Despite All My Rage…
HIGH Getting anything done before the time’s up.
LOW Being beat up by every man in the story.
WTF The sheer amount of bugs and craziness is astounding.
In the last ten years, there have been a few interesting experiments in fusing music and interactivity together in video game medium, but none have reached the level of sheer craziness or the astounding number of inexplicable narrative choices that Of Bird And Cage manages.
On paper, it looks like an interesting proposal — it’s an interactive metal album that plays like a first-person adventure. Apparently, the original idea dates back to 2014, though it is unclear what happened in development between now and then. From what I gather, the music had already been recorded but the game wasn’t being produced. Regardless, one thing is for sure — the last seven years didn’t do it any favors.
I’m not a reviewer that likes to punish games or speak ill of developers, but Of Bird and Cage is really hard to defend. Basically, it’s a retelling of Beauty and the Beast enriched with drug addiction, rape, molestation and shootouts with the police. The player will put on the shoes and apron of waitress Gitta Barbot as she tries to escape the clutches of Bres Lupus (ha!) or… maybe she actually needs his help?
The player has a limited amount of time to explore each location, trying to solve puzzles (like serving coffee to earn money or finding a weapon) before the music stops and they’re transported to the next scene. This does not work. The puzzles soon become complicated enough to require the player to think while constantly under time pressure — it makes this aspect of the game not enjoyable or entertaining at all.
The narrative is terribly disjointed and tonally all over the place. In the first chapter, Gitta (who wears an apron from the first scene until the end, because… she’s a waitress?) gets into a fistfight with her drug dealer, is threatened by her rich boyfriend over 30$ (talk about being petty!) and gets molested by her father — and all of this, in the space of an afternoon.
Gitta apparently needs her drugs to escape a sort of ongoing nightmare that makes the screen distorted and nigh-impossible to decipher — it’s a badly implemented mechanic. The narrative is also supposed to be influenced by player choice but, from what I’ve seen, little changes in what seems like default set of events. For example, it’s not possible to avoid being captured by the beast since Gitta has to discover the sad story behind his heinous acts.
In a perfect case of reach exceeding grasp, the developers also tried to implement a fighting system (!!!) and a first-person shooter sequence (!!!) where Gitta will open fire against a seemingly endless swarm of policemen. Both of these elements control terribly, and the experiences are miserable. Add to these a series of QTEs that use such a terribly complicated system that reacting in time is almost impossible since it’s unclear what the player needs to do — a quick tap? Press a key once? Press two keys at the same time? It’s incredibly confusing.
On the bright side — and really, the only one I can think of — is that the music in Of Bird and Cage is fine, especially if one likes symphonic metal. There are also contributions from musicians like Bumblefoot and Ruud Jolie (Within Temptation). Unfortunately, as much as Of Bird And Cage would make for a nice listen, it’s a visually poor experience with character models that look imported directly from 2014 alongside plenty of graphical bugs and glitches.
In the end, Of Bird and Cage left me with a terrible taste in my mouth, and I wondered how it managed to get released today. In fact, it’s so bad that I would almost recommend it to connoisseurs of terrible games, but frankly, I’m not sure I could live with my conscience.
Disclosures: This game is developed by Capricia Productions and published by All In! Gaming. It is currently available on PC. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on PC. Approximately 3 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode and the game was completed. There are no multiplayer modes.
Parents: The game is not rated by the ESRB. While it contains no nudity, there’s a lot of everything else — sexual references, violence, blood, horror and plenty of salty language. Not recommended for anyone under the age of 18.
Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available, and heads up that there are plenty of screen effects that can make things hard to decipher, even for someone with perfect sight.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: This game features subtitles for both the spoken dialogue and the musical parts. Text cannot be altered or resized. (See examples above.) The game is fully accessible.
Remappable Controls: The game is controlled via keyboard and mouse to move around, with specific keys to cycle the inventory and interact with the environment. The controls are remappable.
Years later, he got the idea that he was the most Sega-knowledgeable person in the world, so he opened a website in 1997, The Genesis Temple.
He's a sucker for great stories in gaming, he loves adventure and indie titles, but he never shies away from action and triple-A RPGs.
Damiano's been writing about videogames for 20 years, with no plans to stop. Say hi to him on Twitter at @damgentemp, or on his blog https://genesistemple.com (now dedicated to the history of video game design).
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