Freekscape is the third mini from Creat Studios, with Bubble Trubble and Alien Havoc being the first two, and it’s probably the best one out of the three. The game was developed for Creat by Kidguru Studios in San Paulo, Brazil, where there’s clearly a lot of talent because this is one very cool game!
Freekscape is essentially a puzzler/platformer centred around the trials and tribulations of Freek, a devilish little hero who is forced to perform boring, menial tasks all day as punishment for refusing to do dastardly and fiendish deeds for Beel, the Lord of Hell. One day Freek finds the key to the treasure room that contains the sacred trident, which inspires him to try and find his way out of Hell and up to Heaven, using the trident to “stick” creatures so that he can use them for his own ends.
What follows is a beautifully put together platform-puzzler, with lush graphics and lashing of charm and wit, as well as varied gameplay with lots of different challenges, both mental and physical.
It’s the little touches that really make the game, such as the fact that many locations in Hell’s Domain are clearly a tip of the (horned) hat to hard rock and heavy metal songs, such as Paradise Stick and Sticking in the Name! Definitely made me chuckle, as did the crazy personalities of all the different Hell denizens, such as the Hug Blocks that coo “‘ello!” at you before trapping you in their overly ardent embrace, or the slightly unhinged rockabilly music, or the fact that Freek sometimes burps loudly instead of whistling!
The cutscenes that link the 15 levels are also beautifully illustrated, and generally speaking it really does feel like Kidguru have tried to pack as much as they can into the game to provide maximum value for money and playability.
The controls are very easy to master – the ones that you’ll probably be using the most are the analog stick to move, X to jump, and R to stick creatures with your trident and then perform actions with them, such as bouncing up and down on the Oingo Boingos and using them as pogo sticks!
Other controls that you’ll find yourself using occasionally are O to whistle to get a creature to attack you, Square to dump or throw a creature that has been stuck on the end of your trident, and Triangle (when prompted) to read instructions.
Because you’re in Hell, you can’t actually be hurt by the creatures that are roaming around, the worst that can happen is that they’ll knock you over the edge and you’ll have to restart from the last checkpoint, but there are plenty of checkpoints so you won’t have to retrace your steps too far, and it never gets too frustrating.
There’s lots of old-school style platform jumping, but mixed with that there are plenty of inventive puzzles to solve – different creatures respond in different ways when you stick them with your trident, and the trick is in working out how best to use the critters at your disposal to help you cross a particular lava lake (Hug Blocks) or to batter down a certain barrier (Head Crackers). And even when you occasionally get stuck and can’t figure out what to do, it’s a great feeling when you eventually manage to solve the puzzle.
Although the general location seems to stay pretty much the same throughout (Hell!), with lots of lava and fire and brimstone and such, the levels have a wonderful richness of color about them, and the various hell denizens are so well animated that you shouldn’t find yourself getting bored with your surroundings.
Overall there’s a lot of depth to the gameplay – aside from trying to reach the exit, there are also peppers to find and collect in order to activate certain pepper portals. At the end of each level your best time is also shown, so even when you’ve unlocked everything you might still want to keep going back to better your high scores.
To sum up, if you like platform-puzzlers and quirky cartoon-style graphics, you’ll absolutely love Freekscape. It’s one of the most polished and accomplished minis out there at the moment, setting a very high standard for others to follow.