If you have been playing games on consoles recently, you have probably noticed a slew of smaller games from Ratalaika Games. They are a publisher that is bringing games from smaller developers to a larger audience. Their latest offering is Bird Game + from Bryan Tabor, a third person flying game that pits you against the environment.
You play as a bird that is travelling through an ever-changing environment that must dodge obstacles and battle bosses. This is done by moving your bird within the space while you are continually propelled forward. You can barrel roll to dodge quickly, but mostly you have to plan your route a little in advance, especially with moving items all around you.
When you first fire up this title you will notice how stark the design is. You can pick between normal game mode and Endless mode, Normal mode will lead you through the game, teaching you the fundamentals of controls, has check points, and features boss battles. Unfortunately, I started off in Endless mode. The basic controls are easy enough to pick up, but I died several times before I figured out the barrel roll, or the best way to fly against the cross winds.
The graphics are deceptively simple. You fly over the water with flowers, dragonflies, logs, and other organic obstacles in your way. In the distance, the items are just the outlines, but as you get closer they get some shading, which adds depth to the map. While beautiful, this causes difficulties in some places figuring out what you are going to encounter first, and then if you fly past say a large leaf, your view is obstructed. Coupled with the white background it can be a strain on the eyes after playing for a bit. You can change to dark mode, which has the background as shades of gray, which is easier on the eyes, but you will still get blocked views in heavily populated areas. The music is light and fanciful. It is almost too calming at some points as you are playing. There are many times when there is a disconnect between the tempo of the music and the chaotic action on the screen. This may have been done to promote a sense of peace during busy action sequences, but it tends to be more of a distraction.
Bird Game + is out now on XB1, Nintendo Switch and PS4 for a price of about $5. Unlike most games recently released from this publisher, there is a bit of replayability in the title. The achievements will take more than 5 minutes to get, and even once you have them you will want to test your abilities to play the higher difficulties or see just how far you can make it in Endless mode.