Game Reviews

The King’s Bird

The following review was written by Nex.

Escape into a world kept secret by a tyrant, and discover the truth about your freedom. Run, jump, and fly through forgotten lost kingdoms with a uniquely momentum-based flying mechanic.

Intro

The King’s Bird is a platformer developed by Serenity Forge and published by Graffiti Games in 2018. Game informer mentioned that it’s one of the most promising indie games of the year. I first heard about the game last year when it appeared in an HB monthly. Since I love platformers I immediately took a liking to this one. The game is visually pleasing, has a unique flying mechanic and collectibles. A perfect game for any fan of the genre.

Story

The story in King’s Bird is told entirely through images and short clips. There is practically no text (the only exception is the outro before the credits) and you are free to interpret the story in your way.  The way I understood it is very simple: You are a princess of a hidden city where people are confined within a barrier. Forbidden to explore the outside world, you will do anything to realize your dream of flying freely through the skies. You follow your father, the king, and steal the ability to go through the barrier.

Upon leaving the city, you are free to explore the world but soon realize what has happened to your ancestors and why the barrier was created in the first place. The final level of the game sees your father die at the hands of a tyrant and you alone must defeat him and lead your people into a new age.

The Good

The game’s main appeal is the gliding mechanic. In addition to standard platforming, you have the ability to glide for a few seconds. You will use this ability to gain momentum and fly upwards, cross great chasms, climb buildings, and a lot more… The momentum you build will allow you to reach new heights with each jump as you master the flight.

Music is extremely adequate. It will help you achieve full immersion into the world of King’s Bird. The sound is tied to your movement speed to further emphasize this idea. The original soundtrack is available for purchase directly on steam, and for 6.79€ it’s a steal.

Levels

Level design is top-notch. Once you leave the tutorial area, you will find yourself exploring different regions of the game. Each world is inspired by a different culture including Mayan, Roman, and Southern Asian. Furthermore, every area is then subdivided into smaller sections with 4 levels each. Not all sections are available from the start, but you gotta unlock them by completing a certain number of previous levels. This method will allow you to gain new skills in order and never feel like a level might be too hard.

There are 3 main types of levels. The standard one requires you to reach the end in any way you can. Barrier levels will force you into a mini barrier which will stop you from gliding. These levels remind me of classic platformers like Super meat boy where you only have your run and wall jump abilities. The third and final type is Maze, which will require you to collect a set of white jars before you can finish the level.

Birds

Throughout the game, you will find a lot of spirit birds. Every level has them, they are not mandatory for progress, but collecting them brings personal satisfaction. Collecting every single one of them will not only make you feel like a professional but also give you a special achievement.

Speaking of achievements, King’s Bird has 13 of them. In order to get all of them, you will have to complete the game twice, complete all levels, collect all spirit birds and finish the last and hardest level in under 10 minutes. This might seem difficult at first, but if I could do it, so can you!

The Bad

A perfect game doesn’t exist. This one is no different. Controls can be awkward at times, to say the least. I found myself completely speechless at certain moments because I didn’t understand what I did wrong. The same input would lead to 2 or 3 different outcomes.

The difficulty spikes are real. Naturally, the first world is difficult because you are new to the game and don’t know and/or understand the mechanics of the game. Then you finally understand what do you need to do and feel like a real bird, flying through levels. But then the game says NO. The final world is insanely hard and the first time you play it will test your patience. Yes, the same level that you will have to complete in under 10 minutes to get an achievement. Since I was curious, I looked up the top times of the section. The best times were in the range of 2 minutes and 30 seconds.

Worst of all is the performance issue. I don’t have a top-tier rig, but it’s not bad either. Even then, the game would start playing in slow motion, or lag randomly… This is unacceptable for an indie game. Even more so when the game is a precise platformer with tight controls. Changes in game speed would occasionally ruin my attempts. Luckily the checkpoints are pretty common.

The Finale

At the very end of the game, you will battle it out against your nemesis. As you do not have any attacks per se, you will be forced to dodge and evade until you are given the opportunity to strike back. This is a battle for supremacy of the skies and will test everything you have learned throughout your journey. You will have to be fearless and fly like never before to be successful.

The verdict

The King’s Bird is a wonderful indie platformer that will test your skill and patience. You will spend hours practicing certain jumps but that feeling when you finally succeed is unexplainable. Global leaderboards will allow you to compare yourself to other players. I recommend it to fans of the genre and speed runners but unless you are in that group, your money is best spent elsewhere.

Release date: 23 Aug, 2018

System requirements: Windows 7 or higher, 1.7GHz Dual Core CPU, 2 GB Ram, Intel HD Graphics, 6 GB available space.

2 Comments

  1. Could not get into this one at all, unfortunately. When you pick up momentum and start flying fast, the game feels great, but it’s really hard to replicate that consistently. It’s a shame, because visually the game is beautiful.

    1. Like any game, takes some getting used to. I also struggled a lot figuring out the best way to build momentum at first… Later levels feel very satisfying once you master the flight mechanic.

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