Songbird Symphony is the touching story of an orphaned chick who sets out on an adventure to reunite with her real family, discovering a wonderful little rhythm/platformer game along the way. His name is Birb. It’s a good name.
Despite his keen sense of rhythm and fondness for song, Birb’s foster peacock family considers him a freak due to his small size and lack of colorful plumage. All but his clumsy Uncle Pea, who encourages the youngster to embark on a quest to find where he fits in the game’s wacky avian world. With a spring in his step and an endearing bounce from his pixels, Birb travels the world, meets new birds and adds new notes to his rhythm playing repertoire.
Released last week for Switch, PlayStation 4 and Steam, Joysteak Studios Songbird Symphony is part casual platformer, part musical rhythm game. Birb’s world is a 2D side-scrolling adventure with collectibles and small puzzles to solve using his unique musical skills. Singing the right notes can move a floating platform or open a secret door.
As Birb explores, he regularly encounters musical challenges. Fine-feathered friends and foes challenge Birb to increasingly complex tests of rhythmic button-pressing skill. Instead of sticking to a set path or pattern, like the tracks in a game like Guitar Hero, Songbird SymphonyChallenges change in structure and shape with each song. One moment notes rise from the ground to be pressed when they land, the next they fall from the sky or sketch on the screen.
When the game starts, Birb will only have one note to follow. During his quest to discover his heritage, other birds will offer him additional notes. At the end of the match, he juggles six. It’s a great way to add challenge and complexity to a rhythm game.
The most delicious Songbird Symphony is the music. It’s not a hodgepodge of licensed tracks. It’s an original musical in its own right. Each rhythm challenge features lyrics that appear onscreen between sections, encouraging players to sing along with instrumentalized in-game vocals. It’s only a matter of time before the video game music remix community delivers a vocal album based on Birb’s adventures.
I love rhythm games of all kinds, but I love them even more when they strive to be charming and bring something new to the genre. Songbird Symphony is a classic fable told as a musical platforming adventure. And he has Birb. You can’t go wrong with Birb.