Rainy Night Creations’ new endeavour, FreezeMe, is one that Is supposed to evoke strong nostalgic feelings for the much beloved 3D platformer. The game is clearly influenced by the likes of Mario 64 and Banjo Kazooie which was something that originally made me immensely excited to play the game. However, while it does do a few things right in terms of gameplay and presentation, I quickly came to realise that the game was lacking the polish I would expect from a game being released in 2016.
As with any 3D platformer, the level design is a key aspect and often is one of the key factors in distinguishing a good platformer from a great one. FreezeMe’s level design is unashamedly based on that of Mario 64’s. The game begins in a well sized hub world which acts very much like the castle does in Mario 64, providing you access to the 3 main worlds that the game has to offer. Each of the three worlds is set apart by their different art styles and complimentary choices of music. This makes each world feel unique enough to keep the game feeling fresh with each new land I explored. However, it would have been nice to have a few more worlds to explore to give the hub world more purpose in being in the game.
The main objective of each world is to collect 10 different golden cubes. These are collected by performing a variety of simple, not overly complicated, platforming challenges. Some cubes require the player to collect a certain amount of red pigcoins in order to get it. This could be annoying at times as the counter for the coins would be reset after entering a new world which made the task of collecting the coins more annoying than it ever should have been. To me this seems to be bad game design and is definitely something that should be improved upon.
While I enjoyed my time trying to get each cube, I felt that the game would have been served better if the challenges had got a bit more difficult as I progressed through each level. As well as having the main objectives too complete, there was also a small number of side quests to be completed in each level. These included doing such things as running through checkpoints and fetching items for the native pig looking creatures. These added a bit more personality and variety to a game that up until this point was almost an exact clone of Mario 64. In addition to the main objectives and side objectives, the game also has a number of challenge rooms that can be accessed via the hub world for a handful of green pigcoins. These challenges are where the game will pay homage to previous games in the genre which were amazing to see and play as a long-time fan of the 3D platformer.
One of the major gripes I had with this game was the inconsistent control system which often left me frustrated and not wanting to continue. To start with, the camera hardly ever seemed to be in the place I wanted it to be in which made landing jumps in a tricky situation more complicated than it needed to be. This is an issue that plagued 3D platformers back in the day and something that I hoped would be improved upon in a more modern adaptation of the genre.
While it may sound it by this point, the game isn’t actually a complete clone of Mario 64 as it introduces a freezing mechanic (hence the name of the game). This mechanic can be used to freeze moving platforms into place to allow you to more easily jump onto them. Another mechanic added later is the ability to glide through the levels. Yes, these mechanics add something new to the game, however, they make an already easy game, easier. The story of this 3D platformer isn’t anything to write home about. While there is some exposition at the beginning to set up the world and the character you play as, I quickly found that the stories main intention was just to simply act as an explanation as to why you are visiting the multiple 3D platforming locations. The lack of story and exposition wasn’t too much off a disappointment for me as I’ve come to learn not to expect it from similar games in the genre, I just thought it was worth pointing out to any of you who were expecting a well thought out storyline.
Freeze me is a game that isn’t ashamed to copy what made Mario 64 great in the first place. Interesting level design with a variety of collectibles to collect in each space, makes for a fun an interesting gameplay experience. Unfortunately, the some of what made plagued 3D platformers in the 90s is still around in the form of clunky controls and a badly positioned camera. If you want a game that takes you back to the hay day of the 3D platformer, then I would suggest giving this game a chance.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox One code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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