Anyone that knows me well, knows that I love birds. My apartment is filled with bird plushies, mostly of the Penguin variety. So, when I heard of a new indie game that was a combination of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater and birds, I was extremely excited. This excitement quickly turned into dismay when I dived in to play SkateBIRD.
As the title suggests, your character is a bird that, you guessed it, skates. Set in what seems to be a human’s bedroom, your little feathered friend jumps onto the deck and scoots off to skate around. The bird’s owner has recently started a new job that they seemingly hate and has neglected their own fun of skating. Your mission is to clean up the room by skating around and collecting items and performing tricks to complete tasks. The story is very wholesome. The Bird just wants its human back and they do not like seeing them all depressed and sad.
At first, I was extremely lost. There isn’t much of an introduction to the game and I was fumbling around trying to work out what to do. After some frustration I found another bird standing around that gave me a list of tasks to complete. The controls seemed simple enough. Classic Ollie, Kickflip, Heelflip etc. However, the actual movement around the room was really difficult. The camera doesn’t follow around like you would expect and I had to constantly adjust the angle. The tricks were seemingly too simple, and the game didn’t give me much choice for the skating variations that I was expecting to see.
The music all original low-fi, chill beats and is bird-centric. Meaning, the lyrics that you hear are all about birds and random facts about birds. I found this quite interesting and quite clever, however, the music became a little repetitive over time. The Bird also has a wide variety of fancy clothes that are available right from the start. You can mix and match or just hit the random creation button and select a wild combination of hats, sunglasses and outfits for your feathered character.
As you progress through the game, there are more ‘bird-sized parks’ to unlock. Unfortunately, I was unable to stay engaged enough to continue past the first park of the bedroom. With that said, there sadly is not much I can say about the game that would make me want to recommend it to anyone. It is a fantastic concept, yes, and I love the colourful, thoughtful adorable art style and music behind it. But the controls and the camera function do need a lot of improvement. Given that the development of the game was delayed several times, it is surprising that these issues still existed at release.
As much as I love birds and skateboarding, it is unfortunate that my expectations fell short and I was left disheartened, more so due to the gameplay mechanic rather than the super cute art, wholesome story and clever concept. Although I am glad I did play SkateBIRD, I don’t see myself playing it again. However, if you have access to Xbox Game Pass, give it a go, as you might enjoy it more than I did.
SkateBIRD is out now Nintendo Switch and on Xbox via Xbox Game Pass, PC, Linux and Mac.
A copy of the game was provided for the purpose of this review.