Surveillance is out of control, technology is numbing the minds of the masses, and the government (or corporations, or some combination thereof) has become fascist and corrupt, stripping freedoms and assassinating dissidents in the name of security. That familiar premise has been utilized again and again in works ranging from 1984 to Westworld, and it’s also the state of the world in Liberated, a cyberpunk-ish side-scrolling action game that’s as much comic book as video game. The tech dystopia is well-worn territory in movies, books, comics, and video games, and Liberated offers little that hasn’t been done better elsewhere.
Liberated’s story is pretty much a carbon copy of its more interesting inspirations. The same is true with its frustrating side-scroller gameplay, which is both overly simplistic and often frustrating. It’s unfortunate that the playable parts and the story that are meant to drive the game can’t match up to its gorgeous, comics-inspired art style–paging through all those great-looking panels will make you wonder if Liberated wouldn’t have made a pretty good comic, instead of a lackluster game.
To be fair, Liberated’s story is mostly a comic book. The game is presented as though you’re reading through four volumes of a graphic novel of the same name. As you pass over panel after panel, you’ll occasionally pause on one that becomes a playable side-scrolling level, where you’re generally tasked with shooting a lot of enemies, or hiding from them and breaking their necks as they pass by.