What makes indies special is the ability to explore less than popular ideas. They don’t need to look so real you can’t believe your eyes, have a story that matches movies or even explore unbelievable worlds. Instead, they simply need to be fun. The King’s Bird realizes this and tries to make a simple, yet expansive platformer. Between the bright visuals and interesting ideas, will it be enough to raise The King’s Bird up or does it lack the proper momentum?
There isn’t much that is explained in The King’s Bird. After essentially being trapped in a small town, you gain your freedom, the ability to fly and are able to explore the world around you. A lot of backstory is told through background images, with the rest appearing as you follow another person with the ability to fly, yet it never really takes off itself.
Instead of exploring the lore or expanding on the core ideas presented, it quickly leads to a stream of levels. The main idea is to figure out how to make it from point A to B. Sometimes it’s as simple as running, jumping and gliding, where as other times it requires a series of precise glides and pinpoint precision. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take long for the title to go from fun to frustrating.
It isn’t hard to see how The King’s Bird was developed. Levels were designed, tested and then traps were implemented to punish some of the most common mistakes. This makes it a little more challenging, just not in the right way.
Often times failures stem from very minor mistakes or under/overestimating how your character will move at that velocity. This is even worse if you decide to chase after every collectible, as they’re often placed in locations that require even more skill to obtain.
Even if it could be a little more forgiving, it does allow for players to learn from their mistakes. Often times I would fail a couple times, get a good grasp on what I needed to do and either accomplish it or make some kind of progress. Regardless of the time invested, I found there was a certain joy when accomplishing something hard, largely because nothing is so difficult it seems impossible.
In fact, since every level of timed, those looking to test their skills can see how quickly they can overcome a level. Considering The King’s Bird is all about momentum and proper timing, it’s easy to see a lot of replay in mastering every level.
If there is one downside to The King’s Bird, later levels simply expand on previous ideas. You’ll ultimately end up doing the same thing, just with more obstacles, giving the overall experience less variety.
Outside of the actual gameplay experience, you’re given a bright and vibrant world to explore. The simple look makes it easy to appreciate everything that is going on, even there isn’t a whole lot to see. It also makes the core themes stand out just a little more, giving The King’s Bird a little more charm than you’d think.
There isn’t really much to say about The King’s Bird. It’s a simple looking game that comes down to using the world around you to propel yourself forward. At times this can be fun and other times extremely frustrating. When push comes to shove, it’s good enough that I can see the value in it and has more than enough to keep someone interested, especially if they want to improve on previous runs.
[Editor’s Note: The King’s Bird was reviewed on PS4 platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]