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Game Info:

Freeman: Guerrilla Warfare
Developed By: KK Game Studio
Published By: KK Game Studio
Released: Oct 4, 2019
Available On: PC
Genre: First-person shooter/ Real-time strategy
Number of Players: Single-player
ESRB Rating: Not rated
Price: $24.99
(Humble Store Link)

Thanks to KK Game Studio for the review code!

Gunshots ring out across the rolling hills of Cherniv as two factions clash in a minor skirmish; a routine event in the blood-soaked nation. But for you, it is a rare opportunity. You and your makeshift militia dive into the fray, surprising the enemy with a shower of bullets, sending them scrambling. Expecting this, you have ordered a squad to circle around and trap the terrorists in a pincer attack. Though your guerillas are poorly equipped, untrained, and untested, your strategies carry the day. You scavenge what you can from the bodies, one step closer to evening the odds that are stacked against you. That is, if you don't lose it all in the next fight.

Freeman: Guerilla Warfare is clearly a riff on the cult classic Mount and Blade: Warband, imported into a destabilized modern day setting, but that's no knock against it. The ‘strategy view’ of the game, where representations of your army move around on top of an abstract map, is nearly identical in form and function to TaleWorld’s 2010 release. Despite the major difference in setting, and the decade between them, this foundation is certainly a fit for Freeman.

You travel from town to town, completing tasks, buying and selling goods, and recruiting soldiers to your cause, while avoiding dangerous enemies and pursuing vulnerable targets.

Freeman: Guerrilla Warfare
Highlights:

Strong Points: Tense strategy that puts you directly into the fray
Weak Points: Bland gunplay mechanics, unrealistic armor
Moral Warnings: Large-scale violence, war profiteering, and some language

The real innovation, however, comes in battle, Though the randomly generated landscapes might remind you of Mount and Blade, nearly every other aspect of the real-time skirmishes is appropriately revolutionary for a game that places you in the role of a rebel.

Reflective of modern warfare, the opposing factions will not charge dumbly towards each other. The battle is often won or lost before the first shot is fired, based on positioning and the element of surprise, The combatants may not engage each other for a few minutes, and these moments are every bit as tense as the ensuing firefights, as every hill you crest could leave you in the enemy sights.

The gunplay is competent, lying somewhere between the bland realism of games like ARMA 3 and the simple point and shoot of Call of Duty. It doesn’t get in the way, but it won’t often satisfy either. Most of my engagements were from a distance, with both sides taking potshots from behind cover. Leaning out from behind a tree to fire at a brown dot on the horizon just isn’t mechanically interesting, but it does put you in the thick of combat, a perspective which changes your strategic calculations.

You have complete control over your forces, with the option to switch at any time from first-person to a real-time strategy view and give commands to each of the squads you’ve deployed. As a result, I feel more responsible for my soldiers than I ever did in Mount and Blade. They die because I sent them into an ambush, not because the AI did.

For a game that emphasizes being out-manned and out-gunned, Freeman can sometimes fail to deliver on the underdog fantasy. Despite your strategy, better-equipped enemies become like juggernauts, who take everything you throw at them and then saw through your ranks with ease. In our world, guerilla fighters frequently take on the best equipped armies with outdated weaponry and a fraction of the funding. And while an actual helmet might deflect a bullet or two, no armor can hold up to sustained fire.

A defeat in battle can leave you back at square one, in terms of economics and manpower, so it can be quite frustrating when you end up in an unfair fight.

Freeman: Guerrilla Warfare
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 64%
Gameplay - 16/20
Graphics - 4/10
Sound - 4/10
Stability - 4/5
Controls - 4/5

Morality Score - 70%
Violence - 4/10
Language - 6/10
Sexual Content - 6.5/10
Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 8.5/10

This is mitigated somewhat as you progress, as you can take over towns, collect taxes, and assign your followers to manage your territory or even lead armies of their own, under your authority. It becomes easier to bounce back from a devastating loss, which might’ve taken hours earlier in the game.

You’ve probably already caught on, but this game contains plenty of morally objectionable material. It is far from gory, but the violence is all too real, with the inhumanity of war on full display. I have recruited countless ordinary villagers to my cause, only to inevitably lose them in battle. My enemies are no different, just people sucked out of their normal lives by the currents of violence.

The goal of the game is ostensibly to reunify Cherniv and bring peace to its people, but in the meantime, you are presented with the option to benefit from the chaos. You can raid villages and rob supply convoys; the only limitation to your oppression of the people is your own strength.

Additionally, characters will swear in their dialogues, and you can dress your character or your soldiers in skimpy civilian clothes.

As it finally receives its full release, Freeman: Guerilla Warfare represents a definite success story for early access games. Developer KK games was able to get some additional cash flow while continuing to develop and polish a game that certainly must have been a labor of love for them.

Many Early Access games meander through their development, adding features to placate fans without ever mastering their own core experiences. This results in a game that never feels like a complete game, the software equivalent of a pampered man-child who struggles to stand on his own two feet. Freeman: Guerilla Warfare, however, had a clear focus from the beginning and applied just enough polish to make it truly shine. Forget that it was Early Access, this is a release you don’t want to miss.

-Dylan Sitterly

About the Author

Dylan Sitterly

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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