ULTRA-INDIE Daily: How Bird of Passage Inaudibly Wails

Bird of Passage is a game of emotional depth and there are many things to love about this game. I, however, found this game is not for me but I won’t let that stop me from polishing this jade. This game is of conversations, players choose what the passenger says and guide them to their destination by their dialogue choices. The storytelling is the strongest component of this game with low-poly characters brimming with personality. Where I personally diverge is I had difficulty liking the passenger but I still found them sympathetic.

The progression of conversation is very much trial and error which I found was testing but it fits the theme and complexity of the story. By searching out different speech lines more of the passenger’s identity and needs are slowly revealed. The quirky and shallow attitude the passenger may exhibit builds tension as a variation in tone can have them bailing in the middle of a topic. The main issues they speak about have two sides, the topics are Tokyo which the passenger witnessed destroyed by an earthquake, and their love of ginkgo trees that are resilient enough to survive natural disasters and manmade radiation hazards. The manner in which they regard it is between sentiment, nostalgia, and conservative.

Given how this person lost the home they had the melodramatic manner at times rubs me the wrong way. It’s stated that Tokyo had been long rebuilt since the disaster, but the passenger’s desperation to remember the old Tokyo does imply that the current Tokyo is lacking because it’s not as they remember. That does carry accusation to the people who currently call the rebuilt Tokyo their home. These complications in the passenger’s politics are however resolved with a focus on their grief rather than self-indulgence. The character’s obsession is not due to scapegoating their own unfulfillment, it is born out of a need for closure over the incident. Despite that, I felt the passenger’s fickle attitude made it more complicated than required.

The atmosphere of the game captured the reverberating yet tranquil velocity of urban nightlife. Rainfall on pavement, the drones, wails, and pulsing ambiance pound through the taxi shell. None of the city is actually visible but on the glistening taxis, a stream of the night lights flash in reflection. I cannot say I enjoyed my full playthrough especially when trying to speed through filler dialogue to make another attempt at progression but I can’t deny there is something special here. The hangups I have with the character perhaps add texture and substance to the story.

If you’d like to try Bird of Passage it’s available on Itch.io.

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