— A copy of the game was provided, courtesy of PopAgenda —
Many of us have seen the evolution of this game for quite some time. The amount of GIF representing a first-person view, with a baby bird on one hand, is pretty big, and the art style just melt our heart. (Well, it did that to me.) So, when I had the chance to play this game on PS VR, I was very curious and wanted to get lost in this world. Did I enjoy what I experience? For the most part, yes I did.
A tale of survival
The story takes place in a fictional apocalyptic world, where the world is overrun by an evil society having a robotic presence everywhere. You are Ara (the woman in the picture with the logo), living in some sort of prison, doing tasks for the corporation. There is a robot that must report to every day. One day, a family of birds created a nest at the border of your window. You look at it, and start taking care of them. It is a nice presence, but it doesn’t change your daily routine though.
One day, a catastrophe happens: the adult bird dies, because of an explosion. You decide to take the baby under your wing. At one point, during a malfunction of the robot that supervises you, the bird attacks it, allowing you to destroy it and be free. You are now able to escape your prison and start living outside.
A few moments later, you meet your aunt. When talking with her, you discover what is happening on the planet. She tells you that she is part of a rebel group that wants to get rid of the grip the corporation has on the planet. Seeing that you have a falcon with you, she tells you that she will help you learn the way of falconry at the same time.
I will stay spoiler-free, so I’m not going to say anything further. I have to say though that the voyage through this story was incredible, but the conclusion was lackluster. You even finish with a choice, but none actually gives any kind of closure. It might be because they are already planning a sequel, but I haven’t seen any confirmation of this. In the meantime, being a gamer that gets attached to storytelling, I was disappointed. I know a lot of people prefer the voyage to the destination. In this case, you won’t feel as I do.
There’s electricity in the air!
To be able to defend yourself, you can actually send the bird to attack the robotic sentries. Your aunt also gives you a stick with an electric rod at the extremity. When it is whipped in a particular direction though, an electric current start flying, creating a real line of electricity (thus the whip). It can also be used doing some tasks like collecting items, opening chests, etc. It is very intuitive and easy to use… in this context.
The only thing that I was unable to actually do properly in the game (with the whip) is a side mini-game available in a village you encounter. An NPC tells you that there is a game of golf that can be played. A ball can be moved around with the force of the weapon, and the goal is to make it reach a target. After 45 minutes, I was unable to do even just one hole. Of course, doing it is mandatory to obtain the Platinum trophy. So, I abandoned the idea of getting it.
Moving around is so easy
In terms of control scheme, many options are available. The one I used made my trip in this world fun and easy, without being dizzy or feeling bad. You take the right PS Move controller, and you aim in the direction you want to go. You’ll see a blue spot on the floor. Then, you rotate left or right your arm, which will make an arrow turn around the blue circle. This will indicate the direction you want to be facing once you reach the spot. Then, you press on the big PS move button. You teleport on the spot, facing the direction you selected. It is very intuitive, easy to use, and made exploration comfortable.
Bird care is a must
Going on adventures and fighting a rebellion is dangerous. You need to take care of your bird when it gets hurt. To do so, you need special items that you will craft with resources you can collect in the world (with your bird or your whip). You will also need to hunt down animals, to collect meat. Combinations of those items will allow you to go in special cooking stations (seen in the image above) and cook meals for your feathered friend. You will collect recipe cards as a collectible in the world, which will show you some of your possibilities. You can also just experiment if you prefer: trying a combination can be done without losing any items.
In terms of the protagonist, there is no health gauge or anything of the sort. You will just die if you get captured in traps (seen in refineries in the world), explode on a land mine or fall in a ravine (which can happen, but not that often). You will respawn on the latest checkpoint you encountered. What are they represented as? A water fountain, which you need to activate by moving its handle. (It will result with a “Saving” message, and you will often see your bird come near and drink in it.)
Serenity in the scenery
This small indie studio of not even a dozen employees created a very beautiful world. Importance given to nature is something you can see on every shot from the game. The landscapes are far and detailed. The variety between mountains, grass and deserts is spread out. They created a realistic fantastic world, in which it is easy to get lost into.
In terms of beautiful animations, kudos to the modelling process of the bird. It looks so lifelike and realistic when it is just there, on your arm, looking at you. In VR, when you pet it, the reaction is not something I was ever tired of. To exploit the cuteness of this all, once your bird is adult, you have a special item that you can give it to bring it back to its baby size. It is a very nice touch, the developers really knew that the baby bird is something attractive.
Decent amount of content for a first game
With the number of different locales in this world and mini-games and activities to participate in, there is a decent amount of content in this game. The credits can be reached in 5-6 hours, but if you want to go for the Platinum trophy and participate in every activity, it can take much more.
There is a factor that can influence highly the time it will take to finish the game: realizing that there is a world map available. To accommodate the story, you need to do a lot of back and forth between many locations. I took a lot of time searching for some of them, because I didn’t find out there is a world map until I was very late in the story. (It is available with the T button of the left controller.) Because of that, some of the missions took me much more time than I expected. My playthrough took me in the 10-15 hours. So, you can play the game in any way that you like, but expect to have a different experience, depending on your style of gameplay.
The game is also playable without VR, but the feeling is very different, because the control scheme and first-person view the studio implemented. It is a very nice touch that they decided to go the extra mile to do it though.
A good PSVR adventure
Outloop Games really hit hard with this title. It is a vivid beautiful world, which is depicted awesomely in virtual reality. Despite the little shortcoming I had with the story and some gameplay mechanics, the entire package is a lot of fun. Of course, the bird is really the star, and I’m sure you’ll get attached to it as much as I did. An experience worth living.