Bryan Tabor’s Bird Game + is an interesting one – on the outside, it looks like a calming and relaxed flight through a simple looking garden. But after playing for more than two minutes, it a difficult battle against nature itself as you look for the path of least resistance.
Funnily enough, in Bird Game+ you play a bird, whose goal in life is to fly south for the winter. In your path, however, lies a treacherous, yet oddly endearing garden where everything is out to get you. Along the way, you’ll face a boisterous pair of insects, the king of amphibians and an animal whose title is literally ‘Big Angry Snake’ as you guide yourself through the garden.
It’s a simple and harmless idea, that is backed up incredibly well by the game’s use of simplistic art. The entire game is in black and white, and feels as though it’s being drawn to life as you explore more – Bird Game+ has an almost procedurally generated feel to it, despite having set levels pathed out for you. It’s done in a way that doesn’t make levels too difficult and unpredictable but helps each level to flow in its own way, a design choice which is crucial to the enjoyment of the game.
When basing games around birds or flight mechanics, perhaps the most important aspect of the game is how it feels to fly. In my Jupiter & Mars review, I criticised it for not quite getting the swimming mechanics, as this was a game that similarly relied on its mechanics being solid. Bird Game+ has made noticeable progress towards making the flying feel natural – you can weave, dip and dive as you’d expect from birds, but it’s let down by its limited movement space.
Instead of letting you roam as you’d like in full 3D, you’re confined to the limited movement space of 2D, only being able to move up, down, left and right – which is core to the challenge of the game but can often limit movement. Countless times while I was playing, I’d try to fit through a log or gap between plants, only to be jankily re-centred as the game adjusts to follow its pre-set path, which became frustrating and often brought me out of the game.
This isn’t meant to be a free-roaming game, however, and so is limited to a pre-set path is right for the game, but I feel it doesn’t work with the free-flowing flight mechanics that the game has given you.
The limiting controls are perhaps my only real qualm with the game. Bird Game+’s soundtrack compliments the game’s art style and ‘story’ and the core gameplay is easy to learn, but still challenging all the same. It is fairly enjoyable and isn’t a particularly long game so is best suited for shorter game sessions.
*Code kindly provided by the publisher for review*