I generally enjoy first person platformers so long as they don’t try to go all masochistic with the difficulty curve. The Free Ones wasI generally enjoy first person platformers so long as they don’t try to go all masochistic with the difficulty curve. The Free Ones was pretty enjoyable overall. It didn’t go overboard with the difficulty while having a decent story to go with it. There were some warts on it but overall if you enjoyed games such as Valley and A Story About My Uncle then you will probably enjoy The Free Ones.
The gameplay is pretty straight forward. You use the grappling hook to traverse the landscape by timing your uses of it. You can only use it so many times before hitting the ground so choosing when to use it is key. There will be many options on the landscape to use the hook on but if you choose the wrong one you may be out of uses before you can get to the next patch of solid ground. Other challenges are when to jump when using the hook because in some cases you will get too much air and overshoot your landing and other times come up short. I found that once in a while the controls weren’t as responsive as I would have liked. There is a change to the crosshair when you are able to use the hook and there were times where I should have been able to use it but the game didn’t respond to the button press. It didn’t happen often but it wass annoying when it did.
The story itself was better than most platformers and was more fleshed out as well. You are a slave working in a mine who is finally freed and is given an opportunity with the grappling hook to get off the island and back to the mainland to your family farm. It wasn’t award worthy but it was nice to have something propelling the game forward from area to area rather than just going to the next level like many platformers. The issues I had were that the story felt rushed near the end. There were characters that were not well explained, a “boss battle” that consisted of pressing three buttons to win and just felt generally rushed for the last hour of the game. It may seem like I am trashing the story but i’m not trying to. It really was better than most platformers.
I played The Free Ones on Linux. It never crashed once on me. It did have optimization issues though. With the game maxed out at 1080P and motion blur turned off the game could drop as low as 15 FPS when outside and in daylight. I fiddled with the graphics options and with the game on medium at 1080P with motion blur, AA and sun shafts turned off I was able to get 65-100 FPS the majority of the time but I would still get the odd drop to the 40’s. I then decided to put everything on lowest settings at 1080P with motion blur, AA and sunshafts turned off and while my average FPS was then up to 80-144 FPS I would still get the odd drops to the 40’s. I don’t see why it was happening as there wasn’t a lot going on in the game and while the visuals were solid and good they weren’t mind blowing enough to produce such low FPS at times on my hardware. My CPU usage stayed around 7-13%. The game spread itself out over my 12 threads pretty well. Once in a bit 2 threads may get to 11-20% but usually they were all less than 10 and close to each other. My RAM usage topped out at 4.5GB although it was usually lower at 3-3.7GB. I beat The Free Ones in just over 5 hours. I have seen some people do it as quick as 2ish hours but that will depend on your skill and whether you want to get all of the achievments. For graphics options you get vegetation density, shadow quality, view distance, SSAO, motion blur and sunshafts. Not the most comprehensive options menu but better than some. The biggest difference makers I found was view distance and vegetation density. Alt-Tab didn’t work for me on the game which was annoying. The game uses automatic checkpoints for saving and most of the time this isn’t a big deal as sometimes the checkpoints are so quick and close that every minute or so the game saves. There are a few times where the spacing was annoying. Either way I would prefer a manual save system. The game supports framerates higher than 60 so those with high refresh monitors can allow them to stretch their legs.
I do recommend The Free Ones. If you enjoy platformers you will probably find parts of the game you enjoy. It may not be as hardcore as some would prefer but to each their own. The visuals were good and the story was decent. There were opimization issues but I wasn’t surprised as the game uses Unity which has been pretty spotty on Linux for me in the last year or so. The controls were also a little clunky at times. I paid $17.49 CAD for The Free Ones and I felt I got my moneys worth. It goes for $11.49 at the time of writing this and the game has a free demo available so by all means try it out if you enjoy the genre.
My score: 7/10
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