A known affiliate of the Dark Lord, Stephen takes only a passing interest in the affairs of mortals. A life of extreme slothfulness has fostered in him an obsession with gaming - one which he will spread to the world in a dark tide of game reviews and news blurbs.
The world of birds is not a complex one. As long as one can flap, feed, and understand basic migration patterns, there’s a fighting chance at survival. It follows, then, that most birds are content to roost away their days, looking passively at the world through their beady black eyes as the days go by. There have been instances, however, when those of the avian persuasion have stepped out of the birdhouse and into the pages of history books: Owl of ‘Winnie the Pooh’ fame, a paragon of wisdom. Baby-delivering storks, without whom humanity would never have grown beyond its infancy. Jayjay Falcon, the legendary attorney at law, who played an integral part in the tale of the French Revolution.
It is Jayjay, the renowned lawyer, upon whom we fix our gaze today. His infamous exploits are chronicled in the recently released game Aviary Attorney, a debut title brought to you by fledgling game studio Sketchy Logic Games. After a full playthrough, I now have a visceral understanding of not only the legal side of this historic conflict, but of the animal nature of those that played a part.
Set in 1848, the game follows our feathered protagonist and his assistant, Sparrowson, through several key court cases and the adventures leading up to them. In a tale filled with betrayal and debauchery, Jayjay encounters sly foxes, alluring felines, and attempts to fend off the wolves at the door (both real and metaphorical). As a rabid fan of narrative-driven video gaming, I was immediately drawn to the idea of a bird-headed duo carving a swathe of legal destruction through revolutionary France.
Aviary Attorney is entirely dialogue-based, requiring the you to choose between speech options to navigate the discussions and court cases presented throughout the game. As you progress, you will interrogate suspects, gather evidence from crime scenes, and present your findings to a jury of bestial peers in order to deliver winged justice to wrongdoers – all the while the revolutionary powder keg smolders just outside.
I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the written dialogue from start to finish. Aside from several minor typos, the language is sophisticated and period-appropriate, with exceptions made for wonderfully cringe-inducing puns and veiled pop-culture references (whenever you meet new people, their portrait and a brief description are placed in Jayjay’s “Face Book.” Yep).
Each character has a unique personality, some of them goofy, many quite sinister. From stuttering, uncertain rabbits to cold, malicious wolves, they run the gamut of interesting interactions, which keeps the experience fresh throughout. The verbal sparring upon which Aviary Attorney pivots never feels stale or forced, and each conversation is a new challenge.
The story is not entirely linear, with each different chapter allotting the player a certain amount of days before a court case or key event. Visiting different locations to conduct investigations consumes time, ensuring that you have to choose carefully where you spend each day, lest the big day arrive and find you ill-equipped. The goal is generally to fill your inventory with as much evidence as possible, so that when you are backed into a corner by the prosecutor, you have lots of options to whip out something game-changing and damning to their case. Thus, each section is a race against the clock.
Lending to the unique aesthetic is the strange, fascinating art of 19th century caricaturist J. J. Grandville. His oddly believable animal-headed humans are the centerpiece of this bizarre alternate universe. Without it, this would simply be another dialogue-driven sleuthing game. I have to give it up to Sketchy Logic; as I played through, I thoroughly enjoyed meeting new man-beasts, learning how they operate, and picking them for information. There’s something about grilling a blubbering, hippo-headed shopkeep for information on his candy sales, or arguing with a kingfisher holding a rod and tackle box that insists that you’re marginalizing him by calling him a fisherman that just wouldn’t be the same if the characters were regular people.
The $14.99 price tag is more than worth it for a good few hours of quality bird-brained sleuthing. Sketchy Logic Games has done a commendable job taking a fairly common game style and twisting it into something memorable and unique. If you are a gamer that enjoys a polished story, funny dialogue, and intriguing art, I wholeheartedly suggest you snag a copy of Aviary Attorney.