Note: The price tags listed are at time of purchase which may have been during a limited sale.
I will always remember the moment at the end of Metal Gear Solid 3, after you’ve defeated your mentor in battle and, in the cutscene, Boss asks you to kill her. Then, the cinematic ends, and you’re left standing over her. It slowly dawns on you that they are going to make you press the button, essentially pull the trigger. They put her death in the player’s hands. So, you press the button, and it sucks. You feel awful. At least I did. Buzz. Kill. It was the first time I experienced cognitive dissonance on an emotional level as a video game player. Liberated is a side-scroller shooter that puts you in a dystopian society in which an authoritarian government and police force have taken control. You begin the game as a hacker who is appropriated by a group of liberation terrorists who know the truth about why this society exists, and they will do everything they can to get that truth out to the public… who have all become a bunch of sheep. In this society, if your social network skills aren’t seen as positive, you will be seen as a potential problem.
Immediately, this game is far more timely than I was ready for it to be. Thankfully, the game is represented within the pages of a slick, black-and-white graphic novel, giving it an insanely cool, film noir-like mise en scene, so even though the subject matter of the story hits really close to home (curfews put into place by militant police!), the style in which it's told allows at least that level of separation from current events.
At the same time, the game puts you in difficult shoes to fill. You know that emotional cognitive dissonance I was referring to? Here is a full serving! Because of this, and the story that is being told, you really do feel the deaths in the game… and there are plenty of deaths... at your hands… many of them head shots from behind. The game mechanics are simple and really easy to get a handle on, though I remember being a lot faster with knowing where the A, B, X, Y buttons all were without thinking about it. I swear I used to be faster. The A.I. is a little slow on the uptake. They’ll walk over freshly dead bodies of their fallen comrades and not seem to notice, or see you one second and if you move away, it’s like you never existed. My only other gripe (and maybe this is only because I’m a writer) is that most of the dialogue is expository, otherwise known as needles in my eyeballs, but that’s a minor gripe.
Final word: Absolutely buy it. If this game influences comic book companies and gaming companies in the future, then we’re in for some amazing mixed media experiences.
Price at Time of Purchase: $19.99
Initial Release Date: April 2020
Developer: Atomic Wolf
Genre: Adventure storytelling platform shooter
Platforms: Steam, GOG, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Tcheco in the Castle of Lucio
I watched the trailer for Tcheco in the Castle of Lucio and immediately was taken back to the days in which arcades were a thing. Then, I watched another trailer, and it was so bizarre and wonderful that I laughed for about a minute afterwards. Tcheco is a Brazillian soccer player…is this character based on the real person? Or it may be that the trailer was just pulling everyone's legs. Though, soccer balls do show up in the game… Doesn’t matter.
I purchased thinking that this would be a fun, little sprint, but it’s actually a marathon that doesn’t get boring. You play as Tcheco, an 8-bit dude whose animations make me chuckle. You move Tcheco from one room to the next, overcoming all of the obstacles in his way. There are 60 rooms, and each room becomes more and more difficult and more and more absurd. When you lose all of your health bars… you start back at the first room! It’s all about memory and patterns.
Final word: I was having an absolute blast playing this game. The music changes up enough that I never got frustrated with that element. While the game is full-on retro from the incredibly authentic sound effects to the bonkers animations, it did not bring along with it the wonkiness of retro controls. The controls are simple, crisp, and smooth.
Price at Time of Purchase: $4.99
Developer: Marcelo Barbosa
Publisher: Marcelo Barbosa
Platform: Steam, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One