A Moving Painting
Instead of focusing on engaging gameplay, over-the-top action scenes, or balanced multiplayer arena warfare, Feather takes a step backward by providing a relaxing but barely interactive experience.
Calling Feather a game isn’t exactly true since there are no objectives, no secrets, no ways to win, no penalties, no leveling mechanics, and actually very little in terms of interactivity. Therefore, this bird flight simulator is the flying equivalent to a Yule log. Using Star Fox controls, the player can control speed using the triggers, barrel roll with the shoulder buttons, then tweet and do a 180 flip using the face buttons… and that is it. Controlling the bird (eagle?) actually feels pretty responsive but without any objectives or things to do, it loses its appeal very quickly. There are these large hoops scattered throughout the game’s only small island, and they cause the music track to change as if hitting the “next track” button on a music player, but that is it.
If the player flies into a wall or reaches the invisible wall at the edge of the island, the game reverses time in a slow-mo effect to give the player the opportunity to correct the path of flight. I did manage to find a few secret portals that instantly warped my bird to a very high point above the island, causing a speed inducing free fall. The time of day also changed from morning-noon-night but didn’t affect gameplay in any way. There is a nice sense of speed when the bird falls from a great height only to swoop down and skim a patch of grass or water, but there just isn’t anything to do. Instead of controlling the bird, this “game” might even be better if there was an option to just passively watch the bird fly around on its own and enjoy the whimsical visuals and endearing soundtrack as background noise while cooking dinner.
Feather is cool for about four minutes before its puts you to sleep with boredom. Flying through hoops to change the music just isn’t enough incentive to play this game. The one island isn’t even that well designed and there is no option to stop and perch on a ledge to passively enjoy the visuals and soundtrack. At best, it feels like an unfinished tech demo; the game even froze at start up a couple of times. Instead of relaxing me, it just made me yearn for a new, good Star Fox game.
Not As Good As: Barnstorming (Atari 2600)
Also Try: Vane (PS4/PC)
Play It Instead: Pilotwings Resort (3DS)