I had really high hopes for Of Bird and Cage when I saw the trailer, and it’s been a while since I played what is essentially an interactive story game. The last one I played was Detroit: Become Human and before that Until Dawn, both I rate very highly and near perfect. Of Bird and Cage is aiming to deliver a story based around music. The game is very short at 2 hours and meant for multiple playthroughs, and it’s a very dark story! The problem is, after my initial playthrough (of which I got what I would class as the bad ending) I have no interest in going back at all.
I’ll be frank, the only aspect of this game I enjoyed is the outstanding sound track – it really does nail the music! We have the heavy metal music and some softer tones, and these do help deliver the impact of what’s happening on screen… which is a good job because nothing else does. Your character has an abusive father, a drug dealer boyfriend and then you meet a character called Bres who ends up capturing you and torturing you in the process. Amongst all this, your character Gitta is a drug addict whom also develops Stockholm syndrome for Bres. The issue with it is how it attempts to tell this story in the gameplay sections. I expect the gaming elements to be light when it’s an interactive story game, so when Of Bird and Cage gives you interactions to do, they have to be spot on.
The problem is that the quick time events are poorly implemented and it varies from hold, tap, perhaps even do both at the same time. The game also encourages you to explore areas for secrets, however, Of Bird and Cage has a constant timer going down. In each section, there will be a line at the bottom which goes down and will vary in speed and it stops any incentive to explore as, if the bar reaches the end, the game forces you to move on. The reason it varies in speed is because the time reduces down based on the song, as each level has music playing from the start to the end. So the shorter the song, the shorter the time. That sounds good on paper (no pun intended), yet it’s annoying as it cuts any exploration out and makes you feel rushed into doing anything.
The controls are also janky at best. I was playing on a Xbox pad and I even tried keyboard and mouse, but it gave no improvement. There are sections where you will need to move stuff to another place or perhaps pick an object up to block a door, but they just don’t feel implemented well and are a complete faff to do. In one section, I had to move a cable to plug it into a device, which should be a simple pick up and move it, yet it wasn’t. I had to adjust the camera angle and attempt it 3 times as it just wouldn’t follow what I would class as a logical movement. In another part, I was running along a road and had to jump over an object, but it just didn’t work. The game kept bouncing me back like I was hitting an invisible wall. In the end, the timer ran down and the game moved me on anyway.
The game also has some combat elements, which are fist fights and occasionally a gun fight. I really don’t think they knew what to do here as both parts are terrible. There is no way I can say this part was enjoyable, it just existed. They have tried to deliver the emotional impact with the music and the music used is outstanding, however it cannot carry the game as a whole. The characters need to be fleshed out far more than they are which is difficult when they’re giving themselves only 2 hours. The game also needs more work on facial expressions for the characters as they don’t portray what’s happening well enough.
The graphics are nothing special – they’re not terrible, but they’re not brilliant either. Some areas look like they have had more work than others, so you can go to one part and it will appear as though more time has been taken on this than a previous section. I didn’t expect production levels to be near AAA standard as it’s a much smaller developer and much smaller budget. What I did expect from Of Bird and Cage was a well delivered story, but it didn’t deliver this as nothing is explored enough. They have restricted themselves by going for the musical element and short play time. The game feels like an experiment and it’s just not landed well. The music is brilliant and is the sole reason I kept playing, however I won’t be returning. I can’t recommend the game but I can suggest getting the soundtrack which, considering this is a game, says enough.
A PC review copy of Of Bird and Cage was provided by All In! Games’ PR team, and it’s available now from Steam for around £15.