Most games these days pride themselves on featuring action-packed, high-octane scenes of chaos and destruction. But it’s best not to forget that there are a few out there that are quite the opposite and instead go for offering serene, relaxing experiences. That’s exactly what indie studio Samurai Punk was going for with its new title Feather, which is literally all about you taking control of a bird and flying around an island environment.
The flight mechanics of Feather are a lot more fluid and responsive than what I had been anticipating. While the option to use gyro controls is available, I definitely prefer the regular analog controls. Your bird is extremely versatile and agile, and it can perform barrel rolls, split-second flips, and can even dive into the water all with no effort. This makes navigating the open island environment of Feather very fun and smooth. It really does capture the sensation of being an actual bird, as you’re able to sail through tree branches and tight rock formations with relative ease.
As a result, Feather does a great job at achieving its objective of delivering a relaxing gaming experience. The gameplay is accompanied by a melodious atmospheric soundtrack that contains a handful of piano-based songs that can be changed by flying through what I call “song gates” that are dotted around the map. Each of the songs is equally beautiful in my book, so I never got tired of listening to them. On top of this, the stylized visuals really bring the presentation together as the game uses a very bright and vivid color palette that matches its overall artistic tone. This is especially emphasized by the day/night cycle that’s present, making for some seriously gorgeous sunsets and sunrises.
Now then, all I’ve said about Feather up to this point has been pretty positive. I do honestly enjoy the game, but realistically, its content is as light as a feather. What I said in my opening statement is true: Feather literally is all about flying around.
There are no missions or objectives, no challenges, nothing aside from the environment to explore. It’s an open-world game with only free roaming. On paper that doesn’t sound too bad, but the game’s mechanics are too good for something so simple. As fun as it is to fly around, as soon as I realized that’s all there is to this game I was disappointed. There’s a huge amount of potential here that could have been easily fleshed out with simple things like obstacle courses, time trials, target challenges, and the like. The one bit of depth to Feather is that the island has a lot of hidden areas that are a joy to find, but once you’ve seen them, then the magic is lost.
With there being so little content, Feather comes off as feeling like some cool little tech demo that the studio decided was good enough to be quickly turned into a full game. Optimization for the Switch doesn’t even seem to have been handled properly, as the game’s unlocked frame rate regularly hovers around the high 20s. While it’s playable, it certainly isn’t as visually smooth as it could be.
If you want a mindless game that will give you an opportunity to just get lost in thought as you move the thumbsticks of your Joy-Con around without much care, then Feather is pretty decent. But something this low on content gets stale pretty quickly, despite its beauty.
A review code was provided by the publisher.