A Bird Story (and a callback to To the Moon)

So a while and half ago, I did a brief review on To the Moon, an interactive story by Freebird Games. To briefly summarise, To the Moon is about two scientists delving into the mind of a dying man to trigger a butterfly effect of memories that would result in him going to the moon. Inception cross Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless mind (the better of those two movies). End thoughts: A good story embedded in what can be loosely defined as a game. I never got around to finishing because it wasn’t engaging enough.

Since then, I played a shorter, spiritual successor to To the Moon called A Bird Story, made by the same developers. A Bird Story is about a young boy who takes in an injured bird and befriends it. The boy sees the bird as a massive boon on his life and struggles to let it go when it shows signs of recovery. A Bird Story is purely an interactive story. There are no game elements. You simply control the character and interact with plot points.

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His expression says, “Ah yes, a bird.”

So is it worth playing? If you like a good story, then yes. It only takes two hours and it’s nothing short of impressive how much emotion and story the developers manage to convey without dialogue and with pixel graphics. A lot of credit needs to go to the director, Kan Gao, and the sprite designer, Gabriela A. The faces of their characters, which are composed of about 15 pixels, convey more emotion and nuances than any of the Expendable films (not the best example, but I figured using any Keanu Reeves example would be a cheap shot).

While this was an interactive story, the interactive part added nothing and it was more or less unnecessary. That being said, if I had set out to watch a two hour, pixel-art story, I probably wouldn’t have managed to finish. It’s an interesting to think that games automatically boosts viewer/player engagement, even when the engagement is in the barest forms.

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50% of A Bird Story is set in this room

After finishing A Bird Story, and upon recommendations, I went back to finish To the Moon, which is easily the better of the games. The addition of dialogue not only bring extra dimensions to the characters, but the writing itself is on point. The story is stronger and there’s a bit more interaction with the world than in A Bird Story. The game elements interspersed throughout seem to be there for the sake of it. While they don’t add anything, they don’t detract from the game either.

Rating Innovation

There’s nothing particularly innovative about A Bird Story. The pixel graphics are reminiscent of the SNES days and while done very well, don’t expect anything new.

Excellence

And while there’s nothing much to be said about the innovation, that’s not really the point. The game is a medium to deliver an excellent story and it does so to a high standard.

Conclusion

 A Bird Story is a pleasant and emotional story that is concisely delivered. It’s not quite the spiritual successor to To the Moon, as it doesn’t quite have the complexity and depth, but is still worth the play if you like a good story.

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A Bird Story is available on Steam for and the Humble Store $4.99 USD.
The next review in about 4 weeks will be on Helldivers
Next week
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