PAX East 2012: Children of Liberty

Written by: Michael Spada

An American Revolution stealth platformer is actually a thing, and it looks to be a good thing.

Having grown up in the Boston area, its history is near and dear to my heart. Particularly Boston’s involvement in the American Revolution. While Assassin’s Creed III looks to take on the American Revolution on a massive scale, Boston area developer Lantana Games’ Children of Liberty seeks to be a much more personal story. Taking place in Boston during the Revolution, Children of Liberty tells the story of four children as they become spies for Samuel Adams in an effort to free their parents from jail and put a stop to a British Conspiracy.

Children of Liberty’s focus is on platforming and stealth, leading the four playable characters through various Revolution-era Boston locales. I was able to get behind the mouse and keyboard of a demo at PAX East in Boston and try my hand at the stealth platformer. The demo had me choose between three of the four playable characters; I went with Joseph, the middle-man with average abilities across the board. The controls are simple enough – running, jumping, climbing, attacking, and an action button are all you’ll really need to make your way through the environments. As I snuck through the 18th century warehouse, I climbed crates, hid in haystacks, took out guards both stealthily and head-on, and jumped across barrels floating on water.

Screenshot from Children of Liberty

The level design is simple but solid. I’m always good for a traditional platformer, and Children of Liberty gives me exactly what I want and in a unique setting. I took out a small selection of redcoats throughout the demonstration. Since the game is still in the earlier stages, the enemy AI was straightforward and easy to defeat. I was told, however, that they’re looking to add some complexity and challenge to the enemies to take them from slight hindrance to genuine challenge. But combat is only a minor factor; the platforming is definitely the focus of the game. The levels are littered with boards hanging on the wall to shimmy across, and crates strategically placed in just a way that requires clever navigation. The demo was rather short-lived, but it showed great promise as to what the final product will offer.

Screenshot from Children of LibertyWhat really stands out to me and makes the game worth looking into for this reason alone is the art style. The character models are 2D sprites, but they are in a 3D background. It can be compared visually to Paper Mario, or if you want to get obscure, Mortal Kombat Mythologies: Sub Zero. The sprites are hand-drawn and animated frame by frame, yet the backgrounds are fully rendered in 3D with beautiful lighting and water effects. The sprites are lit in real time, with a spotlight in front of them in darker areas, almost making it feel like a stage show. It’s a unique art style that compliments the rarely-done setting and tight platforming well.

As I said, the demo didn’t last too long, but I knew exactly what to expect out of the final product from my time with the game. Children of Liberty’s Alpha demo is available for $9.99, with all the money going directly to funding the final product. While it may not be ready to launch, it’s well on its way to being a fun and unique indie title later this year.

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Author: Michael Spada

Michael Spada is a gentleman who plays videogames and then writes about them on the internet. Solid Snake is his hero, but he'd just as quickly settle down with CM Punk. You can follow him on Twitter if you'd like.

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