A tactical RPG in the Sentinels of the Multiverse setting, Sentinels of Freedom is an entertaining experience even if it doesn’t break any new ground with its gameplay.
Genre: Strategy, RPG
Developer: Underbite Games
Publisher: Underbite Games
Release date: 16 April, 2020
As someone who dives into plenty of tabletop games, I’m always interested when I see them being adapted to the digital world. Sentinels of the Multiverse is one of the favourites in my fairly large collection of games, so I was looking forward to this one in particular. Although it didn’t disappoint, it didn’t live up to the rather high expectations that I’d had for it in my own mind. It ends up being a nice game on the side if you’re a fan of the setting and want to see it in a new light, though it may not pull you in otherwise.
A New Cape in a Super-Powered World
Whereas you were restricted in the card game to playing only the as the heroes that were available, the move to video game territory brings with it a character creator. Although the designer would benefit from more pieces being available, it’s done its job well enough and you can make some decent looking characters by tailoring their appearance. You may not be able to pull one straight from your head and create them, but you’ll likely be satisfied with what you end up throwing together. On the gameplay end, you’ll be choosing three of a wide variety of power sets and combining them with backgrounds, training, and personalities that will determine your hero’s role and capabilities. The existing characters that you’ll be fighting alongside have a noticeable difference in their playstyles and are versatile enough that you can bring whoever you choose in at any time and they’ll work well enough. You can take advantage of this to make any kind of hero that you want and form the team around them instead of doing it the other way around.
I specialized Dusk Avenger, the hero that I created, as a ranged powerhouse. Along the lines of The Punisher, I went with a theme based around not having any “powers” other than being a badass with a bushel of firearms. I focused on the ‘shooter’ and ‘interceptor’ sets for this; the former offered serious damage potential at range, while the latter offered a retaliation capability that granted him a chance to fire at any enemies that moved through his range. Mechanically speaking, Dusk Avenger ended up working the way that I wanted him to and backed up the team with high ranged damage output. Aesthetically, I would’ve not only liked that variety that I mentioned earlier, but was also disappointed that the only non-super powered weapons available were handguns. An assault rifle would’ve been ideal.
Crime Doesn’t Pay
After a brief introduction to the setting and a few of the pre-existing heroes and villains, you’ll find yourself at your heroic headquarters. Here you’ll customize your characters by unlocking new abilities, determining which sets and skills they have equipped and deciding which mission you’ll be going on next. Missions themselves tend to feel similar after a while, but it’s clear that some effort went into trying to differentiate them to some extent. They’re by no means carbon copies, but it’s too close for comfort if you’re thinking about playing long-term.
Action points (AP) are the primary resource of combat. They’re used in movement, used up for abilities, and spent for interactions with the environment and objectives. Don’t be fooled though, different heroes and sets have different levels of efficiency. If you’re running across the map with Tachyon you might do so with only a handful of AP in a single turn. Try the same with Bunker and it’ll put her numbers to shame.
Every Power Has Its Limitations
Sentinels of Freedom’s overall presentation isn’t terrible though no one will be confusing it for anything other than an indie title. The art style is decent enough but often falls short of its full potential. This may be seen as a part of the Sentinels experience as the art was subpar in the card game, but it is more of a struggle to accept it when there are many other games in the digital world that look much better. The sound design isn’t of the best quality either, though the soundtrack tends to be catchy all the same.
Sentinels of Freedom is an entertaining new look at the Sentinels setting that carries with it the added benefit of being familiar to those who enjoy its source material. It’s fairly simple as far as tactical RPGs go, simpler than I would’ve personally preferred honestly, though I wouldn’t say that it was dull by any means. It would be easy to pick up for those more casual gamers among us. It didn’t pull me in as I’d hoped, but it’s a title that’s fun to dip into for a mission or two at a time. If you’re into Sentinels of the Multiverse and would like to see more of the setting and its characters, check it out and it might be a worthwhile diversion from some of the others in the genre that have more depth. If you’re looking for the next tactical RPG that’s going to be a timesink (or a powerful character editor), you may want to keep looking.