Bird Alone review
App Reviewed on: iPhone XR
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Bird Alone may have come out almost a month ago at this point, but it's taken me that long to get through it. This isn't because I was having a hard time with it or it's super long or anything. It's more because Bird Alone operates along a real time schedule. This game has you form a relationship with a bird who chats you up once or twice a day, and the life and energy this bird companion can bring through a small screen made me look forward to each and every interaction with it.
In my playthrough of Bird Alone, I named by bird Jerry. Jerry is an inquisitive and supportive fellow who likes pondering philisophical questions and art. I don't believe this personality changes depending on how you play, so you can expect a similar companion if you decide to pick up Bird Alone.
Jerry doesn't always want to talk to you. Sometimes he needs his rest, but one or two times a day, you might get a push notification because he wants to collaborate on a poem with you, create a song, have you draw for him. Along the way he'll ask questions about how your day is going, how you feel about mistakes in your past, your thoughts on death, and all sorts of other, deep questions that you generally choose one of two preset responses to.
Bird Alone doesn't have any explicit goals, per se. You just open the app when your bird wants to chat and just see what happens. As you keep checking in, though, things definitely evolve and change, and there's a slight throughline between all of your interactions that builds to a narrative conclusion of sorts.
If you're familiar with any of George Batchelor's previous games, this kind of structure shouldn't be surprising. Far From Noise and Hot Date are both similar titles in that they're focused around dialogue, have a slow pace, and don't necessarily feel like conventional games. I can definitely see how this style could be off-putting, and I'm not sure that Bird Alone--despite being more game-like than his previous titles--will change your mind on games like this.
Despite only interacting with Jerry over the course of a couple minutes across my day, I found myself growing quite attached to him. The writing in Bird Alone is strong and charming enough that your small chats feel genuine and real, and I spent time wondering what he was thinking about or processing between our chats.
That said, there was a period while playing Bird Alone that I felt stuck in a routine. By the time I worked on my fourth or fifth drawing or poem, I was wondering if the game just progressed in this fashion ad infinitum. Luckily, it's around that time that Bird Alone moves toward its conclusion, which creates a sense of satisfying closure to the whole experience.
The bottom line
Bird Alone isn't your typical game experience, and this makes it a bit of an acquired taste. It's also what makes it special, though. Chatting with a bird on and off over time is remarkably endearing thanks to some clever writing. Although you might not spend a whole lot of time "playing" it, Bird Alone is still well worth your time.