Game Review #139: The King's Bird (Nintendo Switch)
Reviewer: Bradford “TheWaffinator” Ekstrom
Developer: Serenity Forge
Publisher: Graffiti Games
Category: Action, Adventure, Platformer
Release Date: 02.12.2019
Price (at time of review): $19.99
Buy The King’s Bird from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.
Then vs. Now
Growing up, I remember being just your average everyday gamer. I was always sold on games that had a really good story and would take my time playing to make sure that I enjoyed all that it offered—and I still do. I remember my buddies and I would maybe try to beat a game as fast as we could, but I really wouldn’t say “speed-running” or “speed-run” was a thing at the time, or at least not that we knew of. I would say that we would do it just to have friendly competition and see who was better. If I knew it would end up being such a big thing, I would have put the controller down less and played a lot more to sharpen my skills. Either way, there haven’t been any real games that I would say were made specifically for speed-runs until The King’s Bird.
All games that are used for a speed-run are usually games that were made to be casual players, like the Super Mario series, Doom games, and even Metroid or Zelda games. People are already making the Resident Evil 2 Remake into a speed-run competition. The King’s Bird is the first game I have ever played that I feel is made specifically for this style of gaming sport. If you want a game that will sharpen your precision timing skills, speed up your reaction times, and give you one heck of a challenge, this game is right up your alley. If you want a game that is easy and won’t push you at all, this game isn’t for you, and you might just want to stick to watching it on YouTube or Twitch.
Let’s talk about the story real quick. I say real quick because there is little to no dialogue in the game to explain the story. You start off in a dream, about “being able to fly (and the skies were your limit) and eventually the cage catches up and takes your freedom”. The dream quickly goes away, and then you are grounded to just being an average person.
As you play, however, if you pay attention to the background, there are scriptures on the wall that are telling a story as you progress. I’m still piecing them all together to fully understand the story, and I’m kind of glad I don’t know, because I might have slipped some spoilers (no one likes a spoiler). I am about to start the fourth kingdom, which is the Fallen Kingdom. Each kingdom has mini sections, and each mini section has 4 stages within.
There are two types of challenges that the 4 stages within can contain. One is a free-run-style game where you get all the skills you have, the second one is a free-run-style as well, BUT NO GLIDING! Strictly ground maneuvering with precision timing—this is not for people with short patience. I can’t tell you how many times I thought about RAGE-quitting, but no one likes a quitter. Each level keeps track of your completion time and your collection status, unless you are like me and need to use the Assist Mode.
Gliding with Grace
From being able to slide, to running up walls, to wall jumping between walls, and even gliding, the controls are very fluent. And that is a very important feature, because precision is key, and if the controls are not easy to grasp, then this game would not work at all. In the very beginning of the game there is a tutorial that helps teach you the controls, and the ideal way to use them. The only thing it cannot teach you is the timing of when to execute. You are only using the left thumbstick for movement, A for Jumping, L for gliding, R for dashing and wall climbing, and ZR for jumping off the walls in combination with A. Those are only some of the maneuvers. Do you have what it takes to master the precise commanding of our heroine?
A Picture Can Paint a Thousand Words
Like I was saying about the story, you must pay attention to all the writing on the walls. They don’t come out and tell the story with normal dialogue, but through pictures and music interpretation. Even when your main character comes across other characters, the talking isn’t talking, but musical notes for you to interpret. This whole game is one big musical. Even your movements are musical. I am not usually one for musicals, but there is something very soothing about the game that keeps you lured in. In fact, what kept me from rage-quitting the most—aside from the Assist Mode—was the elegant and peaceful music to the game, along with the stunning visuals that it offered for just being a 2-D-style game. Screenshots can’t even do this game justice.
Thanks for the Assist
I mentioned a couple times about the Assist Mode, but never really talked about what it was. Assist Mode is basically a cheat mode built right into the game, almost like training wheels on a bicycle when you first start learning to ride a bike. I would say Assist Mode is more for people like me who want to enjoy the game on a casual level and are not quite good at this style of game. It allows you to make your glide time last longer, skip to check points, avoid getting hurt from the rough surfaces, etc. This mode saved my behind so many times, and is the only reason I am as far as I am in the game.
Some Final Thoughts
I’m not even going to try and sit here and compare this game to another, because I feel like this game is on a whole new level by itself. I was saying this game is made for those who want to speed-run and set records, and I meant it. This game is going to push you and challenge your sanity all at the same time, while giving you something peaceful to look at and beautiful to listen to. If any other title could be used for this game and have a perfect fit, it would be Heaven and Hell. To be honest, I watched the trailer and never would have guessed that this game was so challenging.
I thought it looked like a walk in the park, and more laid back and kind of boring. I was dead wrong. This game is everything but that. I am, however, going to push myself to get better, and to the point where I do not need the Assist Mode. There’s one question I have for those reading this: are you going to be the one holding the speed-run record that I must conquer?
Buy The King’s Bird from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.
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*Review Code Provided by VIM Global