Liberated is a game that many people had been curious about for a while. With its unique “graphic novel in motion” hook, it promised something that we don’t often see it in games, and after its recent launch, people have been able to dive into the game and get a taste of what it offers. Reception is currently somewhat mixed- there are parts of the game that many enjoy, and that many don’t. To talk about the game, its development, what its post-launch support is going to look like, and more, we recently reached out to the people behind it. You can read our conversation with publisher Walkabout Games’ head of business development Piotr Gnyp below.
"Comics are super dynamic. You don’t linger long on a single panel. You move, and fast. We had to avoid long stretches of gameplay or story. It’s quite far from traditional video game design, where you watch a 5-minute cutscene and play for 30 minutes."
Congratulations on the launch of Liberated! How does it feel to finally have your game out there?
It’s like reaching the end of a challenging road. We’ve created not just the game, but also our own Playable Graphic Novel framework. There were no guidelines or tutorials on how to do it, nobody knew how to properly put it together or pace it. We’ve learned a lot, and even though we are happy with what we’ve achieved, we know we can improve and put our knowledge to use in future projects.
What were the biggest challenges you faced during the development of Liberated?
Let’s say it was the pacing. Comics are super dynamic. You don’t linger long on a single panel. You move, and fast. We had to avoid long stretches of gameplay or story. It’s quite far from traditional video game design, where you watch a 5-minute cutscene and play for 30 minutes. Also, technically, the game is more complex than it might seem. There are three separate cameras working simultaneously to show you the book, the page, and what’s in the panels. We had to come up with technical tricks applied to make you feel like you’re interacting with a ‘genuine’ graphic novel.
Liberated’s comic book look is one of its most standout aspects, and something that audiences have been responding to very positively. How did that come about as a concept, and were there any particular inspirations for that style?
It’s actually a long story. One of our producers had this idea for a playable comic book in mind that took shape when he was a teen. A couple of years ago he met Marek, our game director, who shared his idea for a dystopian story. This seemed like an opportunity to create the first Playable Graphic Novel. Some time has passed, and here we are today, with Liberated out on both Nintendo Switch and PC.
As for the style, there were numerous inspirations in the form of comic books and movies. From Frank Miller and Will Eisner to Alan Moore and Warren Ellis, to Strange Days or The Matrix.
"We’d love to bring it to every possible platform, but at this point, we cannot confirm this will happen. The same goes for next-gen platforms."
Since the game’s launch, is there any particular bit of feedback or criticism from the community that stands out to you and that you are considering addressing with future updates?
Everyone seemed to enjoy the punchiness of the combat, however the way we arranged our set-pieces could be improved, and we agree. We intend to engage our players more through more complex combat situations. We purposefully kept them simple in Liberated to maintain the comic book pacing I mentioned, but I think there’s enough room to make each encounter stand out and become its own challenge.
Given the way Liberated ends, and its nature as a comic-style adventure, is a potential sequel something you’ve given any thought to?
First, we need to provide the post-launch service and make sure Liberated is as good as it can be. Then, we want to implement the new PC features (free DLC chapters, voice-overs, etc.) to the Switch edition. After that, we’d love to do more with this world. We made sure it’s ready for expansion. It would be cool to see what happens next, or maybe what had to happen to turn our reality into this grim dystopia.
Do you have any plans to bring the game to PS4 and Xbox One?
We’d love to bring it to every possible platform, but at this point, we cannot confirm this will happen. The same goes for next-gen platforms.