Review by John Hellier
No, I can’t do it…Seriously I can’t start a review with that, everyone will hate me…Must. Resist…B-b-b-bird bird bird, bird is the word….
Right, now that is out of my system, on with the review. Songbird Symphony is, on paper at least, quite a hard sell. Coming to us from Joysteak Studios is a very cutesy, very twee 2d platformer/rhythm game. Now, this might sound like a random mash-up of genres, and to be fair it is, but like peanut butter and chocolate it works remarkably well.
We play as an aggressively adorable (TM) bird called, and I kid you not, Birb, as he navigates the world and attempts to discover who he is and what. Along the way you encounter many other equally cutesy characters in what I can only describe as a musical videogame.
That actually goes both ways, there is a lot of music in the world, the main driving force being to learn the notes of the various races, but also in so far as the story, which is mostly portrayed in the song.
Well, I say the song, the lyrics are presented on the screen with a bouncing ball of sing-a-long (patent pending) and the music plays along with it. This is actually quite beautiful at times and is a nice way to bring across the story.
At various stages in the story Birb has, for lack of better words, song battles, and this is where the main rhythm part of the gameplay comes in. Starting out simply at first, later “battles” involve more notes and different interfaces in order to mix up the gameplay, and at times the required inputs are blisteringly quick.
However, this is not as bad as it sounds. Usually, rhythm games punish those who have a bad sense of, well, rhythm, but Songbird Symphony does things differently.
There is no failure, no need to retry sections over and over in order to make progress, all that will happen is the grade you receive will below. This is a nice addition, as it means kids can enjoy the cutesy animals and platforming, without getting frustrated by a tough song.
Not to say that Songbird Symphony is just for kids though. The story is genuinely emotional at times, and there are more than enough references to other games to keep an eye out for too.
Unlike in other games (cough Irony Curtain cough), the references here are expertly handled. Ranging from Hollow Knight to Skyrim (as is law I believe) via Sonic and others, there are enough nice touches to catch you off guard.
Speaking of nice touches (minds out of the gutter thank you) there are plenty of others I could mention, such as movement animations fitting the mood (no spoilers, but you will know when you get there) the one that stands out for me most might sound a little odd.
The autosave icon. Yes, that’s right, Songbird Symphony has the most adorable little autosave I’ve seen in ages. Just simply Birb pushing a block with “saving” written on it, then pushing it back off the screen, but its attention to detail like that which makes a good game great.
Oops, kind of gave my opinion away there didn’t I? Songbird Symphony is fantastic and I highly recommend it.
As far as platformers go I’d say it’s up there with the likes of Celeste, and that’s not something I say lightly. Sure there is no real challenge with the lack of failure, but that just means Joysteak could focus on the important things.
As an aside, if like me you are a bit of a Magpie trophy wise, then a whole pile of gold trophies and platinum are up for grabs (if only I can figure out how to get into the party the platinum is mine…)
So yeah, two thumbs up for Songbird Symphony. If you enjoy a good story with a lot of heart and some humor below the surface then this is for you. Actually, I can be more succinct (kneel at my vocabulary skills). Like Pixar movies? Play Songbird Symphony
Overall Score – 9/10
Seriously though, any help with this last trophy would be appreciated…