FreezeME is a new indie game which puts a twist on classic 3d platforming adventures – you can use your camera to freeze objects in place for a short period. Taking inspiration from games such as Super Mario 64, FreezeME features different worlds in which your main objective is to gather Golden Cubes in order to unlock the Fat the Cat boss fight and save your canine companion. As you’d expect, the game is fairly light-hearted and ultimately the storyline is secondary to the gameplay.
Fitting in with the genre, the main objective of each world is to collect Golden Cubes by completing various platforming challenges within each world. There are three large open worlds with ten Golden Cubes in each. Each world has a distinctive art style and music, and is large enough to have some fun in. There are a lot of varied side challenges which are set and judged by the locals, who for no particular reason happen to be pigs.
The worlds are large, however with over 10 challenges in each, when you count the Green Pigcoin challenges, the world can be a little bit cluttered and overwhelming at times. With so much going on, the platforming elements can often be jumbled up into one another, and while some of the mini-game areas are distinct and separate, this doesn’t happen often enough. That in turn sees the game end up as one big mashup of areas, something which sounds cool, but can be frustrating.
There are some fairly severe inconsistencies in the game’s controls. The camera seems to have a life of its own, and also jumping can be a bit hit and miss. Sometimes you will fly forwards, and other times you will barely leave the ground – it’s a bit irritating when you’ve spent the past five minutes climbing up towards a floating island only to plummet to your death because the output doesn’t match the input.
The freeze mechanic serves to make platforming a little easier, or helps to avoid damage from certain obstacles, as well as allowing the completion of certain Green Pigcoin challenges. However, aiming the camera’s pointer to be able to freeze things in place was quite difficult and clunky. There are options to change the Freeze snapping, but it makes little to no difference. It’s a brilliant idea, but woeful in its execution. Even in the duration of freeze there are inconsistencies; sometimes you can freeze things for a good five seconds or longer, meaning you can achieve what you want to, but other times your targets miraculously defrost in an instant.
Additionally, there are times where the solution to a puzzling section can be obscured by graphical glitches, which lead you to thinking that you’ve found the solution when you haven’t. For example, I was trying to navigate my way past a lightning wall. I found a way around, at a point which was clear and had no visible lightning, however when I tried to get past I was shocked and ended up dying. This then reset me to the start of the world, meaning that not only did I have to navigate my way through the entire puzzle section again, but I had to trek across the world once more. The bugs and inconsistencies in both the controls and the graphics are really quite frustrating.
Somewhat annoyingly, after you collect each Golden Cube, you are transported to Hubbington, the hub world which acts as a level select. With only three worlds to select from, there is really no need for this to be in the game, and largely serves to confuse and waste time.
Occasionally when you get transported back to the hub world, a door will creak open and give you the opportunity to complete a special challenge level for a handful of green Pigcoins. This is a nice addition, however the hub world could easily have been switched out for a basic level select screen instead. The challenge levels are great tributes to past games of the genre, but unfortunately as with the rest of the game the experience is often ruined by inconsistent controls and camera glitches.
Pigcoins can be traded in, 10 at a time, in exchange for one Golden Cube. In all, you can obtain eight of these through green Pigcoins, which are found in challenge levels and also the normal game worlds. Red Pigcoins are the more common currency found in-game in various areas, stored in machines such as Spinning Coin Containers, which will only release their goods if you run around them a few times.
One of the missions to obtain a Golden Cube is to gather 150 Red Pigcoins. This is a long and arduous task, made worse by the fact that the Red Pigcoin counter will reset itself each time you enter a world; each time you collect a Golden Cube, the counter will reset and you’ll have to start from scratch.
Roughly halfway through the game, you get access to a superpower called rage mode which makes the game a little bit trivial. Rage allows you to fly – although this power is limited to gliding, used well it makes a joke out of the tricky platforming sections of the game. What’s the point in struggling with the clunky controls and falling to your death for the umpteenth time when you can just glide your way to the golden cubes with ease.
Another inconsistency in FreezeME are the audio levels. You can be wandering along minding your own business when suddenly a nearby character or object will screech out deafeningly. Other than that, the music and sound effects for FreezeME are quite good and fit in nicely with the game’s genre and mood. It’s a light-hearted adventure and the music reflects that well.
Overall, despite what I’ve said, FreezeME is not a bad game. If it hadn’t been for the bugs and controls it would easily be a great gaming experience and a great game overall. The fact that the issues with FreezeME are so severe means that it’s often a frustrating experience as the errors that are made are not at the fault of the user, rather the fault lies at the door of the controls. If these problems were to be fixed with a patch, then FreezeME would be scoring a lot higher across the board.