On the bottom level of the convention center housing PAX East, inhabits a sprawling show-floor filled wall to wall with video games of all shapes and sizes that are all vying for your attention. You would need more than the mere four days that PAX East embodies in order to actually play everything that is being showcased. As we were recapping our first day of PAX over some local craft beer in the Westin lobby, Joe kept mentioning “the middle finger game” as one of his favorite finds in the Indie Megabooth.
After listening to him rave about it for a few hours, someone else bumped into us– who shares a passion for indie games as well– and had brought up one of their favorite games of the show so far by extending out his middle finger in my face. So naturally the next day I had to get all of my digits on Freedom Finger— a unique, cartoon stylized shoot ’em up with some interesting quirks and gameplay elements that grabbed my interest as soon as we stepped up to the Wide Right Games booth.
Freedom Finger is anything but your typical bullet hell, scrolling space shooter. With gameplay elements that align with other games in the genre, Freedom Finger introduces a punching and grabbing mechanic to offer depth to your play-style across 36 hand drawn levels. Being a flying fist, the punching mechanic allows you to thrust your ship forward slightly to pummel what is flying towards you. While the more interesting grab mechanic allows you to snatch up certain enemies and use them as your weapon or shield depending on what that enemy is. This ability offers up a clever twist on upgrading your ship while you are scouring the reverie created by Travis Millard.
Artistically, Freedom Finger boasts a style that looks like your favorite Saturday morning cartoon and Beavis and Butthead merged to create something that looks welcoming and familiar but also idiosyncratic in delineation. From the cutscenes, to the level and enemy design, the fabrication of everything that occupies each stage in Freedom Finger, coupled with the extensive list of bands contributing to the setlist, results in an almost psychedelic yet chilled out experience. Which pairs well with the frantic and at times punishing– depending on what difficulty you’re playing on– gameplay of Freedom Finger.
The music in Freedom Finger does more than just add to the ambience of this Sunday morning comic book turned shoot ’em up though. The enemies and boss patterns are synchronized with the melodies allowing you to find solace in the rhythm. Anytime a game utilizes it’s sound design in ways that connect to the gameplay always enhance the experience deeper and result in a video game that leaves an impression.
On top of everything else, Freedom Finger paints a portrait beyond its audio and visual design. With the likes of Nolan North, John DiMaggio, Eric Bauza, and Sam Riegel acting out a zany, satirical story covering a variety of topics from political to nonsensical, this comical narrative adds another level of depth to the outlandish gameplay and artistic direction.
Freedom Finger felt like a tightly controlled adventure through an artist’s sketchbook come to life and I cannot wait to get my hands on the final release. With quality gameplay, strikingly original art, a star studded cast of voice actors and musicians, Freedom Finger is on track to be a standout shmup in this generation of gaming.
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