Aviary Attorney PC Review
Set in the 19th Century, Aviary Attorney is a game very much influenced by the longstanding, more modernday, Phoenix Wright series. If this game piques your interest there is a good chance youve spent some solid time in the past sleuthing away the hours in Capcom’s much loved adventures. Whilst the pair certainly do share a lot of DNA, enough to be close relatives, the good news is that Aviary Attorney is not just a lackadaisical copy. It continually tries to be its own thing instead of trodding a safe well worn path. Sketchy Logic look to add their own brand of wit to the mix at almost every turn.
Let’s start with the important stuff. I like games that use the word derrière, and Aviary Attorney does not mess about, getting it out of the way within the first five minutes. That has to be seen as a plus point. Speaking of plus points, there is even some French accordion music on show. Extra points for accordions always! This game is certinly off to a great start.
Our introduction to Aviary Attorney is via a bird called Sparrowson. We soon learn that Sparrowson thinks with his stomach. He is not a very suave individual though. Sparrowson’s friend, business acquaintance, and all round chum is JayJay Falcon. Jayjay Falcon, the game’s main character, is a lawyer who has not had the opportunity to tackle a serious case in months. He is in dire straits, and starts the game with only 2 francs in his wallet. There is a running joke, one of the many on show throughout the game, that everyone thinks the duo are police officers. I will let this pass – law is always confusing. They also think America is a bit of a weird place. They are probably right.
Together the duo, who are far too uppity individuals for their own good, form the titular Aviary Attorney Detective Agency. The two can appear a bit buffoonery at times, but they know how to say the right thing at the right time to get the job done. Aviary Attorney is not just a haven for avians, as all members of the animal kingdom are along for the ride. Players will meet talkative rabbits, cats, lions (which I guess are just big cats…), and an exceedingly tall giraffe over the course of their first hour with the game. Amphibians are here too, with a dead frog at the unwilling center of the first case. Poor thing.
What really ties Aviary Attorney together is its writing, which is at all times clever. Amazing one liners like ”what in Bird-Jesus’ name was that?” come quick and fast. They make an early “wing it” joke too. They really went there. Send help. Social media is not safe either with the cast preemptively making fun of it before it was ever invented. I guess you could class the humor as somewhat spoof-like at times, but it always comes across as good natured. More important than that is the fact the jokes work. Comedy can be a hard thing to get right at the best of times, and the task is made even more challenging with interactive media. If you feel someone is trying too hard, forcing things, and fishing for laughs, it can ruin the whole effect. Aviary Attorney almost always lands on the right side of the fence in this regard with its pun based jokes.
Gameplay is split into two distinct parts. You are either fishing for clues and information, or putting your findings to work to prove a point. Whilst on the search for clues the game feels very open ended. You’re free to go to a set number of locations to start your snooping. Player choice – albeit limited choice – is on show in the locations as well. You can choose from a list of single phrase questions you want to ask, and at what time you want to pose them. There are times a few more options arise. You can choose to give some money to a starving child… or not. You can also opt to keep secrets you learn from certain characters… or narc on them. The game most certainly leads players down certain paths to help aide them in their adventure, but it never seems to force a choice upon them. All of these options give the game a welcome open ended feeling. It may only be an illusion of choice, but it sufficiently does its job.
The real meat on the bone of this game is the scenes in court, which is what all the cases ultimately build towards. With court in session you get to listen to evidence and are allowed to cross examine key witnesses to find flaws in their testimony. This is done by highlighting key phrases in their statements and pressing them further on the details until more interesting information comes to light. Of course, you could quite easily miserably fail in your attempts, and make the judge in attendance mad and lose some favour with the jury. If you manage to get your line of questioning correct, and find the right evidence to back up your statements, you can get the judge and jury back on your side and see them hum and caw in agreement. The game’s clever writing is once again highlighted during these moments, with all in attendance chatting back and forth as court is in session.
These moments always feel very much alive with the camera darting and panning back and forth between various individuals. As the scene rises to its crescendo you see JayJay Falcon explain both his and your findings, putting the jigsaw of information together. Then the music kicks into high gear and cymbals clash. Even the blind can see the pieces all fit. Everyone is shocked and the true culprit is spitefully angry. Even the prosecutor starts to stumble over their words. The camera zooms in. The world comes crashing down around everyone else. Falcon and Sparrowson stand tall in victory. It feels great!
Aviary Attorney is a really snazzy well put together game. Even the map screen, which could quite easily be a static image, has clouds blowing over it, a light gust hollowing, and the caw of crows far off into the distance. Can these crows talk? These little layers of added personality continue as the game goes. When you visit a prison very early in the game, you can hear doors creaking, guards moving, and soft murmurs away into the distance. These are all only little extras, but they all help bring a game where exchanges are wholly text based to life. For what could be classed as a simple text based adventure there is always a lively feel to proceedings. No screen in the game is truly static. The characters move around and hop about to position themselves before they talk, and when they hit their mark they will keep blinking to add some spice. The blinking is weirdly meditative and strangely hypnotic. It’s hard to look away.
The one downside to mention would be length. The game offers four acts to work through and each of these are their own separate case. However, the first of these is very much a tutorial case, and is very simplified. There is even a herring item to pick up that is coloured red. The three following cases do however add a bit more scope. Thankfully, even when the game is at its most basic the writing is compelling enough to keep things interesting. Even though the adventure can be over in about 5 hours, the hours felt sufficiently packed with content to be a worthwhile experience. Over the runtime there is some solid character development for our two hatchling heroes. Falcon has some life issues holding him back you might not initially expect. The scene that ties the first two cases together shows that Sketchy Logic are not afraid to take Aviary Attorney‘s narrative serious when they need to – but even these moments have some added humour too.
Aviary Attorney could’ve quite easily been a birdbrained game built solely to ruffled some of Capcom’s feathers. However it quickly becomes clear that JayJay and friends have more than enough smarts to even outwit Capcom’s much loved attorney at some turns. It is most certinly worth chicken out. It really is a hoot and it quacks me up. Sorry, it seems this game’s puns are getting contagious. This is getting hawkward. Aviary day it’s a-gettin’ closer. Goin’ faster than a rollercoaster. Birds like yours will surely come my way. A-hey, a-hey-hey.