Turn based tactical video games and the superhero genre don’t go together as often as you would expect, so when Sentinels of Freedom came my way, I was immediately reminded of the last gem in this subgenre that I’d played: Irrational Games colourful Freedom Force. Like that game, Sentinels of Freedom – no relation to Irrationals forgotten gem – is a primary colour infused, story-focused tactical game that places you in the boots of a squad of heroes whose job it is to, you guessed it, save the city.
Developed by Underbite Games via Kickstarter, Sentinels of Freedom is based upon the meta card based boardgame, Sentinel Comics: The Roleplaying Game which is set in the Sentinel Comics universe. And this is where the meta comes in as the boardgame was inspired by the Comics line, which itself is just a fictional creation setup to house the universe, its characters and stories, which inspired the boardgame. You got that? Good. So let’s continue before I have an aneurysm contemplating this chicken/egg scenario. . .
During a brief introductory sequence that teaches you the basics of the game’s mechanics, you get to create your own hero to add to the Justice League-y group whose job it is to protect the citizens of Megalopolis from the nefarious deeds of its resident evil-doers. Featuring some great writing and a story that occasionally channels the feeling of Golden and Silver Age comics, your heroes are brightly-clad spandex do-gooders while the villains are always a-plotting. Cops need your help, citizens need to be saved and bad guys kapowed! Before a mission can be won.
The games character creation system is rather basic by today’s standards but contains enough options to create a stand-out character for yourself. Whether you like cargo pants or spandex, the option is there. You can customize your hair, clothes and voice, but what really matters are the light RPG mechanics concerning your powers, your starting combat styles and backstory. As with the main heroes, each character has three combat styles initially, with more attacks unlocked and swappable during the campaign, which range from basic melee combat and AOE’s to minions and gadgets and snipers, oh my. The origin of your powers, backstory and personality – all of which have three options you can choose – determines your characters starting stats and, nicely, light dialogue options during missions. The dialogue options don’t alter the flow of the story but are a nice addition to the overall lite-RPG feel the game has.
Visually Sentinels won’t be pushing anyone’s hardware, let alone the Switch’s. Whether due to its Kickstarter origins or simply art choice, Sentinels features basic, stylized polygon graphics, textures and VFX. You won’t be showing this off as a hardware pusher, but the style is charming enough in its own way and ends up suiting the comic theme rather nicely.
The real meat of the game, of course, is the gameplay and Sentinels presents a respectable turn-based campaign that isn’t as complicated as other games in the genre, but isn’t entirely a cakewalk either. Underbite have done a great job of creating a story that is more than just beat up map full of bad guys and move on. Missions can be one map affairs or, sometimes, take course over multiple maps and usually sport more than one main objective along with multiple sub-objectives along with bad guys to Thokk!
This is where the complexity starts to come in as the villains usually have an army of henchmen with them per map. It’s not unusual when looking at your end level stats to notice that your squad of three have just put seventy plus enemies behind bars. Contending with bosses, henchmen and the objectives requires some careful planning at times. A usual level flow will have you taking a look at a generator, before having to fix five smaller ones, while closing broken fences and stopping saboteurs from destroying those same generators – while the extra adds come in through the broken fences you may have decided to leave wide open.
I’ve had more than one mission reload or just scraping through by the skin of my tattered spandex thanks to the seemingly endless enemy spawns. There is a system behind which attacks and defenses are relevant to each other, though the game doesn’t make it entirely clear by naming them as Thokk!, Ping! and Foom!. Eventually, I just resorted to highlighting the enemy I wanted to attack with the attack – as their stats, defenses and the power chance of your attack is displayed – and going by the simple rule that red equaled poor while green plus crit was great. There’s a chart you can check when pausing the game but I gave up on adequately trying to decipher it. Keeping your squad together provides buff boosts during attacks, but more often than not, you’re going to have to spread them out to deal with everything going on. You’ll get to setup barricades to protect cops or alter bad guy paths, have to escort medics to injured civilians and save some of them yourself. Occasionally saving a civilian will gift you precious HP, but otherwise, heroes can’t be healed during a mission, multi-level or otherwise.
As you progress through the game, more heroes will be added to your roster and each presents a nice set of abilities of their own. Walking tank Bunker is great for grenade AOE’s while Tachyon zips around the field at super speed. No hero is useless but how you deploy them while paying attention to what’s going on around you, will determine your success or failure.
Ultimately, Sentinels of Freedom is a charming, and charmingly written turn-based tactics game that provides a decent enough challenge. It won’t vex veteran armchair generals or blow your mind with eye-popping visuals but it will entertain you while you’re taking a break from all those open-world games and sipping a cup of tea.
Sentinels of Freedom is available on the following Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows
This review is based on the Nintendo Switch version of the game.
Written by By M. A. Ligocki one of our awesome Freelance Team.
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Sentinels of Freedom
Prepare for a story-driven campaign within the Sentinel Comics universe as you join forces with an ever-growing team of heroes to face a wide variety of villains. What seems like a typical bank heist reveals itself to be just the beginning of a much more sinister plan! Create your hero, gather your team, and save the world in this exciting new turn-based strategy!
Product Currency: GBP
Product Price: 20.19
Product In Stock: SoldOut