Feather Review: Zen Sim

by David Sanchez June 10, 2019 @ 12:05 am

Reviewed on PlayStation 4

One of my favorite things about being a video game fan since my childhood is witnessing the medium grow and evolve. I’ve seen Mario and Bowser take their feud from the second dimension to the third and back again. I’ve played incredible titles that could easily cost $60 be released for free. And I’ve been able to experience experimental genres that bend the definition of the term “video game.” Feather is one of the latest games to play by its own rules and provide something unique.

To the Sky

Developed by Australian studio Samurai Punk, Feather is a flying simulator — not a flight simulator — where you take on the role of a bird on a small island. There’s no opening cinematic. There are no in-game load times. And the game’s tutorial is a simple list of command prompts that you toggle on and then complete in mere seconds.

There are no objectives in Feather, either. You are left to your own devices the moment you begin playing, which is a design choice made to encourage exploration. It’s not long before you realize that you don’t have a checklist of tasks to complete, but that’s okay, because Feather never pretends to be something it’s not. In fact, the game’s description on Steam is very straightforward.

As you take you flight, you’ll instantly notice ring-shaped gates you can fly through. When I first started playing, I thought I had to fly through a set number of these gates to complete the level and move on. As it turned out, these gates are simply used as tools to change the ambient music that plays as you soar through the scenery.

The Search for Serenity

The island you explore in Feather isn’t very large. This is a bit of a bummer, because the flying in the game feels great. I’ve played other similar art games, and Feather definitely has some of the more precise flying gameplay of the bunch.

Though the map may not be massive, it’s not without its share of secret nooks. You can fly into hollowed out logs, through hidden caves, and between stone structures. It’s cool, and you definitely get a bit of a rush when you reach higher speeds as you zigzag through trees. Oh, and if you collide into something, the game will rewind a few seconds to allow you to continue flying.

Ultimately, that’s what Feather is all about: enjoying seamless flight in a quest for serenity. There are no bells and whistles here — just flight, and nice music, and pretty visuals. This is a game that’s meant to be experienced more so than played.

State of Mind

Obviously, a game like Feather won’t be for everyone. If you’re into art games like Journey, Abzu, and Viridi, among others, give it a look. This is the kind of game you play after a stressful day at your 9 to 5 job, when your boss is being a total jerk, or when you’ve had a long week and you need anywhere between 10 and 30 minutes to meditate and get into a more peaceful state of mind.

It’s great that a game like Feather exists.

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