I mean, I wouldn’t be against the idea that I’m the bad guy, I’d just like a bit of clarification on my role in this world. Not telling me this, or how to properly play the game, is absolutely unforgivable. It’s a fairly punishing game as well, so if your tactics are off, or you’re not stealthy enough in the field, you’ll quickly die and lose a chunk of your personal army. No matter what game you’ve developed, if you don’t give your players a chance, you’ll not have too many takers.
The Final Word
If KK Game Studio manage to complete their list of potential additions to the game – and include a tutorial – then it’s going to be a pretty excellent game. It’s already quite fun, especially the first person sections of the game, but every part has it’s charm. It’s got bits that everyone will thoroughly enjoy, and I do hope that in twelve months time, once it’s out of Early Access, I’ll be able to be as positive on it as I am now.