Farsky Interactive released The Free Ones onto Steam and while the game might seem quite generic upon first glance, it is far from it. In The Free Ones, players will take on the role of Theo, a slave that seeks freedom from a life of menial labour working in a secluded mine on an island away from civilization.
The Free Ones starts off with Theo being led astray by following a yellow bird down a cavernous path. Little does he know though that the path leads out of the slave mine and straight into a journey towards his freedom. Upon reaching the outside, you’ll soon encounter Lana, the leader of a slave refugee camp and this is where the real adventure begins.
Lana tasks Theo with an objective to raise train tracks to the mainland and using the grappling hook device she crafted for you, you will soon be able to reach places that would otherwise be insurmountable or inaccessible on foot. Theo’s adventure will lead players throughout caves, across vast chasms, past busy cargo train lines, through abandoned buildings and more as they try to complete the objective Lana has tasked them with.
Initially, players will only be able to grapple hook a target once and immediately reel themselves in. This ability gets buffed to allow up to 3 consecutive grapples and later on a gliding skill is added to make life easier (or even more complicated depending on the situation).
The Free Ones’ gameplay premise lies in the grapple hook mechanic and the puzzle platforming that revolves around this. Players will be able to grapple onto any wooden surface in the game and can reel themselves in or catapult themselves forward. Traversing the environment is a hit and miss affair with numerous sections in the game being able to kill you. This can happen when you fall to your death after missing a landing or not having made the next grapple in time. Surprisingly though, while dying repeatedly can lead to frustration, The Free Ones never got to that point since most of the game was relatively easy to navigate. With that said, patience and proper planning is a virtue.
The addition of collectible glowing red memoirs in levels adds a layer of complexity to the title and should you try to collect them all, you will spend a significantly longer time in the game. The collectible items are placed in fiendish spots and attempting to collect them will most certainly result in multiple deaths as you try to figure out the correct approach in each situation.
Graphically, The Free Ones features beautiful environments with a cartoon-esque aesthetic that keeps it on the artistic side of the graphical spectrum. The sky is breathtaking in most outdoor areas and the levels are well designed albeit a bit repetitive at times. Thankfully though, the game is just the right length and will keep you entertained for around 4 to 6 hours depending on how determined you are to try get the collectibles.
The soundtrack is nothing to write home about but is well suited to the title. The voice acting could be a bit less bland and Lana and Theo’s relationship could be explored a bit more as seen with other adventure games like Firewatch but given the scope of the game, I digress.
Overall, The Free Ones is a grappling hook based puzzle platformer with an emphasis on the platforming and grappling. Gathering momentum and slingshotting yourself across vast distances is something that remains fun throughout the game. Certain segments with collectible items may make you want to smash your keyboard out of frustration but since the player is not forced to get these, one can easily ignore them and enjoy the game at their own pace. If you’re looking for an entertaining adventure platformer title that will keep you glued to your PC for a good few hours, The Free Ones will surely satisfy your craving.