Of Bird & Cage is a very unique approach to gaming. Of Bird & Cage features an album told in a musical style fashion with an intriguing dark story. The game is presented through three acts and has a variety of different elements to the gameplay for each one. Of Bird & Cage presents very dark issues that some readers may find difficult to read about. This is a friendly and understanding disclaimer highlighting that addiction, domestic abuse, sexual assault, and other uncomfortable issues will be discussed in this article. If you find yourself unable to read on, that’s perfectly okay. Please do what’s right for you and bare in mind of those issues if you choose to play the game. Additionally, this article will discuss in-depth the story of the game and there will be spoilers some minor and some that players may find revealing to the story.
Musical Story Telling
Of Bird & Cage is a two-hour-long narrative musical experience from Capricia productions. It allows the player to experience a different type of storytelling instead of solely dialogue. Read on to find out what VIBE has scored Of Bird & Cage.
The story starts off with a young girl named Gitta who is from a very hostile environment. Gitta notes that her father domestically abuses her mother and that she is terrified of him. The prologue sets the scene by giving us an insight into Gitta’s life. As pictured below, Gitta has a lovely warm childhood home to which her mother contributes to. Gitta’s mother is seen playing with the player in the first scenes of the game.
However, the peace and tranquility are shattered when her father bursts into the room and begins arguing with Gitta’s mother. This is the first time the player can choose to intervene and help her mother or avoid getting involved. This sets the tone for the rest of the game and reminds players that they will be asked to make decisions that will affect gameplay in later areas of the game.
Fast forward to her adult years and Gitta is presented with nothing short of a “shit” life. Gitta works in a diner earning next to no wages for a creepy boss, is in the depth throws of addiction, and aspires to be a singer but no one will give her a chance. Gitta’s story really does begin here as the game takes you through her addiction, relationships, and choices.
When I first started playing Of Bird & Cage, I didn’t really grasp how the story would play out. Each player forges their own story and this is very clear from some of the story decisions. I choose to be a psychopathic killer teaming up with the man who abducted me. Additionally, I made sure my character sought vengeance in regards to all who had done her dirty in the story. Other players may choose to go down a more peaceful route.
Dealing With An Insanity and Addiction Meter
Gitta is addicted to a drug called GSBV. The game concludes that Gitta must take GSBV regularly otherwise her view of reality becomes highly distorted. The players’ field of view is filled with scribbles of thoughts, fire in random places causing no access, and flashbacks of trauma. GSBV can be found around the game regularly and players must decide whether or not to continue to fuel the addiction or go “cold turkey”.
As a result of this, there is a way to calm down the player without resorting to GSBV. Birds are dotted around the world, usually drawn on walls. If the player interacts with this then their addiction meter stabilizes and their insanity meter reduces. Thus, buying the player sometime before the world is transformed into a distorted view of reality again.
Beat Em up
One feature of the game that surprised me was the combat. Combat is utilized a lot in the game depending on a player’s choices. As pictured above, the player must fill the right side of the combat bar titled Win. The combat involves fists, guns, and sometimes other objects the player picks up. Additionally, it’s the standard aiming via mouse and clicks function to help execute enemies. The player is usually faced with a choice of whether or not they want to fight the person. Personally, I felt the mechanic for the combat was unjust at times. Instead of a health bar, it was a timer. As a result of this, the timer often ran out too quickly before any substantial damage or progress could be made.
Atmospheric Art Style
The choice to run the game on Unreal Engine 4 was a good and robust choice. It ensured that the game could present decently in 3D without the expense of using a pricier engine. As a result of this, the graphics were well-rounded and suitable for an indie game. The character designs matched the characters, especially that of the dark and brooding complex character Bres Lupus.
Whenever the player was tasked with exploring the memories and trauma of Gitta, they were transformed to crossroads or what can only be described as a fever dream experience. Paired with the soundtrack it really enhanced the gaming experience.
Unique Musical Experience
All throughout the game, there were scenes where the characters sang to one another. Most songs were related to the events in the games and the thoughts of the characters. Bres Lupus and Gitta’s interactions were emotionally charged when they were singing to one another. Thus, enhancing the emotionally charged pieces of the story. For any fan of music and video games, Of Bird & Cage is a perfect experience to try out.
All throughout this tale, the game featured several bird logos and bird cages. The symbolism of a bird being caged and set free was increasingly prevalent throughout the story. Gitta’s life was extremely tragic and in my playthrough, I attempted everything to improve it and set the bird (Gitta) free. It was a nice nod to the soundtrack and the premise of trapped birds to freedom throughout the game.
Some of the characters within the story were downright loathsome. The men in Gitta’s life were portrayed as murderers, rapists & criminals. It is hard for the player not to dislike them and root for Gitta at every opportunity. It was difficult at times to watch some scenes due to the sensitive and quite graphic nature of their behavior. Pictured above is a prime example. Gitta’s father is known to be abusive. However, finding out he was a murderer exceeded all expectations of her father. There are plenty more dark and disturbing moments like this one. Personally, I have always been drawn to games with that subject matter but I found myself absolutely loathing these characters.
The decision-making aspect of the game was very reminiscent of games like Life Is Strange. However, some of the decisions came out of the left-field with absolutely no explanation. The player must make these harsh decisions and take heed that they may affect the outcome of Gitta’s story. However, the player does have the chance to basically play God. Most choices outright ask whether you should go down the dark side of murder, criminality, and thievery or simply be stuck in the vicious cycle you are in. The decisions will have the player gripping to the story and wondering if they had made the right choice.
The story is increasingly short and only lasts for two hours. In short, it feels like the story is jammed together and happening so fast that some of the more complex decisions are harder to process. Additionally, the timer for decisions and collecting items for the decision is very short. This results in players often not being able to make the choice they want and having their outcomes altered.
Living Up To Expectations
The developers for Of Bird & Cage set out to make a unique and exemplary gaming experience. If executed correctly this could be attributed to a brand new and intriguing genre and way to create games. However, it presented with rushed storytelling, confusing gameplay, and issues with time limits. As a result of this, Of Bird & Cage fell short of the expectations set out.
It’s important to note that the story if slowed down could have been an enriching tale, especially with its twist and turns and if allowed to play without such unnecessary time limits, players may have grasped the gameplay better.
As always massive thanks to Capricia Productions for this intriguing game. Thank you to everyone who is still reading my indie reviews on vibe (Check out many more!) Of Bird & Cage can be purchased on Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/523770/Of_Bird_and_Cage/ and a trailer can be found below.
26, Indie Game connoisseur. Also a hamster mum, fiancée & working in the addiction field. Gaming and writing are my escape and comfort for when the world gets too much!