As soon as I saw the initial reveal for Falcon Age I knew it would be something I would want to play. I love VR games, I have a guilty pleasure for farming in video games and love looking after virtual animals. This is surely a match made in heaven, right? The initial reveal not only showed those elements but also elements of combat, exploration and even outfits and toys for your little falcon friend. Let's get our claws stuck into the review then shall we?
You play as Ara, you wake up in some sort of facility and soon realise that you are under the control of service androids and are doing their monotonous bidding. Early on you are just gathering nearby minerals and trying to get by day to day. Before you know it you have befriended a cute baby falcon, for reasons I will not spoil and are thrust into a quest to take back your world and work out what happened.
Falcon Age can be played in both VR and on your normal TV screen. For the sake of this review I tried both and can report that the normal TV experience is nowhere near as good as the VR version. In fact, I would go as far as saying that the only way to play this game is in VR. I only played the normal version for an hour or so but could not wait to don my headset and return to the virtual reality version. The immersion and falconry felt so much more tactile and real in VR and playing on a controller failed in comparison.
The VR options were plentiful and well thought out. You could use teleportation or motion as your preferred movement method. I much preferred full motion but I have played a lot of VR and some people who are affected by motion sickness will prefer teleportation. I just found it too slow and fiddly. You can set the speed of your motion, your turn speed and even select between snap turns or smooth turning. All the options are there to make your VR experience as accessible as you want it. The developers did a good job and the VR implementation was flawless.
Right, onto the star of the show, your little adopted falcon. Most of the game involves you giving instructions to your falcon and helping them grow. Becoming a team to together and trying to stop the advancing robot menace. Your falcon can grab items, help you with combat, hunt and even help you with farming. The whole experience with the little fella is mind-blowing. I found myself really getting attached to him and really caring about what he was going through. The developers did a great job bringing out his personality through his animations and expressions.
You can perform a lot of silly gestures with your falcon and it's very entertaining. From fist bumps to handshakes, dancing to juggling, the falcon part of the game is handled very well and I thoroughly enjoyed it. You unlock new outfits, armour and toys as you progress through the game and it was always a joy to see a new trick my new friend could do. See him in some new fancy outfit I had bought with my hard earned currency or watch him learn a new ability via some new armour I had purchased.
Commanding your falcon, especially in VR, is an absolute blast. You call it to you by pressing a trigger on your Move controller and raising it to your face and whistling. It felt great and worked flawlessly. Your little feathered friend would then descend to your hand and await further instruction. You just point at objects with your Move controller and press the trigger and you falcon would do whatever action associated with that item is. He would attack, fetch, plant or even hunt. The whole system is simple and never failed to work once. There are other manoeuvres to try also, like instead of having the falcon return to you with an item you can get him to drop it in mid-air. You can try to catch it or if you close enough it just goes straight into your pouch automatically.
You have other tools to use on your mission too. On the left of your belt is your combat tool, an electrified baton to whack your foes with. On the right side of your belt is your pouch, which when you're close enough to collectable resources they jump into it automatically. Otherwise, just hover over it with your hand, it opens and you can drop your various resources into it. If you want to retrieve something from it you can either put your hand in or open the menu with the associated button. It all works well and never needs thinking about.
Combat wise, Falcon Age is simple but serviceable. I do wish the combat had a bit more depth to it but it was fun all the same. You have different enemies that require different methods to vanquish, some just need to be struck with your baton, some needed the help of your falcon to eradicate. Your falcon could attack, stun, distract or even carry enemies for you and allow you to get some strikes in and finish them off. It was very funny seeing your little friend fly off with robot parts and swoop in during combat. I feel I built up a real rapport with him and we became a real team.
Your falcon is not invincible at all. He needs constant looking after and you need to make sure you always have some food in your pouch for those moments when he has taken a bit of damage. You can craft food from various fruit and meat you have collected from hunting and gathering. You unlock new recipes by finding recipe cards littered through the world. These craftable meals have different stat buffs and recover your falcon's health over time. You can recover a small amount of health by stroking your falcon but it's by no means optimal. I made sure I always have a few treats in your possession, just in case you get into a pinch.
The dialogue system in this game is a weird one, you have options to pick in conversations but I felt it made no difference what I picked. The way to select your answer is very well designed though, you rotate your move controller to select your answer and it's very well implemented. I just wished my choices meant more in the overall story of the game, unfortunately, they just felt like hollow decisions with no weight at all.
The art style and graphical design in Falcon Age are amazing, the team did a really good job of modelling the falcon and its different animations. It's feathers move as you stroke it, it moves naturally and I always felt it was an actual falcon and not a bunch of programmed code flying around. The world is rendered well, the colours were bright and all the lines very clear. The whole visual design of this title was top notch, sometimes VR games can take a hit in this department but I thought Falcon Age, graphically, was superb.
Sound-wise Falcon Age was also very good, a soothing soundtrack for a chilled out, relaxing game. The music and sounds were all very believable and did their job to keep me immersed in my VR experience. Whistling and hearing the squawk of my new friend was always pleasing and the sound design all worked well. The only thing I did not like was the voice acting, it was that sort of voice acting where the characters would only say part of what they were saying and it got repetitive at times. Luckily there is not too much dialogue so this was not a big issue but it did get slightly annoying at times.
Right, on to the performance bit, everyone knows that I do love a little rant about how a game performs at the end of my reviews. Apart from a few times where my character would get stuck in invisible rocks and sometimes fail to do what I wanted her to do, the game performed very well. I had zero crashes, no stuttering and no game breaking bugs. I do think my in-game compass went a bit mad a few times but that was nothing to get upset about. The VR implementation was flawless, there's nothing worse in VR game when things don't work properly. The whole VR experience then becomes tedious and irksome. Luckily this was not the case here, the VR part of it was well designed and a joy to play through.