Game Review: Cat Bird

So first up, some core details about the game, it’s a beautiful 2D Platformer, created by Ryan Carag, an artist, designer and programmer through his independent games studio, Raiyumi. Music for the game was created by Julien Mier. It was created using Stencyl, a freely available to use, video game development tool which allows users to create 2D video games for a variety of platforms. 

Okay, so now that we’ve got that out of the way let’s talk a little more about my experience with the game, firstly I came across it entirely by chance. I was factory resetting my phone as I do semi-regularly to make sure it doesn’t get clogged up with the minutiae of day-to-day use and while I was reinstalling the apps I use a lot I came across Cat Bird. I was attracted to it for three reasons, firstly you can play it without Wi-Fi which means I could conserve mobile data while commuting to and from college, secondly it doesn’t demand anything of your time, I’ve been trying out a lot of new games lately for review purposes and I’m constantly being bombarded with notifications for every little thing, and to be completely honest even with a really good game that can be incredibly off-putting. Cat Bird is very chill, no unnecessary notifications, very limited advertisements, and it’s very easy to get into, no tutorials you can’t skip that take literal hours, you just open it up and start playing. Lastly, and as I kind of touched on a moment ago, the game is simple but engaging, and can be picked up for a quick distraction, or be played for hours. 

Firstly, the artwork is lovely, I’ve always been a fan of pixel art and this is just so adorable. Put it this way, I died…ALOT in this game, but the calming combination of visuals and music just kept me chilled out. So I haven’t really talked about the gameplay yet, but it’s fairly straightforward, an obstacle based platformer that sees the titular ‘Cat Bird’ travelling through over 50 levels, and four worlds on his way home. 

I think the cute aesthetic really helps to balance out the rising death counter in the corner, speaking of which, something that I really liked is that you have no offensive capabilities, you literally jump and glide across each level, and during the four boss fights you are just moving around the area avoiding their attacks and using the environment to disable them instead. It really makes for a more exciting experience because you are essentially entirely at the mercy of the game mechanics and you need to work out how to beat it. 

You navigate around increasingly complex levels, getting past spikes, disappearing platforms, enemies and rogue gusts of wind. It’s all very fun, and the levels grow steadily in complexity and difficulty, without becoming so hard that it ceases to be enjoyable. Instead it remains very challenging, because even as you become more competent at using the mechanics of the game, and navigating the world, you still encounter new elements which need to be worked through. 

I really liked the bosses too, each designed differently and each required different tactics to beat them. That being said, the third of the four bosses was distinctly more difficult than any of the other three. Although once you worked out the best approach it was just about timing and a little bit of luck.

Speaking of difficulty, I’ve gotten pretty good at the game, but just when you feel like you’ve become the best player in the world, you can increase the difficulty in a few different ways. Firstly, you can start collecting the crowns, there are a handful of them in each world, spread at random on various levels. They are usually put in a place that’s trickier to get to and so therefore requires greater skill to collect. Next, there are the time trials. This opens up each world, where you attempt to blast through each level and the world as a whole, as quickly as possible. This on its own is quite tricky, but at least through Google Play, there is an achievement for completing each world in five deaths or less. This was the real test for me, because doing it quickly is hard but doing it quickly, and with as few deaths as possible really presented a real challenge. I managed it but it took me a good few days. And a heck of a lot of attempts. 

So Cat Bird is entirely free to play, and even the adverts weren’t too excessive, I reckon they popped up every five to ten deaths, sometimes more, sometimes less. But more importantly, they weren’t too intrusive to the overall gameplay. 

Despite completing the full game, with all 18 achievements, I still regularly return to the game as it’s genuinely fun. So with all of that in mind I think I’ll give it a 5/5 and suggest you get it for yourself on your preferred platform, whether it be the App Store and Google Play.

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