Since launch PSVR has been a platform full of experiences and a lot of them either off the wall or surprisingly original. Falcon Age probably sits in those two camps with a 20/80 split.
A brave new single player experience from Outerloop Games, a Seattle based Indie company with a pretty tight team roster. It shows in the way the game has been crafted, it is gloriously laced with care and attention, it is deep without being complex and does exactly what it needs to. Built from the ground up as a VR title the game is a sci-fi adventure in the shoes of Ara, a young girl imprisoned by some temperamental robots on a barren Tatooine-esque looking planet. Pretty straightforward then, the first few game days get you into the control scheme nicely by running some prison day-to-day routines and forcing you to converse with one of your captors. Some of the humour, writing and art style here start to feel like a nod toward Portal and that’s okay.
The routine is shattered pretty soon with the arrival of an infant Falcon in your cell, you get a few days of feeding it, training it and taking it outside to learn basic controls, then you are off. This is where the game kicks into gear properly and before long you are traversing the open world, sending your bird off to collect ingredients, hunt rabbits and rattle more robots before you smash them.
Soon enough the bird grows up to a fierce adult version of itself and the narrative picks up some pace with more danger, which you can handle pretty well mainly because the controls have been implemented really nicely and the bird AI is rather intuitive. Before long you will be directing the falcon without thinking about it and when you do think about it you will realise all this nurturing has grown some practical bond where its easier to get the bird to do something instead of you.
The game feels quiet and the action while not overly taxing can sometimes propose a challenge if you approach it out of sequence. There is also plenty of other cool stuff going on, the dialogue menus are lovely, making use of PSVR they roll around the options in front of you, then there are menus to learn and recipes to craft as you feed your bird up with skill buffing concoctions. Not forgetting a bunch of collectible dress-up items that will add some other skill buffs to your bird, but being a purist I don’t see value in a fighting falcon wearing a monocle. My personal favourite and personally overused feature is the ability to get variety of fist-bumps from the Falcon. I say ‘the Falcon’ because you will be naming your own, let’s keep it impersonal for now.
The setting is a real mix and probably speaks more to personal favourites or experience from the Dev Team, as I mentioned the landscape has a distinct feel with desert giving way to greener valleys, but the humans of the piece that are living spread out have a very Aztec / Inca vibe, whereas the enemies of the story are clunky automaton. It’s a setting that serves the purpose of the story, but feels light on structure, which isn’t that big a deal when you remember this is a game, in VR where you can fist-bump your Falcon before sending it off to rip up a rabbit or harass a robot.
It is also a very peaceful game, even though there is combat, unless you take on the Imprint Mode which will remove combat encounters, traversing the terrain to the cries of your bird is a relaxing option compared to a lot of VR experiences.
Extra points to the designer of the unique Save Game routine, pumping water from a well for your bird to drink at does not get old.