Playable comic book Liberated has looked pretty slick ever since I got my eyes on it. The developers at Atomic Wolf have explained during a digital Comic-Con presentation how they’ve achieved the stylish balance between digital comic and game, along with some of their inspirations. The cyberpunk noir game launches this week on July 30th, so we won’t have to wait long to see how this story ends.
Atomic Wolf mention lots of other digital comics and games influenced by comics that served as inspiration—everything from 3D motion comic Protanopia to Max Payne to Comix Zone.
All of these though, they feel, are more of a digital comic or a game inspired by a comic book story than they envisioned Liberated. Instead, they want to “hit the right balance between story and interaction,” they say. “If you veer off too far in any one direction you just end up with a visual novel or a game with really cool cutscenes.”
In practice, Liberated seems to include a lot of quick time events. You know, press the shown button to perform whatever action the character is about to do—and do it fast or else you lose. I’m not against that, to be clear. I’ve QTE’d my way through Telltale Games stories and the recent Men Of Medan alike and enjoyed the journeys.
Liberated wants you to still feel like a person who’s reading a comic book. The pages have a bit of texture. They reflect light. You can hear them flip. As a person who was slow to adopt eReaders, I can understand missing the physical pages.
I’m not an avid comics reader. Mostly I just dabble in the companion stories for favorite games like Dragon Age. I often struggle to focus on the page like I would with a novel. What looks like one of the coolest bits of Liberated for me is how it forces my attention to stay on a panel instead of flitting all over the page and later feeling like I missed all the great art while chowing down the text. It looks like some panels change camera angle as the action progresses, an interesting direction choice I’ll have to play first-hand to be sold on, I imagine.
Alice Bee already speaks highly of playing Liberated, saying “it blurs the line between cutscene and playable segment in a really cool way, and I was a big fan of the conceit.” You can also peep vidbud Matthew playing some pages in this Liberated gameplay video.