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Freedom Planet 2 (Switch) Review

by Joel A. DeWitte - April 2, 2024, 9:00 am EDT


A Sonic-like sequel that ratches up the fun.

While I’ve always had admiration for Nintendo and the mustached plumber, my gaming teeth were cut on the Sega Genesis, and my 2D platformer first love, like most from that generation, was Sonic the Hedgehog. The “gotta go fast” meme is well trodden (and sometimes well deserved) ground, but the first entry in the series’ hallmark was a character with slow base movement that became unwieldy with momentum and a stage format which fools the player into thinking they can zoom through with reckless abandon before running smack-dab into a robot or spike pit. Sonic the Hedgehog 2’s spin dash made any moment a boost-able one, creating the possibility for players to make self-inflicted wounds at the drop of a down arrow + button. It’s in this spirit that we get Freedom Planet 2, the second in GalaxyTrail’s attempt to recapture that experience while expanding itself into something wholly original.

Freedom Planet 2’s 2D side-scrolling is fast, blisteringly so. Sash Lilac, the water Dragon humanoid character I mostly played as, is lighter in weight that teeters on the edge of floaty. Comparatively to Sonic, she goes from zero-to-one hundred and pump the breaks in half the time. If you’re looking for the spin dash equivalent, you got it in multi-directional spades. Direct forward and she’ll jump start her run. Choose an upward direction and she blasts off like a shooting star for a handful of seconds before coming down to earth. In retro Sonic games he’s heavy, Sash is barely constrained by gravity. When it comes to making motion feel good, some sense of weight is important, but more importantly the consistency of weight & momentum against the backdrop & level design. In this game’s case, that might be one of the largest departures from its inspiration.

Freedom Planet’s level structure is spacious. Abundant loop de loops are littered across the stages, but the dash move almost reminds me of the Super Mario World cape in that it’s a tool that allows the player to outright skip through sections of levels. If you want to slow your roll and explore, there are items worth digging through nooks & crannies for the “stop and smell the roses'' players. Blue crystal shards spread throughout are currency used to grant extra lives. Red flowers drop petals that refill the health meter. Treasure chests and wooden crates can drop additional goodies including speed boosts and guardian orbs that can assist in protection & battle. Vinyl records unlock music tracks that can be played by NPCs in township areas. The game takes a “jack of all trades'' approach, which comes with trade-offs. There's a jank in Sonic’s core level design that always felt more like a consequence of not being able to keep up with the blue blur than design choice. Here the game tries to accommodate several modes of play which is great for options, but at the sacrifice of tightly constructed levels. One could argue that if you’re given options, it’s up to you to play a way that suits you, but there could have been more refinements to make a crisper experience.

Integrated with level design is a robust slew of enemies, and Sash Lilac’s toolkit of moves makes her a deadly force. An attack button has dynamic actions based on directional input, like holding up turns into an uppercut. She can string together decent combos and her dodge button is a necessary mechanism, especially when reaching deeper into the campaign. Her speed boost is not only useful in mobility but also cuts through enemies she passes through. I used combat sparingly through the levels because of how easily they can be zoomed by, but the large-scale boss battles that end cap each stage will force players’ hands to engage with those systems. Most of these bosses have individual nodes that need to be popped, which will gradually whittle down their health to zero. The boss zones have some of the same scope problems – sometimes the area is so wide that it’s easy to lose track of the boss. Where they’re most fun is in tightly compacted areas that forced me to think strategically beyond spamming the dash. Those limitations made the enemy patterns feel more tailored to that battle rather than something that was just kind of plopped into a wide screen, and usually took place at story-critical points. I expect the choice to have a boss for every level resulted in this, and while I think it’s good to have a crescendo at the end of levels, they do at times feel rote.

It could be easy to overlook the finer details of the artistry at play when moving at the speed of sound. It’s impressive the amount of detail that was put into the stage's multi-layered backdrops, with a color palette that doesn’t feel same-y from level to level. Special effects from item pick-ups to attack moves pop on screen which not only adds a visual flair but gives each of them a bit of added character. The lead cast has very distinct features and the broader world of humanoid animals have distinct personalities that are reflected both in how they’re drawn, the animations they were given, and a voice cast which adds a good sense of drama. The chiptune soundtrack is well suited to the zones they’re tied to, though you’re not going to hear something as instantly memorable like Green Hill Zone, which might be too high a bar to expect.

What I'm looking for are tightly defined spaces, logical sense of locomotion & consistent character design in my 2D platformers. While it wears the inspiration on their sleeve, Freedom Planet 2 struck out to build something grander in scale with a panache I have respect for. Even if the ambitions to make a play-your-way experience ends up flattening the experience a bit, it’s a minor quibble to my overall positive impression of the experience. Freedom Planet 2 accomplishes the most important test – it is FUN, and the extensive character and environmental diversity makes this adventure a worthy one.


  • Genuinely fun combat
  • Great art with attention to detail
  • The right mix of weight & momentum
  • Combat is non-critical besides bosses
  • One size fits all level design
  • Some bosses feel rote

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Game Profile

Genre Action
Developer GalaxyTrail Games
Players1 - 2

Worldwide Releases

na: Freedom Planet 2
Release Apr 04, 2024
PublisherXseed Games

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