With Superheroes dominating mainstream media, it’s no surprise gaming also see’s it’s fair share of spandex wearing crusaders, right in the palm of your hands, ready to take on the villains. These days, it’s all about that realistic gritty take on the comics you love, so seeing Sentinels of Freedom’s vintage comic style feels like a welcome change.
Sentinels of Freedom is based off the hit card game Sentinels of the Multiverse and Sentinel Comics: The Roleplaying Game, which sees you creating your very own hero to team up with popular characters like Bunker and Unity. This in itself is a very cool idea. A lot of superhero games rarely give you the chance to create something from scratch, so naturally, I spent a fair chunk of time creating my paragon of justice!
You start off by choosing your theme, each of which gives you a subset of abilities you can use. For my creation I chose Power Melee, Mobile Melee and Tank, which meant I was able to perform all kinds of bone-shattering hand-to-hand combat moves and also aggro enemies on the field to draw them away from my teammates. There were other options like being able to shoot guns and having laser blast powers, to name a few. Strangely, some of the other superhero staples like Super Speed were missing. I can only assume they were unselectable because one of your main team members also has this power.
All of this is modified further by other character details like background, personality and power source, which give pluses and minuses to various stats. Of course, it’s all about designing that hero look and there’s a fair bit on offer. I opted for a sleek black/purple number that was basically futuristic techno armour. I felt pretty heroic as I chose my name: Rainmaker.
Once past the initial training section, you’re introduced to the hub Plaza where you can customise your characters by changing equipped skills, training them so they learn new abilities and of course, choose your next mission.
Taking all of this into turn-based battles, you’re handed a set number of Action Points per round to move and fight with. It feels a lot like a tabletop miniatures game, and planning out your turns is key to not leave yourself exposed to getting thwaked from behind. Only one ability set can be activated at a time, so if I start a turn in my Power Melee stance, I can only perform actions from that move set. You can switch, but that also costs you AP.
Once you end a character’s turn, it does give the option for a free stance switch and choice of direction to face them. This is very handy for Bunker because one of his modes sees him turn into a gun turret – a little like Bastion from Overwatch – with a passive ability that puts him on overwatch to start blasting at anyone who walks into his field of vision. I found this ability to be particularly overpowered as he ended up clearing most of the enemy forces on his own!
Each attacking ability has a damage type. For instance, Tachyon’s Sonic Strike is a Thwok damage type. It’s a close range attack that gets a chance to be buffed if you have allies nearby. Being based off of a tabletop roleplay system, there’s a lot of background numbers that go into determining whether or not you will land a blow or miss, with odds that can be increased by strategically placing yourself in the right position and using the right abilities for the correct bad guys. A Focus mechanic encourages you to get stuck in, where a missed attack leads to your hero becoming more focused and adds +1 to their next hit roll.
Damage types in this game have very comic panel inspired names which come across as confusing more than being helpful. Thwok is strong against Deflect but weak against Block, while Zaakt is strong against Evade defences but weak against Deflect. There are five damage types in total but I can help thinking it would have been easier to give them names like Melee, Ranged etc. Something simpler to learn. The one saving grace is that if you go to use an attack, when you hover the cursor over the enemies head, it tells you if your Ping! will beat your opponent’s Soak.
Next to the standard abilities, you have Vigilance abilities which happens automatically when enemies perform certain actions. If a Vigilance ability is available, a circle will appear around your hero, showing the front, side and backs zones where potential dangers can come from. It’s why facing the right direction is so important. Your chance to hit increases when attacking an enemy from the side and even more so when attacking from the back.
Another thing that surprised me was the sheer number of bad guys the game actually throws at you. You are always outnumbered, though heroes are meant to take on scores of villains and feel pretty strong. Once again, Bunker was on hand to mow down the horde of robbers intent on causing chaos and he did this with ease. The main problem I found with this was that missions were long enough for me to lose interest. With only three heroes, you take your turn and then wait a minute or two for a dozen baddies to take theirs. To my horror, I cleared over 70 enemies in one mission which was insane. 70 goons to rob a bank? They could have robbed the whole city!
The fun is always in the strategy, but I found missions getting a little trite after a while and overall giving it a mind-numbing repetitive feeling. That’s not to say that every mission was the same, it just all blurred into one.
I like the comic book style of the game, which is derived from the card game, but the production values aren’t quite there, leaving the game feeling overly simplistic and dated. It would be great to have more detail to the character designs and environments as a whole. Playing on Switch, everything was really small and hard to read. It wasn’t much better on the TV with a lot of the writing being very small and tricky to read.