Over the years we have seen one Platformer after another descend upon the masses. Some games have pushed the envelope enough to make them stand out against the ocean of mediocrity. Of course, you have your staples that are tried and true, but even they have had to adapt to the wheels of time. Look at Super Mario Bros. for the Nintendo vs Super Mario Oddysey for the Nintendo Switch! The basis of the Platformer will never change, do whatever you have to do to get from Point A to Point B, by any means necessary. Developers have to do what they can to stand out, and these days having unique physics is the name of the game and Serenity Forge surely deliver with The Kings Bird.
The Kings Bird is interesting in its presentation and story. You play as a character that is both nameless and faceless. All you can really gather is that it is a young girl that feels like a trapped bird in a cage which we can gather by the very little text at the beginning of the game. There is no spoken dialogue in the game either. Instead of voices, we hear instruments. For the adult male you meet at the very beginning of the game, its a deep brass type of noise, and for our young heroine, she sounds like a wind instrument, perhaps a flute?
The visuals of the game are also pretty simple. You are a silhouette, as well as any other person you see. The world around you is black if it is a surface you can interact with. The backdrop is where you get any kind of colour. It works though. I never felt distracted or bothered by the simple design. If anything it makes it pretty simple of what you can and cannot interact with.
The world of The Kings Bird is like most other platformers in which there is the main world hub in which you can go into the individual worlds that contain 4 levels each. At first, there is only one world available, but as you complete the levels, you get a diamond. The other worlds will unlock as you gain these diamonds. Each world will show you how many diamonds you need before you can play that world. If there is anyone world that is giving you too hard of a time, you can always flip on Assist Mode to help.
As I mentioned, physics are what make this game unique. After a very short intro and tutorial on how to traverse in the world, you are released to the main hub in which you use the abilities you learned to go to different worlds to do a set of 4 levels. I will admit that I felt that the tutorial was not the best I’ve ever seen. Sure you understand how to wall jump and run up the walls, but I didn’t feel like it adequately described how to utilize all these in a way to chain them to make it thru an environment laden with spikes. Thankfully, figuring all the different combinations comes to the player naturally. The REAL challenge is gauging how to fly.
That is what makes the game unique. You can “Fly” or rather, it is like using a paraglider. If you jump off a large cliff and nosedive down and pull up at the last second, you will go back up in the air pretty high. Mastering how to fly does not come easily I’m afraid. You will die, A LOT. Thankfully levels are relatively short, most can be completed in under 10 minutes, much faster once you master traversing the deadly environments.
Serenity Forge is not soulless individuals though. They have presented a game that is chockfull of very difficult levels that will make even the most mild-mannered individual want to turn their Nintendo Switch into a boomerang. They made sure the game was accessible to people of all ages and skill levels by adding Assist Mode. With such options as Invulnerability to everything and No Air Resistance, you can be sure to make it through a level with ease. If you are stuck at a truly difficult spot on a level, you can even “Skip” ahead to the next checkpoint. The ONLY penalty that you will have for using the Assist Mode is that you cannot upload your time to the online leaderboard. Turning on the Assist Mode can be turned on and off easily in the Pause menu.
The Kings Bird has a rough start, you will fumble around and certainly die a lot. The controls will eventually come to the player and it makes the gameplay a lot easier. The game throws you in the deep end rather quickly, but with some time and practice, you will be soaring in no time. It does get easier to play, but the game is certainly never easy. There is a very relaxing feeling when you whip past checkpoint at breakneck speeds and you know you are in control. All in all, I like the concept and I hope the developers continue the series.
*Code kindly provided by the publisher for review*