I got to play Liberte at GDC this year and liked it enough to try to review it for my site. I was lucky enough to have been given a review code for this game, but this will be my honest review.
Liberte is an ARPG with a unique deck-building mechanic. Instead of finding gear and customizing a skill tree, you play with a deck of cards that give your character weapons, items, and talents.
A revolution has broken out in France, and Rene finds himself in the middle. You must navigate between the four factions, choosing sides and fighting the good fight. But there is something strange behind the revolution. A mysterious plant has sprung up, turning people into monsters. Will you be able to solve the mystery, or will this be the fall of humanity?
I liked the story, but I will keep it vague to not ruin the surprise. You can figure everything out early, but I want to avoid spoilers. I love the flavor of the lore and how the game gives you choices. You choose the factions you help out during your missions, but this only affects the flavor of enemies you fight against and the rewards you unlock. I suggest you pick whatever you think is coolest since it doesn’t affect the story.
There are four factions in Liberte: the rebels, the crown, the church, and the Tribe. Each faction has a hero you can play with and unique cards you can unlock. My issue with this mechanic is that it takes a long time to unlock all the heroes. While it may be good to allow players to live with characters for a bit, I would prefer that I could choose the class from the start. There are a total of 5 classes to choose from, but I imagined Anna because she fits my playstyle the best. The character you choose only affects gameplay. You will always be Rene for the cutscenes.
Combat is what I liked most about this game. The RNG made it so I was constantly having to change my playstyle to adapt to whatever cards I pulled. This gave the game its wavering difficulty. I had the most fun on the harder playthroughs where I wasn’t pulling the cards I needed because of how safe I had to play it. The dodge and parry mechanic felt fantastic, and the kiting was very satisfying. Liberte controller support, but I preferred the accuracy I got with the keyboard and mouse.
There is an undeniable clunkiness to this game. Some hitboxes are too small, and my abilities wouldn’t go off. It isn’t so bad that the game is unplayable, but it is hard to ignore. If you run multiple monitors, you can click out of the game. This will minimize the screen without pausing it. Most of the time I was able to get back in time without dying, but not always. Dying means you have to start leveling your character all over, but you don’t lose your progress in the story. Make sure you make an offering at the altar before starting a new run for a nice little boost.
The grind for this game is the barrier to entry. To unlock new cards, you need to find blueprints, complete faction reward tracks, and farm for materials. When you get blueprints for the cards you need, you will find that you don’t have enough materials. You can increase the difficulty of each run to have better drop rates, but it will take you longer to get through the story. This wouldn’t be a problem if you weren’t constantly running through the same missions on the same maps. I found comfort in the reputation and felt the RNG did enough to keep the playthroughs fresh, but different maps and quests would have been better. The game does have a story difficulty that makes things a lot quicker. You get access to a full deck, and it is harder to die. I still found I needed to try during combat, but there isn’t as much risk involved. I suggest you try this mode if you don’t have enough time for the grind, but still want to enjoy the story.
The game is still in early access, and I find it unfair to complain about the bugs and performance. There are bugs, but the game is playable. The devs are working hard to make the game better. The launch date has been moved to May, but no specific date has been announced. It does need some polish, but the story and experience are solid. If you don’t mind the early access nature and the grind, I recommend you go pick up your copy. The aesthetic is fantastic, the flavor for the story and lore is nice and dark, and the gameplay is a lot of fun. You can grab your copy on Steam, or Wishlist it so you are ready for the full release. The game is $19.99, but on sale for $14.99 at the time of writing this.
Images from presskit, gameplay was taken from the game.