I was eager to jump into Falcon Age right away once I had my copy. I had seen the game a few days earlier at PAX East and loved what I saw during my meeting with Outerloop co-founder, Chandana Ekanayake. During our meeting, I could hear his passion for this game and it was clear that the title has been a labor of love.
Once I played it myself, I could see the passion pouring out in the form of the bond between Ara, the game’s protagonist, and her fierce but delightful bird companion. I think this is where Falcon Age shines the brightest, when you’re interacting and working in tandem with the falcon.
Falcon Age tells a quick story of Ara and her newfound bird friend. Starting with her escape from prison and entering back into her world that robotic colonizers are slowly taking over. With the help of her avian associate, Ara works to help reclaim the land from these robots by clearing out refineries they have taken over. There is a varying degree of mechanical baddies that Ara must face by working with her feathered friend to attack, stun and bomb enemies throughout her quest.
For a game that takes place in the desert, the setting is very vibrant. There is a lot of great use of warm colors and lighting that liven up a world that we would normally think should be rather bleak or dull. The scattered wildlife and vegetation make the setting enjoyable and comforting, especially for a desert.
The stories and fun quips from the NPCs make me want to see more of this world but Falcon Age leaves a lot to be desired in that regard.
The story doesn’t contain a lot of depth and is pretty standard for stories with similar plots. There are important characters in Ara’s life who are on her side, wanting to fight the robots and there are others who see the side of the new colonizers, trying to get Ara to understand and convert. Along the way, you run into other characters throughout who share the same commitment to fighting back and some who have lost hope. The game is relatively short so the story being as shallow as it is isn’t a big detractor. The gameplay and overall interacting with the bird more than makes up for what the story lacks.
The real heart of the game is being best friends with the bird and working together. It’s incredibly satisfying to send the bird after a rabbit or goat and call it back after it has gracefully slammed the animal into the ground. Those moments are made greater when you replace the wildlife with robots and work together to take control of the different refineries. Luckily, it’s not all about fighting.
Some of my best times with the game were completing side quests and mini-games to win toys for the bird. I haven’t watched a bird on a skateboard (except for Tony) for that long until Falcon Age. I’m not sure when the bird learned how to kickflip and flip a water bottle all at once, but its damn good at it. But it’s not just toys, I giggled for way too long after putting a dog hat on the bird. And after a fight, petting the bird and tending to its wounds cemented the bond between the characters.
Every interaction with your friend is incredibly charming and full of life. Playing the game in VR only made these moments better. Calling out to your feathered friend and extending your arm for it to land on, ending the motion with a bird-fist bump felt so immersive. Outside of a few technical issues, Falcon Age is perfect in VR.
The bird is, however, extremely intimidating in VR. I recommend using the hat that keeps the bird the size of a newborn to be able to see better and because a falcon staring you in the eyes can put fear in anyone.
As much fun as it is to command the bird and use a laser whip to attack robots, the combat does get a little repetitive. Falcon Age scales in difficulty at a fair pace considering the game’s length by adding different robots to battle. It is criminal that I cannot name the bird Robin as I’m fighting robot crimes. I would also welcome a cape and mask to complete the potential ass-kicking set up.
It’s never too challenging but if combat isn’t your thing, Outerloop offers you a choice to play the game in Imprint Mode. In Imprint Mode you get the whole game without the fighting and this is the mode I recommend while playing in VR. Using your laser whip with a Move controller can be frustrating, luckily you can avoid it completely and focus on playing with the bird and cooking it food.
Falcon Age misses the mark when it comes to a narrative but what it lacks in story is made up for by having one of the most charming companions across all video games. The game is its best when you’re spending time bonding with your bird over hunts, toys, pets and taking down robot baddies.
Earning new toys and outfits for the bird is an absolute joy. The experience is made even better when played in VR and is a must own if you have a Playstation VR set up. My new regret in life is that I don’t have a falcon of my own the put cute hats on.