This is Freedom Planet.
I should mention ahead of time, this review is first impressions based. I am not a big time reviewer capable of asking for review copies before their release date so I can play them to completion. In order to get this review out in a timely manner, I must base my initial assessment on the first 30 minutes of gameplay. I may in the future return to do a complete review of the property, but if the rest of the game is like the first two parts, I have a fairly good idea of how it is.
The controls are quite tight; that is to say, they are well responsive with very little input lag.
Initially I had some trouble configuring the controls, as I was trying to get my controller to work (The game has controller support by the way, for you Sonic fans who cannot play any game remotely similar without a controller!) but the game wasn't accepting inputs from it, only my keyboard. I got it to work, but basically I had to program it through my keyboard instead of my controller directly. This could be just a bug, and may be patched out later on, so this does not factor in at all with my feelings on the game.
For Sonic fans, I can break down the game in a very simple manner: It has the art style of the early sonic games, with the gameplay of Sonic Advance.
For non-sonic fans, here is a complete breakdown:
You move fast. very, very fast. However, while part of the objective to complete the level as fast as possible, you will actually want to explore the levels; a lot. There are collectibles hidden in each level, requiring some neat tricks in-order to get to them. This is quite counter productive to the whole "beat the level fast" thing, and the very fast movement speed lends itself more to that objective than to exploration, but I suppose the collection sidequest is more just added longevity, and unlocking of various goodies should all the collectibles in a level be found. I don't know the full answer (first impressions) but it's a decent guess.
You also have three methods of attack. One: You have a double jump, and at least with Lilac, it is a move that adds height to the jump, and damages enemies. Two: a basic attack move, which seems to, under certain circumstances, home in on enemies. Three: A special ability. For Lilac, it is a wall bouncing ability, capable of either speeding her up, or allowing her to ascend to places normally unreachable.
Of note, there is no tutorial for the game, at all. Not even a pop-up saying "these are your moves!" Old school gamers won't find this to be a problem, but even then not stating things outright in this fashion cna lead to some confusion. I got stuck on one part of a level because I didn't actually understand how Lilac's special worked, or that I was supposed to use it to advance. I did eventually figure it out, (and also found a card at the top of where I was supposed to go) but lost like 3 minutes of time on it. Though an argument could be made that the spot I was stuck in was designed to teach that; that I could get up there with my ability (and that there were cards hidden everywhere). And while that works, I just have the unfortunate feeling that some may get stuck there as well, and think the level was just poorly designed and give up. Giving a direct explanation of the ability might alleviate that. But, this game has only three buttons; it isn't really all that hard to figure out.
The notable deviation from the Sonic series the game is an homage to, there is a health bar, similar to that of the Zelda series. Basically it is a bunch of leaves that represent how many times you can be hit before you die. There is also a mana bar, which is used by double jumping or using the special. The special can only be used at a full bar, meaning it can't be used after a double jump, but can be used after a single jump.
Next, the story... I can't tell exactly what is going down, as there is a lot of backstory we haven't been told yet, but from what was shown: an evil lizard decapitates a king (onscreen!), and instills the king's son as a puppet king. Now he has lackies going after these special gems that supply power. The main characters are heroes, possibly mercenaries or something... I'm not sure of the details, but so far the plot is decent, if a bit textbook. It may get more intricate as time goes on.
Now for the negatives...
The bosses are kinda difficult. They are fast, and are kinda hard to avoid at times. Certainly there is a strategy to beating them, and they become easier after it is found; but they are still quite long. It becomes a battle of attrition more than anything else.
But other than the bosses, there isn't much else negative to say. Well, I can point out that the game may be a bit too "furry" for its own good. The moment I heard Lilac was a dragon, I immediately thought: "Wow, is she also a kittyfox?" The game is already gonna turn people away because it looks like something out of a Sonic fanart gallery, calling her a dragon won't do the game many favors. I have no problem with her being a dragon or her design, just the fact she was called a dragon is what gave me pause. If they left her species ambiguous, I probably would not have even mentioned this. Then again, I am a furry, so I already notice trends like dragon original characters popping up everywhere; a normal person probably won't think anything of her being a dragon.
And those are my initial impressions. It is certainly a fun game, and I look forward to playing more, and probably going for 100% in it. I may update with a complete review of the game, but if not, here's my score for the game:
+ Excellent gameplay, decent apparent longevity, and good writing and intriguing story.
- Attrition bosses, possibly too "furry" for main stream audiences (does not factor into rating).
Rating may be lowered in the future if future levels turn out to be a pain. Otherwise the rating will likely stand.