Saturday, May 4

Review: Bird Game + [Nintendo Switch eShop]

While I’m a big fan of titles that dare to be different, whether in terms of their visual presentation or gameplay, that doesn’t mean those qualities excuse them from critique by any means. No matter how clever the idea or interesting the overall experience, solid and consistent gameplay are a crucial key to making it worthwhile for gamers. Falling short in those areas leaves people to discuss potential but there’s always then a twinge of disappointment at what could have been rather than what ended up coming through.

Starting with the positive Bird Game + has a really cool look that’s a sort of hybrid of drawn lines and 3D objects, and lets you play the part of a bird flying through a generally natural environment. You’ll need to be wary of limbs and plantlife, an occasional gust of wind, and eventually attacks of various kinds from a host of more hostile creatures. Eventually you’ll gain some other minor abilities like being able to grab something to pull it, but the focus is generally on flight and maneuvering around obstacles.

Unfortunately, the experience is marred by some annoying problems. As much as I appreciate the look of the game the lack of sufficient shading can make depth perception a real challenge and that results in needlessly hitting things because you can discern how close objects are amidst what can get to be a visually messy screen. Add to this the fact that this is really an on-rails experience and not free flight and you can additionally struggle to tell where they want to you go when things start to get in the way. You may try to go right but it turns out there’s an invisible barrier keeping you from moving any further in that direction so you’re going to get hit. To make matters worse I’m still not entirely sure what the Y button is specifically doing and that’s weird. It seems to help my bird turn a little more quickly but it hardly seems to help at times so its purpose is confusing.

Throw these elements together and the result is an interesting tech demo with some hints of decent gameplay but mostly just lackluster flying around and trying not to hit things. There are moments where things click and you can enjoy the feeling of flight, but too often you start almost cursing yourself and the game as you struggle to get your bird to fly in the direction you chose. With more time and care taken there’s the potential for an interesting game here but as launched it has too many issues to give a recommendation for.

Score: 5

  • An interesting visual style
  • Some moments where the sensation of flight gets a chance to shine

  • A lack of shading and proper depth perception in many places can make dodging through obstacles a chore
  • The on-rails nature of the experience can be annoying and is obviously a very limiting factor
  • There’s not much direction given and the controls are a bit loose and wonky overall