Freaky Awesome Review
Disclaimer: PC Aficionado was provided with a code for the purpose of this review. All thought and opinions expressed in the review are the writer’s own, and are not influenced by the developer and/or publisher in any way.
With its instant charm and style, fantastic soundtrack, and gorgeously grossout sprite-work, it can be hard to not instantly be enamored with this unique take on the budding genre. As soon as you start playing Freaky Awesome, you’re more than likely to immediately draw connections to other, similar games; namely, The Binding of Isaac. However, the more you play, the more you’ll find out that the changes made to the formula not only allow Freaky Awesome to stand out as its own achievement, but potentially solidify it as a must play for fans of those similar games.
The game begins with possibly the simplest, yet most relatable plot for a rogue-lite I’ve seen: your dog is missing, and you go looking for him. The game takes all of 54 seconds to explain this plot, before immediately throwing you into the gameplay, as your character comes to a disgusting old factory, full of strange, mutated monsters, and takes a relaxing dip in a pool of toxic waste. This green slime immediately mutates your character into one of several possible monsters, each with their own, completely unique gameplay.
This “mutation” mechanic is where Freaky Awesome shines, and where it becomes most unique, compared to other rogue-lites. As you play through the game, you slowly build up mutations, until you suddenly transform into something completely different. Though, the most interesting aspect of this gameplay theme doesn’t lie in the transformations themselves, but in the methods with which you transform, which just so happens to be… healing.
In Freaky Awesome, every single enemy killed will drop a pool of their green, mutant blood, which you can absorb to heal yourself. Although, the more blood you absorb, the more mutated you become, until you’re forcibly changed into something entirely different. This creates an amazing gameplay flow, as if you get a character you don’t like, all you have to do is heal, and you’ll turn into something more comfortable in no time. However, once you’ve found your favorite freak, the game immediately becomes indescribably more intense, as the most basic of enemies get your blood pumping, while you know that the simple act of healing brings you closer and closer to losing your favorite powers.
Naturally, this isn’t the only thing that helps Freaky Awesome to differentiate itself, as the game also boasts a decently complex skill tree, similar to those found in standard RPGs. Being a rogue-lite means that, while permanent death is a constant fear, you don’t necessarily lose everything upon death. As you defeat bosses and buy upgrades from stores, you are slowly allowed to progress through a skill tree of primarily passive, stat boosting abilities, which serve to make your character permanently more powerful. This means that, while skill is still the most important aspect, as you play through the game several times, repeated attempts become much more bearable, as the bosses you’ve already beaten slowly start to go down faster and more effortlessly.
Back to the general gameplay, while the game doesn’t have quite the emphasis on exploration, nor the amount of upgrades you’d expect for something of the genre, Freaky Awesome knows where it excels, and that is in its fun, varied, fast-paced boss fights, and the completely different strategies that each mutation allows. Some mutations are fast, and allow for hit-and-run playstyles, focusing on dodging attacks, while others have superior range, and take advantage of the terrain to keep their enemies at bay. More yet, have impressive area of effect abilities, and can easily wipe out several small enemies at once, even if they struggle somewhat against bosses. The goal of this game is to strategically time your healing, allowing you to turn into the right mutant at the right time, and take advantage of a massive repertoire of abilities, which certainly makes up for the lack of direct upgrades.
Of course, like any game, Freaky Awesome is far from perfect. Rooms very rarely feel unique, and your path is always extremely clear, with the only question being your mechanical skill, rather than creativity or problem solving skills. Obviously, this is largely due to the game’s nature as a randomly generated dungeon crawler, although many other games of this sub-genre still manage to have interesting and unique levels despite the supposed setback. In addition, the speed at which you acquire upgrades sometimes finds the perfect balance between rewarding and frustrating, though at other times, it knocks the scale right over, into infuriating, with how slow permanent progression seems to be. This might not be an issue for some, but without even giving you the illusion of progression, these more difficult runs with no reward can often feel like more of a let-down than a challenge. Though, these aren’t deal breakers by a long shot.
In essence, Freaky Awesome is a fantastic entry to a genre that’s always hungry for new innovation, as it plays very similarly to those before it, but brings plenty of new, exciting ideas, with issues that, while mildly annoying at worst, some players won’t even mind. This is certainly the game to pick up if you have a very specific itch that needs scratching.
- Fantastic music and visuals
- Challenging, skill-based gameplay
- Fun, engaging, and unique mechanics
- Progression can sometimes feel slower than it should
- Less interesting environments than similar games