- Developer : Tomas Sala
- Publisher : Wired Productions
- Price : £24.99 / $29.99
- Release Date : 05/08/2021
- Review Copy Provided By Wired Productions
Introducing: The Falconeer: Warrior Edition Review
When you have a really cool concept, it’s super important that you give it all of the pomp and circumstance it needs. For instance, look at the trailers for Marvel Vs Capcom 3. The idea was to have a crossover fighting game that functioned like a comic book when fighters used their special attacks. So when you had characters like Wolverine literally leaving slash marks in the pages, you knew that the people making this game knew what they were working with and knew how to make it sing. Tying back to the topic at hand, The Falconeer is an interesting bird (HA!) in that it has a really cool concept that deserves to be showcased in the coolest way possible: Aerial dogfights on the back of giant fantasy eagles over a planet covered nearly entirely in ocean. This sounds awesome! So… did they do it? Did they make it rock as hard as it needed to?
Let’s talk about The Falconeer: Warrior Edition.
Fly Like An Eagle
The Falconeer is a story from a few different perspectives that tells the story of several different regions of the world of Ursea. Each chapter has you choosing a member of a different region ranging from a civilian who just wants to help defend their area from Pirates set on stealing what little wealth they have, to Military officials who are doing their best to investigate conflicts around them and dealing with other insane nonsense. Each mission begins with a small map-styled cutscene explaining what you will be doing and then you are immediately whisked off to the mission. Each mission consists of a brief task which might be exploring or escorting a ship or package of some sort and usually has some sort of combat segment before you head back to your home base and claim your reward (usually in the form of the game’s currency, splinters). As far as mission structure goes, it’s fairly basic and it certainly does its job well enough.
As each story unfolds, you get bigger parts of an overarching story that explains a different aspect of the political and civilian lives and aspirations of the different nations of Ursea. I found myself not entirely invested in the world, but I will say that the story is well put together. There’s some extensive writing and world building that took place by the writing team. Also, it’s a cool touch to hear the stories from differing perspectives and starting as a civilian was a great choice.
Gliding Through The Skies
To be fair here (because there will be some criticisms coming up) the air combat and control of your warbird are pretty great. Each bird has a stamina meter used for accelerating and evading. Refilling this meter is pretty cool as just flying around will slowly refill your stamina, but going into a dive will not only refill that gauge significantly faster, but also give you a big speed boost. Next you have ammo regenerating via flying through lightning storms (which is sick and I totally love it), but you need to be careful to not overcharge your ammo cells otherwise you take damage. Each bird also has a powerful cluster shot that homes onto enemies and deals significant damage. The controls are tight! Turning feels nice and flying feels great. I have literally no gripes in this department.
The issue I have is entirely with the missions in this game. This game feels like a hundred escort quests with very little variation. Sure, very rarely something will change and give way to something interesting, but not before 3 hours of “Please go to point A and then escort this ship/package/person back to point B”. Like, I get it, you’re setting up for something, but it does not make for engaging or fun gameplay. That might be the most frustrating part of this whole experience. This game’s premise is DOPE and the controls are fabulous, it’s just not an engaging gameplay loop.
Man, this game could really use some music. Like, I get it, the guy who made this game also is responsible for one of the biggest Skyrim mods out there (Moonpath to Elsweyr), but this game is just atmospheric wind blowing and flapping of wings. If this game had a beautiful soundtrack to accompany the beautiful world and combat that Falconeer has to offer then I would have had a much easier time feeling engaged to the action on screen. That’s not to say that there’s no audio. The Falconeer has an impressive amount of voice over and line delivery through each mission. It’s just a shame that the atmospheric sounds don’t really keep it exciting or engaging as the game progresses.
As for art style though, this game is real pretty. Each bird looks beautiful and the world you soar through is interesting when it wants to be. Occasionally you’ll fly through clouds and storms that are delightful to go through. Really, just about everything looks good here. My only real complaint is not having any kind of ammo counter that is easy to decipher on how much you have left. I say this because on the back of your falcon there are two tanks glowing with various energies. Honestly, I’m not sure which tank goes to which ammo, because after a few hours of gameplay I still couldn’t tell. On top of not knowing which goes to which, the game just kind of hopes that you can keep an eye on it while you’re in the middle of an intense dogfight. On a few of the missions I ran out of ammo and had no idea that I was even close to running out, so I had to break from the combat, find a storm and then get my energy restored. Something as simple as a counter, or even a meter near your health in the bottom left corner would be stupendous.
This game functions pretty well on a technical level. I never really had any problems on handheld mode and docked mode worked smoothly as I played a few hours that way. There was a bit of slowdown in some menu screens, but nothing that I would call notable or game breaking. The polish is evident on optimizing this for the Switch. While handheld mode is nice, I would recommend playing this docked as a lot of the game feels like it needs to be played on a bigger screen. While a majority of my time was played handheld (having kids makes claiming our one TV for myself for any period of time difficult) I enjoyed what I played, but reticles and enemies were hard to see coming from any distance. A lock on feature was nice, but this definitely benefits from a larger resolution.
Coming In For A Landing
Personally, The Falconeer was a really cool concept that I’m not sure landed as well as the developer was hoping it would. While combat is easily the best part and the birds control well in the skies, I found myself being not invested in the story at large. I’m sure there will be people who really enjoy this game, but it fell a little flat for me. Now, again, this is not saying that this is not a good game. At its core, the combat and flight are quality. It just didn’t quite scratch the itch for me. This is all the work of ONE MAN. And you have to give that credit where it’s due. I’m sure some of you will love this for everything it is, and I hope you do. It’s just not quite what I’m looking for.
- Tight controls and fun flight
- Combat is fun and easily one of the best parts of the whole game.
- One guy made this. ONE!
- A story that never quite hooked me.
- I hope you like escort missions, because that’s almost all you’re getting.