PAX West 2022: Freedom Games Hands-On Preview

The Freedom To Share Amazing Indie Visions

 

Freedom Games | 9 Years of Shadows

I was privileged to meet with a ton of talented developers and publishers at PAX West. But one I was especially excited about were the folks at Freedom Games. Over the last couple years, they’ve quickly made a name for themselves as a publisher of eclectic and compelling indie adventures, from Anuchard to Dark Deity and recently released Coromon. They’ve been on a roll lately, but they’re far from done. I got to check out three distinct titles with them this year – 9 Years of Shadows, Mail Time and Tracks of Thought. Below I’ll list my impressions in the order I demoed the games.

Freedom Games | Tracks of Thought Logo

Tracks of Thought is a beautifully animated game developed by Tidbits Play. It takes place on a train, and you play an enterprising young ladybug. Once everyone on board, except her, develops a strange case of amnesia, you’ll have to suss out what’s happening. I spent the first part of the demo wandering around, finding clues and helping the passengers out. Then once it transitioned to the deckbuilding component, I got to test out something a bit more action-packed. The game isn’t about defeating foes, but finding common ground using cards that represent emotional strategies. It’s quirky and pretty unique, as it’s more about working to understand strangers than defeat them.

Freedom Games | Tracks of Thought Characters

I really appreciated the overall style of Tracks of Thought, and found the writing was truly clever and funny. All of these creatures have a ton of personality, and it’s clear the story could be something special. My only issue with the demo was that I experienced a couple of technical issues. First the gamepad didn’t have a prompt to pick up an item, but I was able to do so with keyboard and mouse. Later, I was in the midst of enjoying the card game, and it suddenly froze on me. Other than those, I truly enjoyed playing the game. If you’re interested in what you’ve heard, you’ll be happy to hear Tracks of Thought will be coming to Steam and Epic.

Freedom Games | Mail Time

Next up, I got to play a game I’ve been eager to try called Mail Time. Developed by Kela Van Der Deijl, it’s a cottagecore platformer about delivering mail and exploring a whimsical world. You play a novice Mail Scout in Grumblewood Grove. While this isn’t a game about defeating foes, I love the focus on platforming and the freedom to go wherever you can. Nominally the demo was about delivering mail, but once I finished that my real experience opened up.

Mail Time | Glide

I had remembered previously hearing the developer say Mail Time was built with both experts and casual platformers in mind. As such, I immediately set out on a quest to find all the hidden bottle caps in the demo stage. I discovered I could climb the tree branches much higher than intended, and that’s how I found one well hidden cap. I actually tried to go as high as possible, and started to get dizzy from my vantage point. Regardless, Mail Time is clearly a game built for many types of gamers. If you like something relaxing and cozy, here’s the good news. It’s coming to Steam, Epic and Nintendo Switch!

Freedom Games | 9 Years of Shadows

Now we only have one more Freedom Games title to cover, and I managed to save the best for last. To be transparent real quick, I was a backer of 9 Years of Shadows. As a backer, I’m extremely happy to see how the game has developed and grown since I helped fund it. I’m a pretty big fan of the Metroidvania genre, and this is shaping up to be an incredible example under the guidance of developer Halberd Studios.

The demo starts in stark black and white. You wander about a massive castle, trying to open doors and finding your way forward. The demo taught me the basics, running, jumping and attacking. Then they threw a giant monster at me. This horrifying shade chased after me, and if it touched my character, I instantly died. I finally got through the gauntlet, and was forced to fight the boss as it shifted form for battle. Though I held my own, once the boss got angry it charged up and instantly defeated me. But that wasn’t where the demo ended.

Freedom Games | 9 Years of Shadows Setting

I suddenly awoke to a world of brilliant color. Not only that, but I got a projectile familiar to shoot distant switches and foes. I got to explore the rejuvenated castle, and found a musician in need of help. Following his quest through the castle led to a massive mini boss, armed with a sword and shield. I fought valiantly and managed to defeat the creature, only to find a new powerup. This infused my character with the electricity of Zeus, and I could suddenly open new paths and deal additional damage to specifically colored foes. I was really impressed with 9 Years of Shadows, and am excited that it’s coming to pretty much everything – PC, Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox One and Series X|S!

There you have my impressions from my time with Freedom Games. Be sure and check out the trailers for all three games below. And stay tuned to HPP for more exciting news from the talented indie publisher!

Josh Speer
Got my start in the industry at oprainfall, but been a game fanatic since I was young. Indie / niche advocate and fan of classics like Mega Man, Castlevania and Super Metroid. Enjoys many genres, including platformers, turn based / tactical RPGs, rhythm and much more. Champion of PAX West and Knight of E3.

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