Tuesday, February 19

Review: The King's Bird [Nintendo Switch eShop]


There may be few phrases more despised in many pockets of the gaming community than “git gud” but we’re firmly within a generation of titles whose purpose is to push you in that direction. Kicking and screaming these are titles that demand precision and hard work to complete. However, a late and welcome addition to that mix has been the inclusion of things like Assist Modes that allow you to tone things down. This is firmly how The King’s Bird rolls, and while you may want to throw your controller across the room while trying to master its challenging gauntlet of levels you do always have the option to lighten the load and put it in a space where it is more suited to your level of commitment… which is something I really appreciate.


You play the game as a very nimble young woman capable of some pretty impressive wall-jumping acrobatics but also with a limited ability to glide and fly. Unlike titles where you slowly build your arsenal of moves over the course of the game here you’ll start with it all, just the demands put on you to show your mastery of each of these skills is drawn out over the course of your adventure. In some areas it actually feels a bit like the game has some puzzle elements, as you’ll need to use a variety of skills very carefully and precisely to make your way through.


Through a variety of lands your ability to show mastery of your wall jump and scramble, precision glide, and handful of other associated abilities will absolutely be put to the test, though not necessarily always in the most sensible order. It’s a bit odd when you alternate checkpoints blowing through with relative ease on one but then getting jammed for quite a while on the next but I suppose it’s just the nature of the beast and the fact that different people are likely to struggle in different areas.


It wasn’t until I relented and began to make use of some of the assist mode benefits that I really began to better understand some of the mechanics. With such a small margin for error in the execution in many spots, and a need to move from one technique to another in a rapid-fire fashion, it can be hard to get a real feel for the timing initially, but with an option to slow things down a bit I actually was able to get some things to the point where I later returned to full speed with better technique. One major warning as well is that given the scale of everything I wouldn’t recommend playing this in handheld mode. I suppose it’s possible but it would be easy to lose track of what you’re doing visually and that would just increase the timing issues potentially and the difficulty even further.


While The King’s Bird absolutely won’t be for everyone the feeling you get when you pull off a series of tough moves and then build momentum to glide up to a ledge as intended is pretty exhilarating. If you’re looking for something deep and challenging to sink your teeth into this will definitely fit the bill and plays very differently than anything else out there. The Assist Mode options are just icing on the cake and provide multiple paths to making the game more approachable, even if you’re just like me and use it as an opportunity to tone things down to the point where you feel more confident in your skills without it. If you’re willing to put in the time it’s a quality experience.


Score: 7.5

Pros:
  • Plenty of techniques to apply and master
  • Nothing on the eShop plays quite like it
  • The Assist Mode is invaluable to help tune the game to better match where your skills may lie, or get an opportunity to understand the game mechanics better

Cons:
  • The difficulty as you progress is a bit all over the place
  • Some checkpoints feel comically close together and others feel a bit far apart
  • Due to the scale not recommended if you primarily play in handheld mode