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free bird.

by Passerine profile

Puzzle
2023

Web Site

(based on 16 ratings)
6 reviews

About the Story

A minimalist hopepunk avian escape game written for SeedComp! 2023.

Seeds used:
Feathered Fury by Amanda Walker
Room; Closed Door by Charm Cochran

This story includes mild descriptions of animal neglect and mistreatment, followed by healing and recovery.


Game Details


Awards

1st Place, Best Overall; 1st Place, Best Seed Hybridization; Entrant, All Games - SeedComp! - 2023

1st Place, Best Use of Short Form; 2nd Place, Best Puzzle-Focused Game; 1st Place (tie), Best in Show - The IF Short Games Showcase 2023

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Member Reviews

5 star:
(6)
4 star:
(10)
3 star:
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Average Rating:
Number of Reviews: 6
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Most Helpful Member Reviews


6 of 6 people found the following review helpful:
Clever bird. Animal praxis., March 2, 2023
by OverThinking
Related reviews: SeedComp, SeedComp 2023

Full disclosure: this game did use my seed “Room; Closed Door,” which challenged authors to create a room escape game using only nouns and adjectives—no verbs. free bird. combines it with another room escape seed: “Feathered Fury” by Amanda Walker, which instructed authors to write a game where you play as a bird of paradise trying to escape from the hideout of a group of poachers. This combo didn’t even enter my mind as I perused the seeds, but this game combines the two with impressive synergy. Each passage is a series of adjective-noun pairs, mostly disconnected from each other to communicate our feathered protagonist’s individual isolated impressions. This immediately puts us in the bird’s headspace both in terms of cognition and confusion, as it’s hard to extrapolate much past the limited information we get.

Still, the protagonist manages to display a good bit of personality. When we look in a mirror early in the game, it describes itself as “handsome macaw.” It has both a good deal of empathy and of pragmatism, able to recognize other animals’ plights and wanting to help even in the narration outside of the player’s choices. It can also pick one thing up at a time in its beak to use as a tool, which makes for some interesting puzzles. I will admit there was one point towards the end where I felt a little stuck, but exploring further revealed sufficient cluing that I’d missed.

The author has described free bird. as “hopepunk,” and I think that’s a perfect descriptor for a story that grows to depict a communal effort to seek freedom, make positive change, and enact radical kindness. I think we could all use a bit of that—even those of us who can’t fly.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Approachable with a unique game mechanic, January 3, 2024

I played free bird. as part of the IF Short Games Showcase 2023. The end punctuation and lower case are mandatory and throughout the game, like if bell hooks took over Yahoo!

I really enjoyed it. It’s both approachable and unique.

The core game mechanic

There are a lot of approaches to making a Twine game, from CYOA-style stories to object-based adventure games. While some Twine games try to imitate parser-style verbs and actions, Twine games usually present the player with a list of options, which means that the player doesn’t really get the illusion of acting spontaneously like they would in a parser game.

In free bird. there are no verbs at all, only adjectives and nouns. So you need to think about the properties of things — which are in a way an abstraction of the actions that might involve the object in question. The fact that the (Spoiler - click to show)monkey could turn a doorknob is where this system really came together and felt intuitive for me.

Because this game was part of Seed Comp, this system is thanks to to a concept called “Room; Closed Door” by Charm Cochran rather than the author. However, the author passerine decided exactly how this should work – you could use the concept to make a more mazelike game with fewer moving parts – so the author deserves part of the credit too.

The story

The bird escape concept is from “Feathered Fury” by Amanda Walker. At first I thought Amanda contributed to the game mechanic because it is similar to her (mostly) verbless game What Heart Heart of Ghost Guessed, but that’s not the case.

The story is minimal, but it works. I didn’t read closely enough to fully get the original scenario. From other reviews I can see that the bird was trying to escape from poachers specifically as opposed to a zoo or pet store.

I can’t tell how much of the story is from Amanda versus from passerine, since the “Feathered Fury” seed is now deleted. In any case, the game gets the tone across well by portraying the human character as sinister and by portraying the bird’s desire to escape.

Design

The game has a minimal but nice design. The yellow-on-blue background uses slightly uncommon colours and has a nice logo, so it’s distinctive.

The square frame is nice too (very artsy, it looks like the sort of thing that would go in an art museum) but it is a big bigger than my browser height. Fortunately there is a pop-out button and download option that fixes this.

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
A minimalist bird escape adventure, May 17, 2023
by MathBrush
Related reviews: 15-30 minutes

This game has you play as a clever bird, a macaw, who is trapped in a cage by a kind of illegal exotic animal dealer and has to escape.

All of this is communicated through minimalistic text that primarily uses adjectives and nouns instead of complete sentences. For instance, examining a bird early on gives the response:

sunken eyes. dry skin. depleted energy.

loose perch.

With the loose perch being a clickable link.

The overall style of gameplay is similar to a single-item-inventory text adventure. You get to pick one thing at a time to hold and can use that item in conjunction with items in the game's world.

This allows for some complex interactions that can be fun to set up.

I encountered a bizarre problem on my end while playing (no other player has found this problem and it wasn't on mobile, so I don't think it's the author's fault) where the game had a missing passage or encountered some other problem where I had to hard restart, about 4 or 5 different times. If anyone else encounters this, switching the platform I was on fixed it immediately (from windows chrome to phone).

Overall, the game is very polished and descriptive. I found the interactivity was interesting, and I could see myself visiting this again.

I didn't feel completely immersed in the game, and found it more of a puzzle box than a bird adventure. But I wonder if I hadn't encountered a bug on my end if I would have been drawn in more. So I'm wavering between a 4 and a 5, but I think I'll go with a 4, because while this game was good, I found the author's other games the Good Ghost and Closure even better, by a significant amount, due to their authentic and engaging dialogue.

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See All 6 Member Reviews

free bird. on IFDB

Recommended Lists

free bird. appears in the following Recommended Lists:

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Polls

The following polls include votes for free bird.:

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