Of Bird And Cage

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Adventure
Publisher: All in! Games
Developer: Capricia Productions
Release Date: 2021


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PS4/XOne/PC Preview - 'Of Bird And Cage'

by Cody Medellin on Oct. 29, 2020 @ 1:00 a.m. PDT

Of Bird And Cage is both a video game and a music album, a metal music-driven adventure featuring a story synced with music performed by famous artists.

Just like it did in the summer, Steam presented players with another game festival full of developer streams of upcoming titles and playable demos to give people the feel of a convention. Of all of the games on display this time, one of the more interesting ones comes from Capricia Productions and All In! Games. At first glance, Of Bird and Cage might seem like a standard first-person adventure game, but that changes after a few minutes.

You play the role of Gitta, a young girl with a terrible childhood whose life as a 25-year-old is just as bad. While she's aspiring to be a singer, she's also hopelessly addicted to a designer drug that has her seeing fires, ravens, and other visions when she experiences withdrawal. As bad as things are now, her life is about to take some interesting turns as the night goes on.

In the early segments, Of Bird and Cage is a standard first-person adventure. You can talk to a few people at the bar, mess around with musical equipment, and play a round of darts to pass the time and win some drinks. Almost every activity you do requires you to make one of two choices, most of which are inconsequential, but it is nice to see the choices clearly laid out. Win the dart game, and you'll get to drinking, which introduces a mechanic that people will be split on: the Quick Time Event (QTE). Buttons will appear, and you'll either hold them down, press them once, or furiously tap on them to succeed. Losing doesn't produce an automatic "game over," so you can fail them as often as you'd like, but failure and bad decisions will sap away at your sanity, and that can only be cured with drugs. Based on the demo, the QTE is going to be a big part of the game since it shows up quite often, so be prepared to mash some buttons.

When you're prompted to give a CD to the sound guy at the bar, the game reveals its big gimmick: This is one giant playable concept album. The music from this point on never stops playing, and all of your actions never put a stop to the album. Every scene is explicitly tied to the song being played, and there are even flourishes that time themselves to the beat. Despite this, the title retains its adventure roots throughout, so there's no worry of this devolving into a rhythm game. The first level produces a fight at the bar while a song about your personal struggles plays in the background. The second level is much more mental in nature, as you find yourself in an alleyway running away from a mysterious bearded man while flames are all around you and walls explode.

At the moment, the concept works. Get into that fight in the first level, and the music perfectly times itself to be more uptempo than before. Every big drum beat in the second level is punctuated with explosions or the big reveal of the stalker catching up with you. The soundtrack perfectly adapts to every choice you make, and characters singing those lyrics makes for a surreal experience. The two levels in the demo do the concept justice, but it will be interesting to see how that evolves over the length of the game.

While there are obvious pathing and graphical issues early on, Of Bird and Cage remains a fascinating experiment. Having a playable metal album at your disposal is novel, especially since very few people have attempted anything like it without it being a strict rhythm title, and the choices that can be made are numerous enough that it overcomes the projected two-hour gameplay time due to the need to replay it several times to see everything that's offered. It'll be interesting to see how Of Bird and Cage progresses as it approaches its release date next year.

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