Game development is a big industry here in Canada. With major studios like EA, Bioware, Ubisoft and Capcom setting up shop all over the Great White North to make games with a global appeal. But there’s also a whole bunch of smaller indie developers bringing up the rear and providing Canadians, and people from all over the world, hours of fun with great games. Skylight Freerange from Manitoba based Dragoon Entertainment, is not one of these games.
What it is however is an open-world RPG that explores the aftermath of a Canadian Civil War (we’re way too polite for that) and the repercussions of bioengineering. Set in the year 2041 you are a special agent tasked with eliminating those responsible for breaking up our great Confederation.
Once you’ve selected your party you travel from point A to point B, searching for your next objective. The problem is the game’s controls are so atrociously bad you’ll likely get lost ten times on your way down the street. Things like, using the arrow keys to walk instead of the standard WASD but also using the mouse to control the camera and some other keys for options makes for a very uncomfortable play style. What’s even worse is that the game doesn’t feature any tutorials, so you’ll have to figure out the convoluted control scheme all on your own.
The actual combat is only marginally better in that, while it’s confusing as hell to figure out, your AI partners will take out the enemies for you so you don’t really have to do much. In fact you’ll start to love going into combat situations because, even though their repetitive, at least you know where you are and what you are doing.
What is an interesting concept however is that the game offers a surprising amount of freedom in how you approach the gameplay. From the character creation menu to the choices that dictate the story the game to the large amount of freedom given (you can start your own hockey team – the Canadian Dream). The game does give you a surprising amount of freedom for an indie title, the problem is none of the choices are particularly appealing. I mean sure you could basically build a virtual life for you character but the amount of work you’d have to do to make it even mildly interesting is enormous and would just lead to frustration.
The graphics in this game… I mean the mess of polygons slapped together are some of the worst I’ve seen. Seriously this game looks like an absolute disaster. The characters look lifeless and ridiculous with their massive hands and feet. But it doesn’t end there, oh no, the environments are practically devoid of details including textures, making everything look like boxes in an empty field. Though I suppose that might be what parts of Manitoba look like.
However you’ll get a bit of joy out of these visuals, because there literally so bad it’s funny. Things like your characters taking strides that are longer than their body length to walking your character through the endless black wastes of Portage la Prairie are my particular favorites. Oh and when the game switches to night, all you can see is your characters face and clothes, that’s a good one too.
But of course, this type of game is a pet project, a small indie developer’s attempt at getting noticed, surely we can overlook these flaws and get some gaming in on the cheap right? Wait it costs how much? $15.00!? Are you serious? For fifteen bucks you could not only download (or buy) some much much MUCH better games but you could also light that money on fire. Either way a better investment.
Am I being harsh on Skylight Freerange? Probably. But in this day and age releasing a game in this condition and charging such an exorbitant price for it is practically ripping off gamers. So at the end of the day I cannot in good conscience recommend Skylight Freerange. It may have some good ideas hidden within but those ideas are buried under layers and layers of awfulness that no one should have to pay to experience.
This review is based on Skylight Freerange for the PC. The game was provided to 3GEM by the publisher.