Of Bird and Cage is a project that attracts attention thanks to the very idea. Because theoretically, we do not get a normal game here, but an interactive form of a music album, to which artists who used to play in well-known metal bands added their three cents. It takes the form of a relatively uncomplicated and very narrative adventure game, in which the vocal is included. This is the equivalent of a musical, which we find in our industry unusual.
If you go to the bottom of this text, you will see what rating this work got. I know that some people do this to decide whether to read the text at all, so I will give you some advice. The grade is low. Very low. Before the premiere, however, nothing foreshadowed such a great catastrophe. It seems as if the creators wanted to stretch their product, so that nobody would accuse them of being just an interactive album like a DVD menu. The problem is that it looks pale as a game. For Of Bird and Cage, it would be much better if it became just this music album.
Because let’s start with this element, since music is advertised. The songs here are just right to please and it’s definitely a part of the game where the most work has been put into, because when dealing with ex-stars, someone was well aware of how to make music. Personally, I don’t really like the growling which is largely used in this soundtrack and I enjoyed listening to the songs that were free of growling, but it’s still a pretty good album.
Remember, however, that I am not a musician and it is difficult for me to approach a professional assessment of the musical value and performance of this album. So it would be best if some metalhead would take it and listen to it separately from the game and then say if it is really good. However, I can judge how this music fits the game. And this is not the best. As far as I could say that it is not at all, because the soundtrack in the world simply plays in the background. Poor for a title that aspires to be an interactive musical.
The creators do not play with convention. If someone expects to take an idea a step further and actually integrate music with fun (e.g. through rhythmic moments, changes in the pace of gameplay and narration, etc.), they will be sorely disappointed. Of Bird and Cage is not a unique experience that could be expected from this production. There is no new approach to storytelling through sounds like in a musical. I will repeat again.Neither the gameplay nor the story makes it worthwhile that aspiring to be a virtual musical is just a pipe dream. Of Bird and Cage is summa summarum the most ordinary Telltale-style adventure game, but with dubious final quality. It is a poor game, made carelessly and at cost, and on top of that it is medium thought.
It has the potential to be something better, of course, but it would need to be plowed bare and grounded to build a gameplay that matters more. Because here it is a bit as if someone who does not quite know what games are decided to make one of them. My only contact with games of this genre is limited to a cursory watching something on YouTube. I can not find any other explanation. Production is not sticking together; it is full of empty activities that lead nowhere. And this is in the fundamental aspects of building the gameplay and experience of the player.
Examples? Here you are. What gameplay elements do you think of when you think about Telltale games? Probably the dialogues, the QTE and the shrinking bar fragments where you have to make a decision. Yes, Of Bird and Cage builds its gameplay on these three pillars. Or rather, it tries to build, because the game is very shallow and most of the time we either follow what he tells us without a choice or we go astray, and it all comes down to a pattern: go, talk, QTE and repeat.
And even if we err, it’s hard to catch the authors’ intentions and we click randomly on objects, and perhaps one of them will lead us further. Example. The first step. We are in the bar and we want to convince the guest to let us sing in the open evening. We can’t talk to the type, and clicking on the instruments does nothing. What pushes the plot forward? A game of darts hidden somewhere in the corner! Well, in my life I would never have guessed if it hadn’t been for the fact that I was tangling all over the room! (PS. Contrary to appearances, darts do not rely on hitting the center of the target and playing darts is a bit more complicated).
Or this. QTE. Cool thing, they help make the game dynamic and make cutscenes more interactive. Some people like QTEs, others hate them, but they always have a purpose. Always? Unless it’s about Of Bird and Cage and quick time events placed in random places. Here are as pointless activities as QTE while drinking a glass of vodka! For what?! I blew this QTE on purpose and what happened? The following message appeared: When Gittta goes wrong, her insanity increases. Yes! The heroine drank vodka normally, but as I didn’t hold down the space bar and hit E, her level of insanity went up. But! It’s not over yet. I had to repeat that vodka drinking with doing QTE all over again.Besides… Who is normal to do QTE while drinking vodka?
