Time: 8.5 Hours
Its hard to think that a game made with a worse engine than Hovertank 3D gives me a bigger smile than just about anything I've played in the past year. You turn in 90-degree angles, no sound, no use key, bulletsponge enemies, enemies are stupid sacks of crap, and the gun is the bare minimum of what a shooter needs. What could possibly be good?
I think I've gained an appreciation of one-weapon shooters now. The gun in this game has showed me that the weapon is only a tool, not necessarily something that needs to appeal on its own. Not that it changes the rating. 1/10
For the most part, the enemies really are interchangeable. You've got shooting enemies, and you've got melee enemies. You're not really supposed to kill the shooting ones because they hurt you whenever you attack. Bit backwards, but otherwise they're jokes if you don't get surrounded. However, I must admit they had an appeal beyond their varying health meters. It was neat seeing what weird new enemy would show up, and they all interesting in that regard. What was really different about this game was you needed to kill enemies in order to get health. I'm sure there are later games that focus solely on getting health via vampirism, I remember a Doom mod in particular, but this seems to be the first actual appearance of it. 3/10
None, everything was an enemy. 0/10
Freaks made use of some really inventive level design for the most part, and because of the way it was set up, most of the levels weren't obnoxious to get through. How do I get through this level with as much health as possible? Every game is like that, but here, because of each level's short length, it becomes that much more of an interesting thought. Now, the problem is that the 3rd episode felt more like a mediocre Wolfenstein-clone in a lot of places. But overall episode had more good levels than bad levels. 8/10
I thought I was going to hate the way this has no smooth turning, just sharp turns. That was fine, no more troublesome than any other DOS-era shooter. What was troublesome was the weird issue where walls are technically larger than they appear. I have to assume this is some kind of coding issue rather than an intentional design choice, because its just so odd-looking. I could have used some rebinding of keys, since the Shift+Ctrl+Alt cluster are always tied into system functions. Also, the pause key crashed the game. 3/10
There wasn't really any. 0/10
Freaks does what I think very few shooters or shooter mods have ever succeeded in doing, do an excellent Lovecraftian atmosphere. This just felt like a bizarre alien adventure, but every part of it was going to be good. 9/10
I liked all the graphics in of themselves, but they felt like they were made ugly because of the engine. I like the hand-drawn VGA pixel-look. The problem is that at long distances or from a side angle, like most of the game, they look off. 4/10
The player is effectively God killing the Devil, with a shotgun. I realize its still an excuse plot, but man, how many games do you know that have a story like that? 2/10
There were basically three tracks in the game, which considering the level design, made sense, don't want tracks getting cut off in weird ways. The first track was the best, and it played the longest, reappearing at the final boss. The second was okay, except for the ear-bleeding part of it. The third was just okay in general. No sound, unfortunately. 3/10
Because this game is good in a way I didn't exactly anticipate when making my score system, I'm going to give it 3 bonus points. That's 36 points. Putting it one point below Catacomb Armageddon and Bram Stoker's Dracula.
Am I wrong? Well, you'll never know that unless you play it yourself. Because there aren't any reviews beyond my own. Freaks is incredibly obscure, I've only seen it on a handful of sites, even including my otherwise large field of vision. This won't be the last game from Spanish developer Triptico AKA Lovecraft Dreams. Sometime in the future we'll take a look at Space Plumber, which is weird, and the remake of Freaks, which adds smooth turning. That might honestly ruin the game, since this feels like its only as good as it is through a combination of its out-of-date by 1993 tech choices. Making it a normal shooter would probably make it a mediocre Wolfenstein-clone, and I already know I'll have my fill of those by 2002.
The lead of Triptico, Angel Ortega, is kind of a renaissance man. He's done stories, he has his own one-man band, art beyond his video games, and basically had a hand in every bit of his video games. Its funny, looking at his blog, you don't see that going into any real popularity, the guy seems to have trouble getting his stories published, in addition to constant troubles with services that actually do publish his work. This guy's Spanish, so the audience is significantly less than in the English world. If this guy, who's pretty talented, in a smaller pond, can't get any kind of following, what hope does anyone else have? Food for thought for the artistically inclined among you.
*Which I suspect is a mistranslation of apprentice. The author is Spanish and that's what Learner translates into over there, with a few letters changed. As the years went on, it was probably kept because the author liked the sound of it more.