About the game:

  • Developer – Outerloop Games
  • Publisher – Outerloop Games
  • Platforms – PS4 and PS VR
  • Release Date – April 9th, 2019
  • Price – $19.99
  • Review Code Provided – Yes

Cute birds and family, what more could one want? Outerloop Games’ first title Falcon Age is out today, should you buy it? Let’s find out with my review! 

Warning: light spoilers are in this review, only up until the first half hour is spoiled. 

There are two modes when you first start. Imprint Mode and Story Mode. Both are the base game, but Imprint Mode just doesn’t have combat while Story Mode does. The Outer Ring Company runs the entire gig. You are a human, where the world is run by robots. They use you as someone who does labor since robots can’t do certain tasks. You’re told that you’re the last person left on this planet, since you failed so many times to pass “reorientation”. You wake up in a prison cell and have these 2 falcons on the outside of the bars. One day one of them attacks the robots around the area, resulting in the bird dying and you have to take care of its baby. One day the robot doing your reorientation bugs out and you can kill it, you then can escape into the world. Once you make your way down a bunch of platforms onto the main ground, you are then trapped in a sandstorm and someone comes up to you and knocks you out. Turns out she got a tracker out of your arm, also this means there’s someone else on the planet with you. Come to find out (to the player) , this lady is your aunt! You also find out that Ara’s father has died. So now you are training to become a falcon hunter. Along the way, your aunt will teach you everything you need to know to master this old family tradition. You then are assigned to clear a refinery, which afterwords allows you to talk to other settlers that will help you plant various fruit plants.

Gameplay is quite simple. L1 makes you whistle so you can call your bird while L2 lets you point at something, alerting your bird to attack an enemy or to land on an item to grab it. R3 allows you to center your camera, which is very helpful when in VR play. Pressing Square while holding the baby falcon will allow you to give it some love, fist bump with ’em, and more which is insanely adorable. Later on, you’ll gain the ability to press R1 with your baton to initiate a lightning bolt attack. There are annoying parts in the world where you walk over say… a rock and it won’t let you hop off the slightest edge which then results in you having to back up and walk around. When your falcon is flying around, it always has a UI marker with a little white triangle looking indicator to let you know where she is at. At various sections in the world, you’ll find these tiny grill-like machines that you can cook food for your falcon. You need her at 50% health to initiate attack so make sure to feed her often. As mentioned above, giving your falcon love by pressing Square will start to heal her up but only when she’s between 1-50%, anything above 51% has to be done via food.

Graphically this game has a beautiful art style, however, there are many downsides. First, is there is no 4K support at all, it’s an insanely pixelated game. Then you move onto the world. It’s very barren, looking over a cliff makes you see basically nothing. This makes me believe this was a PS VR game first then translated into a normal format. Finally, there are pop-ins far too often for a game that is in such a small world that isn’t too graphically demanding. On PS4 Pro this shouldn’t be an issue at all but the game isn’t optimized for this mid-generation refresh. Character models and especially the falcon are details in such a nice fashion that it ties everything together neatly.

For audio tracks, you’re greeted to basically just 2 overall music samples. A general… tune, that just loops over and over until you get into a battle, which then toggles the secondary track which is once again just looped until you beat all the enemies. So not much variety in that department so when playing the game you might be a little tired of hearing the same tracks as I was. Fortunately, the sound effects sound pretty nice so with a lot of action it can drown out the music tracks. There’s also some sort of VOs, characters usually only say the first line in a sentence then the rest of the text bubble is for you to read which isn’t necessarily favorable in my book. Wish they could’ve done a full VO but it is understandable to why they couldn’t do so.

Moving onto the VR side of things, things start to look up. There’s a grander sense of scale and atmosphere that you just can’t achieve in traditional play. VR is where this game shines, in fact, I am still firmly believing this game should’ve been VR exclusive and didn’t have a base version since it kills the game so much. Anyways, back to how it is, Falcon Age is a joy when having your PS VR headset on. Playing with your falcon is even cuter than it was before and it combat feels just so much more natural compared to before. I do have to note that even in VR, there are slowdowns unfortunately. When going into new areas there will be a few seconds of frame drops which in VR isn’t necessarily acceptable as VR needs a consistent and locked framerate. As for options, this is where Outerloop Games gets everything right. You can enable or disable teleporting if you’re using a DualShock 4, and you can even disable snap turning so looking around with your right analog stick is insanely amazing and you won’t have to have weird points where looking around isn’t seamless.

Customizing your falcon is actually a really appreciated feature. There are armor types like protection for its claws and feet alongside cool costumes you can put on it like a cute doge head, a monocle, and more. Even special items like the sword from Supergiant’s title Transistor was a super neat touch.

As for the length of the game, God Almighty is this thing short. If I recall correctly, it only took me around… maybe 3 hours max to complete this game. That’s not long as well, especially with that ending so abruptly and it being so anticlimactic after teasing something more, it just feels like the game was rushed out rather than having the studio delay the title even more to add what was teased at the end of the game. While this is the studios first outing, this is also a team that is made up of people that have made many games before so this is a little underwhelming. All in all though, given this is also a VR game and not just a full-on traditional title, being a short title isn’t that much of a surprise.

All in all, this is a title that was most likely meant for VR only but made a standard version to appeal to a wider audience. While it’s fun, it just doesn’t adapt well outside of VR. Developers need to learn that certain games, take Astro Bot Rescue Mission, wouldn’t feel right outside of VR and this is one of those titles that are right alongside it. The game also feels rushed in general. As I’ve mentioned before, there’s pop-ins, weird movement over rocks, and more. I even found a full glitched wall that didn’t have any textures on it on the inside but did on the outside. The game would’ve been both better looking and better playable with more time and a proper PS4 Pro patch for non-VR. In the state that I’ve played this game in, even if they do fully fix the bugs, I would only recommend this game if you want to play it in VR. If this game was VR only, it would’ve scored so much higher but that non-VR mode is just dreadful. Hey Outerloop Games, if you’re going to do a sequel, don’t make it for traditional hardware.

5/10

Falcon Age doesn’t live up to expectations unfortunately. There is just too many shortcomings.

Leave a Reply