I mentioned insanity… Forget it, it’s another mechanic that doesn’t matter. The heroine is a junkie who, if she does not get high, her psyche will sit down and we are faced with a choice whether to let her take drugs or make the gameplay difficult and play with a strange graphic filter. As a decent citizen and defender of the oppressed, of course, I kept her hungry and struggled with a dimmed screen, which was a pain in the ass, but didn’t make any major changes to the levels themselves.
Thus, we move on to the next element of Telltale games, which is the shrinking bar. The twist is that Of Bird and Cage decided to put this bar on most of the game! I understand the idea and willingness to add dynamics to the levels, but it doesn’t work because the player doesn’t have time to think and does things at random, instead of exploring the place they’ve found themselves in depth and looking for potential solutions to the puzzle. Imagine a classic point & click, I don’t know, Siberia, which, while playing, constantly urges you to solve puzzles faster, otherwise you will have the consequences.
It doesn’t add up! Such time trials make sense during scripted action scenes straight from Telltale, and not in adventure sections, where we walk on the board and collect items. For this reason, most of the levels were collapsed. I don’t know what to do, but my time flies here … This limit destroyed my experience of the game and made me feel the depressing feeling of constant failure. Because it’s hard not to kick something when I’m rushed, and after a defeat, the game does not take you back to the checkpoint, but keeps flowing, which makes us doomed to face our ineptitude *.
And we still have dialogues to discuss. This is another pointless element. So much so that the creators didn’t even try to make an illusion of choice and in a few cases gave us a dialogue with, beware, one dialogue option to choose from! One option! Then why call this dialog at all ?! It comes down to this. Option A: do something = push the plot. Option B: do nothing = close dialog. I haven’t seen anything like that in the games yet, be a witness to me. It was something to check off in the concept note, but then nobody wanted to write about these choices, or what? There is even a separate click bar underneath the dialogue option. What is selected after it expires? AND? Not! B and close dialogue so you have to click again!
You get the feeling that it worked like “you have a story, add a game to it”, and adding the game was lazy, as it was only about QTE in random places and artificial dialogues in between. The plot? Oh, the story! I forgot to mention the story.We play the role of Gitta, who, as has already been mentioned, is a junkie. One time she gets kidnapped and different things happen. I really don’t know what emotions the authors wanted to evoke in me, but the game doesn’t provide them. At most she manages to make her sighs of pity.
The story in Of Bird and Cage was clearly written by someone who does not know how to write plots. It is so poorly conducted that it is a waste of space to dwell on it in detail. The girl’s problems with drugs could be presented more artistically, and here we get a hammer-hammered reminder of how bad and dark her life is. She runs away from the dealer who is her boyfriend, another dealer offers her to take drugs for sex, the boss at the job screams, the client slaps his ass, the drunk old man kills his mother, the bar peasant turns out to be a rapist with a handkerchief soaked in chloroform at hand …
It’s like this: watch how sad it is, watch how bad it is. Look, sadly. It is sad and sad. Do you see this sadness? And again with a hammer to the head, one more time. The game cannot balance emotions. He tries to shock with a cheap sensation, but in fact this sensation becomes bizarre and qualitatively close to class D or E films. It is exaggerated to the point of absurdity, without a sense of taste. Coupled with the heroes’ lack of motivation, the story, like the whole game, is about nothing more than presenting kitschy scenes and trying to make the heroine a rag at any cost.
I know that the creators tried to come up with something different and had their own vision, but this game is just at its core. She even left a bad taste in the final, whose level design presented the quality of the worst craps, which they would be ashamed to sell even in a kiosk. I have not seen such a strange and shallow product for a long time. Unfortunately, I consider the time devoted to Of Bird and Cage to be lost. Stay away from this game! This is definitely not one of the bad titles it’s funny. He just tires. Graphically, it does not knock down, its plot bursts with a ton of nonsense, and gameplay … Oh, it’s a pity to talk.
* this stupid limit was dictated by the length of each song on the album. Well, here’s the question, what happened first. Egg or chicken? Were the designers given the music and they had to make a game under it, or was the music made for the game? Regardless, it just doesn’t work.