Guest author Alex Orona is a contributor to the Super GG Radio Podcast, which you can find here.
Falcon Age is a first person action adventure game, originally for VR, which tells a charming coming of age tale. It’s rare to see VR games ported to consoles, so the question for me is, how well does it transition from VR to regular consoles? Usually we see normal games ported to VR with mixed results. To debate the versions, though, one must know the game as a whole.
Falcon Age elicits Native American themes with a corporate upheaval undertone. Players are to combat an invading alien force that is draining the planet of its resources and you do so as a Falconer.The protagonist’s “auntie” sets the path with quests and pivotal plot points with other non-player characters peppered in for flavor and side quests. The story stays relatively cookie-cutter with a late stage twist regarding your mother attempting to hilariously bribe you to the corporate dark side with pictures of pets on her phone. They don’t try hard enough to dissuade you.
As far as gameplay is concerned, it’s simple first person movement with your only weapons being your falcon and a whip/baton. The whip is used to stun/pull and the baton is a basic attack to shut down the factory machines. Your falcon represents the core mechanic with context sensitive actions and gear to switch up the gameplay.
When you recall your falcon to your arm, you can send them out using situational actions. For example, your character sticks their hand out, a line is drawn from your hand to a dirt pile and the word “Dig” is highlighted above it indicating the action. These only function on what has been preset, so there is little room for improv, but it also makes clear what exactly it wants from you and the limitations of the falcon itself. Explicitly giving directions removes experimentation, leaving the general gameplay feeling same-y and dull.
The movement of Falcon Age feels limited with wall and path collusion restricting your movement to confined hallways, even in open areas. This includes a generous amount of invisible walls, texture pop-in and auto triggering canned animations that remove control briefly. I also felt a considerable amount of hitching and stuttering in gameplay. While the choppiness never felt hindering,the texture pop-in and occasional T-posed NPCs definitely took me out of the world.
Outside of the world what really stands out is the charming characters, specifically the falcon. There’s a button for interacting with the falcon that can be used to give them items or equip gear but also for adorable tricks. Seeing your falcon do one half of a heart symbol with the player avatar is heartwarming, and watching the baby falcon dab is hilarious.These are punctuated with items such as a cardboard box that when given to the falcon gives a breakdancing animation. It goes on and on including one Transistor Easter egg that made me laugh out loud. The falcon is the star of the show here and it brings a level of love and personality. Other NPCs brought some interesting characterization, but not enough to stand out.
Falcon Age has some real potential, but there is little variability to the gameplay, even within the game’s short 3-4 hour story, so it feels repetitive. On Nintendo Switch specifically, there is no bonus use of the Joycons which at least in my opinion, is a missed opportunity. The real star is the falcon itself, so it’s sad that something so charming would end up in a world that lacks imagination.The story and setting finds shaky footing on consoles outside of VR.
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Categories: Games & Tech