The King’s Bird is a challenging platformer with momentum at its core. Serenity Forge is throwing their hat into the ring for the precision platforming genre.
The game is light on story elements preferring to tell is the story through the beautiful artwork and excellent soundtrack. Early in the game, we witness an argument between The King and his daughter. Rather than convey the story with in-game speech the characters sing to one another in a beautiful, yet expressive song. There are other story clues in the game found within the murals located throughout the world.
The King’s Bird is a platformer that wants to capture the rush of flying through the sky. It’s your job to maintain momentum forward to get over the many obstacles in the level. Levels are full of platforms, pillars and slopes to either get in your way or propel you forward. You can wall jump and glide, otherwise, it’s all about building up your forward momentum to have enough flight to get you across huge open spaces. Once you’ve built up enough energy to fly a whitetail billows out from the main character unlining the sense of speed and momentum. Movement in the early part of this game is a sheer joy.
Our main character can dash and glide, slide down hills and bounce up walls. Building up momentum and gliding feels fantastic and is definitely one of the high points of The King’s Bird. In the early stages of The King’s Bird, you feel free and movement is easy. Scaling the highest heights and jumping off to soar through the levels almost makes your stomach turn. Once you make your way through the early levels though the game’s difficulty levels ramp up to a point where it can become very challenging.
The subtle moves of the main protagonist are where the challenge and ultimately a little frustration lies. Gliding through the air is one thing, but the wall-jumping mechanic can be somewhat tricky to master. Jumping into a wall gives you a boost of momentum upwards and chaining these moves together offers a significant challenge.
The King’s Bird has four kingdoms – Forest, Lake, Sky, and Fallen. Each kingdom has a hub area with access to doors that lead to levels. Beating the levels unlocks a new door with access to a Shrine. Each level is fairly straight forward, reach the end goal and open up enough doors to make your way through the worlds. The worlds vary slightly and offer up different combinations of glide, dash and jump obstacles for players to overcome.
In an interesting twist, there are no enemies in the game. The main enemy is the environment from the poison ivy, water hazards, thorns, and pits. As you make your way through the series of obstacles you’ll find lamposts which act as checkpoints. There are collectibles throughout the world called Spirit Birds. These birds follow you around when you touch them which looks very nice indeed. However, the extra trouble of getting these weighed against the benefits of having them doesn’t always add up.
The early levels of the same seem somewhat welcoming, however, later parts of the game is where the real challenge lies. This is a super precise platforming game and the margin for error is very small, one false move and you’re dead starting back at the last checkpoint. If you like this kind of trial and error platformers when you’ll likely love this game as it’s definitely made with high-skilled players in mind. Speed runners will also get a lot out of the game as The King’s Bird likes to reflect your level time back at you, nudging you towards improving your times and getting better.
If you are really banging your head against the wall then there’s Assist Mode which will help you a little to get through levels. Gliding can be extended, invincibility against thorns and skip to the next checkpoint will be available. This offers up to players light relief in a tough game that requires high skill, precision, and patience. If you find yourself nearly throwing down the Switch, or your controller then give this mode a go.
The King’s Bird is a challenge. The game looks and sounds very nice indeed. The minimalist graphics combined with the soaring audio is a joy and the early stages of jumping, flying and gliding through the sky is a great feeling. The name of the game here is repetition, training and learning to beat the challenge that’s been laid in front of you. If you are a fan of the genre then this game is likely to whet the appetite. If you are new to this genre then it may seem a little unforgiving at first, but stick with it and give Assist Mode a go if you get really stuck.
Developer: Serenity Forge
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PC
Release date: 23rd August 2018