Of Bird and Cage Review – A comedy of errors

Gare – Friday, June 11, 2021 5:51 PM
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When the idea of a 2-hour-long metal album being presented as a semi-interactive video game was first brought up to me, I found it somewhat intriguing. I mean, on a conceptual level, it sounded great. And besides, I like video games and I like metal music, so the marriage of these two genres – if handled with enough maturity and creative care – could certainly result in something uniquely entertaining. Attach musical beats to your storytelling beats, tell a story through song lyrics… you get what I mean. So, what could possibly go wrong? Well, as it turns out, a whole lot of things.

Unintentional entertainment

On the musical front, Of Bird and Cage seemingly has a lot to offer. It boasts a lineup featuring artists from bands like Within Temptation, Epica and Guns N' Roses, among others, so if you’re a fan of this genre of music, chances are I’ve already piqued your interest. And to be perfectly honest, while it doesn’t necessarily appeal to my tastes, the soundtrack itself is such a non-issue compared to all the other Godzilla-sized problems present in the game that it’s almost not even worth fussing about. No, where Of Bird and Cage falls apart is gameplay, storytelling, writing, and… well, not being ridiculous all the time. Because that’s the strongest, most prominent impression I have of this game – that it’s just ridiculous. It’s farcical. It has to be seen to be believed, and not in a good way.

On paper, the storyline seems like it’s going to tackle dark, depressing themes like drug addiction, physical and mental abuse, and so on. And the game does include these elements, but in terms of execution and presentation, it falls flat on its face. The various interactive segments of the storyline consist of braindead quick time events that, frankly, should’ve died out from the industry a good decade ago, joyless puzzles that made me lose the will to live, and “action sequences” that border on being outright comical. There are also flashing lights and various annoying effects, but thankfully, each segment of the narrative comes with a time limit, meaning even if you don’t complete your given objective(s), you can continue on to the next segment. To me, this was like a gift from the heavens.

Put ‘em up, put ‘em up

I’m going to be specific about one particular aspect of the experience: the game includes multiple scenes where you need to start fist-fighting your opponent. No, I’m not making this up, and it nearly made me cry-laugh on several occasions. When I got into a fisticuff with my character’s drug dealer, who then started clumsily swinging at me like an angry Skyrim NPC, I just lost it. And then it happened over and over again. Through a series of nonsensical events, you meet a bearded guy who seems to be after you at first – you even fistfight him once! – but then becomes your partner in crime, and then you’re chased by the police, you take refuge at a warehouse, and then a massive, Matrix-like shootout happens with you and ol’ beardy boy gunning down dozens, and I do mean DOZENS, of police officers. The final nail in the coffin of my already fading sanity was when the game displayed a “NO AMMO” prompt on the screen during a cutscene… moments before my character shot a cop in the head anyway.

The animations are clumsy, the gameplay mechanics range between sleep-inducing and exasperating, and the way the storyline is presented is immature and comical. The “drugs” are in a blue potion vial straight out of Diablo. The drug dealer keeps a handwritten note in his drawer with “Drug buyers/Money for drugs” written on it in large, pronounced letters, just so everyone can see it. People sit and watch as you pour coffee down their pants while working at a diner. Your drug dealer literally starts chasing you down an apartment hallway like a boogeyman because he wants his money. And if you do try to solve the puzzles, you keep having to rush through things due to the time limit. I know I’m rambling, but this entire game is so far removed from reality that it genuinely feels like a drug-induced stupor (but not in a good, clever way, before someone yells “maybe that’s the point” at me), and this semi-incoherent rant of a review is the only way I can properly covey my feelings about it.

Final thoughts

Anyway, the bottom line is: stay away from this game. Stay far away. It got a few unintentional laughs out of me with its immature presentation and hilariously impromptu boxing matches, but is that alone worth the price of admission? No. The answer is no. I’m not happy I played it, but at the very least, whoever is reading this will hopefully know better than to do the same. I suffered so you won’t have to. So do the right thing.

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