Freelancers review: "A delightfully silly and unusual fantasy adventure"

The Freelancers box on a wooden table beside the game board, tokens, and more as people play
(Image: © Plaid Hat Games)

GamesRadar+ Verdict

If you're looking for a relatively quick campaign full of fantasy shenanigans, quick decisions, and lots of laughter, there are few games that measure up to Freelancers from Plaid Hat Games. No job's out of the question when you're broke, and the party of freelancing folks you play with friends is certainly that. Sometimes, even the smallest tasks can add up to a legendary adventure, with each one full of branching paths and surprises.


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    Quite fast once you know how to play

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    Deeply goofy campaigns

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    Leans into playing roles

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    No two playthroughs alike

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    Co-op play


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    Absolutely requires an app, which could be a dealbreaker

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    Lots of tracking various tokens

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    Ultimately only one "winner"

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Freelancers from Plaid Hat Games is a tongue-in-cheek fantasy board game that tasks a party of adventurers with a variety of quests. Simple enough, right? There have been plenty of RPGs that get quite silly. But there are few and far between that get quite silly while also requiring an application to run through fully voiced scenarios with wild NPCs, have procedurally generated quests depending on which characters are on the adventure and which choices they've made, and include fast-paced decision-making in the moment that can seriously swing the outcome of a given encounter.

It's easily the most unusual tabletop game I've played this year, and I mean that in the most positive way possible.

Features & design

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Lasts1.5 - 3hrs per campaign
Play if you likeDead of Winter, Adventure Time, goofy D&D games, Choose Your Own Adventure books
  • Lots and lots of tokens
  • Requires an app, but it can be downloaded
  • Be sure not to take it too seriously

The basic premise of Freelancers is actually in the name: you play the part of a group of freelancers in a fantastical world long after the death of humanity. While normal folks didn't survive the general apocalypse, the gig economy certainly did, so it's up to you and yours to delve dungeons, explore the wilds, and generally get shit done. Out of the box, there are five different campaigns with a number of different permutations based on any number of variables from which titles you've gained to what cards you've drawn to what skills you've selected. There's a lot going on, and no two games of Freelancers that I've played have ever felt quite alike.

To be clear, I'm not usually one to like a game with a ton of fiddly tokens, but Freelancers might be the exception to the rule. While there are enough tiles and tickers and metrics to keep track of that a party of four will need to have one person doing multiple jobs just to play, it never actually crosses over into overwhelming like some of the best board games can. This is in part due to the fact that the app keeps things trucking along, by and large, and partly it's because once you've actually been through once or twice, it's fairly easy and smooth to speed through even the most complicated set of required shifts and changes to, for example, the influence tracker.

The Freelancers book, tokens, and dice on a wooden table

(Image credit: Plaid Hat Games)

By far the biggest question I had prior to playing Freelancers was how, exactly, the app factored into things. The back of the box is fairly explicit that it's required to play. There's no real way around it; you need to have the app. Helpfully, this can be downloaded from the Plaid Hat Games website with all the relevant files, so no constant internet connection is required, but it's still an extra step that's required whenever you want to play.

My fear was that adding the app to the mix, on top of all of the tokens and trackers, would make Freelancers even more complicated than it already looked. But in actuality, the app ended up easily being one of my favorite mechanics of the whole game. Imagine if an RPG were also an audiobook of a Choose Your Own Adventure-style novel that factored in whether, for example, you had decided to try to squeeze into the dangerous-looking cave as a goblin or elf.


A hand reaches down to place a token on the Freelancers board

(Image credit: Plaid Hat Games)
  • Branching paths on top of branching paths
  • The app keeps things moving along smoothly
  • Co-op, but there's also a single "winner" at the end
  • Extremely lighthearted

Actually playing Freelancers is both complicated and simple at the same time. How can it be both? Well, there's a lot of moving parts. There's a location book filled with various places to explore, seven distinct roles that need filling (Game Master, Bookkeeper, Cartographer, Medic, Scout, Lookout, and Influencer), species to pick, classes to choose, items to collect, and much more.

But the reality is that if you simply follow the instructions given by the app, especially if you tell it you want help setting up, you're going to largely be carefully walked through all of this. All of the fiddly bits noted above will be sorted, step by step, for you, and then it's just a matter of moving to a new location, playing out a three-part round, and following whatever instructions are given by the app.

The app ended up easily being one of my favorite mechanics of the whole game

Helpfully, the app is exceedingly simple to navigate. It constantly prompts players (and specifically the Game Master, who controls the app) to enter in a specific code in order to move forward to whatever is next. Specific actions taken on locations can have a code, moving from spot to spot on maps have codes, and so on. If you plug it into the app, press play, and then follow instructions based on, for example, whether a player has a certain title, it's hard to really mess it up.

Should you buy Freelancers?

A hand draws along a map line

(Image credit: Plaid Hat Games)

If you're looking to have a good time with friends doing some wild and wacky adventuring without the need to build full tabletop characters and spend hours and hours and hours getting to the end, Freelancers is certainly able to scratch that itch. It'll likely appeal to folks that enjoy really leaning into chaotic actions in RPGs as well as those that prefer more mechanically clever games.

There's nothing quite like a room full of freelancers hearing the narrator explain in great detail how and why you've earned the title "Friend to Frogs," and it's even better when that comes back to haunt you two or more locations later.

Buy it if...

✅ You enjoy silly tabletop campaigns
We've all been part of a D&D game or similar where everyone tried to constantly joke around to varying degrees of success. Freelancers simply makes that the text rather than subtext.

✅ You are a fan of Choose Your Own Adventure books
If "Turn to page 53 if you…" immediately conjures nostalgic memories, Freelancers will be a good fit.

Don't buy it if...

❌ You don't want to use an app
As the game absolutely requires the use of electronics of some kind, and there's no getting around it, anyone turned off by that should avoid Freelancers.

❌ You prefer a more serious game
Freelancers is serious in the sense that it requires a lot of attention, but the actual subject matter is silly very frequently and outrageously funny from time to time, even requiring players to engage with such goofiness directly. If that isn't your cup of tea, you're in for a bad time.

More info

Available platformsTabletop Gaming
Rollin Bishop
US Managing Editor

Rollin is the US Managing Editor at GamesRadar+. With over 16 years of online journalism experience, Rollin has helped provide coverage of gaming and entertainment for brands like IGN, Inverse,, and more. While he has approximate knowledge of many things, his work often has a focus on RPGs and animation in addition to franchises like Pokemon and Dragon Age. In his spare time, Rollin likes to import Valkyria Chronicles merch and watch anime.