Falcon Age (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Nayu 16.05.2021

Review for Falcon Age on Nintendo Switch

Originally released as a virtual reality title, Falcon Age by Outerloop Games launched on Nintendo Switch in October 2020. Imprisoned merely for being human on a desolate world by a cooperation entirely run by robots, Ara makes her escape, flees to her nomadic aunt, all the while tending for an orphaned falcon and learning the ancient act of falconry. Guided by her aunt, Ara works on overthrowing the robotic overloads despite appeals from her own family to give up and go live with them.

Looking at the plot of Falcon Age makes it sound so exciting. Being a rebel is always fun, right? Especially when there are hard choices to be made like Ara's mother pleading for her to stop creating havoc, go and behave and live in peace with her, where she can have a pet that isn't her falcon. It would be preferable to hiding from the evil robots she had escaped from, scrounging food from the surrounding area, and being manipulated by her aunt. With all the opposition Ara faced from her captors and the harsh environment around her, she truly should have gone with her mother, if not purely for the fact that the event at the end of the game goes against what Ara was told throughout her rebellion, and for what felt like the first time in gami¬¬¬ng history made the game feel pointless and the few hours spent in the game resulting in regret instead of satisfaction.

Screenshot for Falcon Age on Nintendo Switch

This opens with Ara in prison, being given orders on when to eat, sleep, and be allowed outside; it was a promising start. Her life was dull and without meaning. Following orders day in and day out harboured some resentment, but not knowing much else - at least in terms of the game - Ara had no choice other than to obey. There seemed no way to escape, no change to the monotony, until the day the baby falcon's mother was killed for defending its chick against harm.

Ara couldn't see the little bird suffer. The first moments of holding the bird, giving it comfort and some food were tricky while learning which buttons to press, but the emotional connection between the bird and human was palpable. Its cute little round body and head made caring for it a pleasure. Having it fly on and off Ara's arm was rewarded with various realistic chirps and cries. The fact that it wasn't confiscated from her by the robots was strange; surely they knew her people's history with falcons, how it can be an equally beneficial partnership through a lot of effort?

Screenshot for Falcon Age on Nintendo Switch

What let the experience down was how the falcon was used for the rest of the game. Yes, Ara and her bird together completed missions set by her aunt and other rebels, such as destroying key facilities, finding strange items, navigating a mine field. What may have worked well in virtual reality didn't provide the same buzz in normal vision. Pop-up dialogue boxes with instructions for cooking and other instances couldn't always be read easily, because the camera needed swivelling in order to read the entire box clearly. If the player had limited to no experience of both virtual reality and first person adventures, it was not necessarily obvious how to view and use the recipe cards needed for the simplistic cooking.

If the food put in didn't match a recipe in the game - even those which had not been discovered - the ingredients just remained in the pan, and this wouldn't cook up a failed dish. Collecting the ingredients was at times fun, sometimes using the falcon to fly and grab the item if it was out of Ara's reach, or actively hunting down small animals like mice or rabbits was a bonding experience and released endorphins when successful. These activities increased the bond between Ara and her falcon… but they often looked simplistic, and apart from initially using the food for occasional stat boosts in missions, the properties they gave was not really needed for completion.

Screenshot for Falcon Age on Nintendo Switch

Much of the experience was going from point A to point B, doing whatever Ara's aunt asked or the rebels asked. Ara never really got to think for herself or decide if she should be rebelling. She could give different answers, which gained a different reaction from whoever she spoke to, but these never really affected where Ara's journey would end up. There wasn't an option for her to leave her crazy aunt and strike it out on her own, which seemed the best option at one moment. Despite nurturing a falcon she was treated like a child, not the young woman who she was.

Worst of all was the interaction with the falcon. The expectation of having a realistic relationship with the falcon, helping feed it, having to be wary of its claws and beak and temperament, all of that was not included. Petting the bird had a range of actions, with few being realistic to a bird's nature. Forming heart with Ara's hands for the chick to go through was cute, whereas having the grown bird form a heart with its claw against Ara's hands was tacky. Having the bird perform a dab dance move spoiled the immersion, as did the ridiculous hats, beards, skateboards, and other items which could be discovered through completing quests and buying items. It felt like the designers couldn't decide whether to make it a realistic bird, or a fantasy like bird, so they included both styles which resulted in it feeling a mess. What kind of bird of prey with predator instincts can draw? The precision needed in getting the bird in position at a certain angle to Ara to complete some quests made the gameplay a chore. Certainly having the falcon it be shot at with darts and having to remove them one by one felt satisfactory, but overall gameplay was not as expected or enjoyable.

Screenshot for Falcon Age on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

4/10
Rated 4 out of 10

Subpar

The concept of taking care of a bird of prey during a rebellion is highly appealing for bird lovers. Unfortunately most expectations of bird care and the intriguing story of Falcon Age were not met. What could have been an immersive game ported smoothly from VR, was the exact opposite with poor game mechanics, a weak ending that made playing this feel pointless and a complete waste of time. What works in VR does not always translate into an ordinary non-VR title, and Falcon Age should have remained a VR exclusive and not be released on the Nintendo Switch.

Developer

Outerloop Games

Publisher

Outerloop Games

Genre

Action Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  4/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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