Thanks to Samurai Punk for the review code
System: Nintendo Switch (eShop)
Release Date: 04/05/2019
Feather uses a look that reminds me a lot of Chasing Aurora, another bird-themed game that I really enjoyed back in the Wii U era, only this game’s in a 3D perspective. The shading gets the job done well and everything looks easy on the eyes, which helps compliment the game’s intent at being a relaxing game. There’s not much in terms of hazards or really anything that could startle the player, so for a casual experience this game does a fine job.
However, not everything is so hot with the visuals, as this game just absolutely shreds itself to pieces when we look at the framerate, especially in handheld mode. You see, while Feather looks fine on both displays, there’s a drastic difference in how the game actually runs. On docked, I had a pretty decent experience adjusting the camera angles as I see fit, and everything ran relatively smoothly despite some textures changing here and there.
Meanwhile in handheld, I’d argue this game’s practically unplayable, as merely looking at anything on screen will cause the framerate to tank to near slide-show levels of slowdown. Trying to tilt the camera to give the game an overhead look while playing this way just causes the framerate to go insane, which is absolutely inexcusable considering how it runs perfectly fine while docked. At the very least, the music is decent, even if it’s also incredibly generic.
Feather is a flight sim where you take control of a bird and soar around an island, going anywhere you feel like to explore to your hearts content. I already explained the entirety of this game in that single line, and unfortunately the simplicity doesn’t really lead to anything interesting.
So the main point of this game is really just to fly around, goof off and relax, which seems to work pretty well at first since the game has tight controls and customizable options that help make things easier to adjust to if you so need it. If you see a cool pillar of rocks in the distance, you can go there! If you see a tunnel that you want to fly through, you can do that as well, and if you see a ring on a pedestal, flying through it will change the background music.
Sadly, there’s absolutely nothing else to really make note of here, and while I usually have no problems with relaxation games, the one thing they all should have in common is some form of engagement to help me come back to it time and time again, enough that I’ll gladly pull it out for a few minutes on a car ride to destress. Except here Feather has no engagement, since nothing you do is really cataloged at all. All those rings you find? They aren’t part of a collection like in Pilotwings Resort’s free flight mode, so they’re just there as a thing to stumble across. Finding a cool tunnel or seeing the beautiful sky? Nifty, but it doesn’t hold any value at all.
The worst part of this game comes from how as a seemingly perfect handheld destress experience, it absolutely fails that in every regard due to the horrid framerate in Handheld mode. I don’t know why the game chugs and becomes a slideshow whenever I tilt the camera in an overhead view, or come into any area with trees or mountains, but the fact that the framerate goes up and down and up again, constantly in this mode just makes playing this more of a headache than relaxing. It’s really depressing too, as I wanted to get a kick out of flying around the island, but as soon as the framerate tanked I put it in my dock in order to explore enough in hopes of finding anything that would increase my optimism.
There’s apparently an online function where other birds will fly up to you as you explore, but playing this thing online for a good 15 minutes and seeing nobody in sight just makes me feel empty. I honestly thought to myself that if this game had some form of cooperative play, where two birds could just goof off on an island together, that would lead to this being an excellent method of hanging out with a buddy. But as a solo game, Feather’s as basic as it gets, and I honestly couldn’t take it for much longer.
Feather could have easily been a great relaxation game to unwind with, if it had an even remote sense of content to mess around with. But with nothing of significance to find, abysmal framerate drops (despite this game being out for months, this was never fixed in handheld mode for some baffling reason) and a boring world that you can pretty much see everything of in mere minutes, this bird sim is a really sad example of a great idea with bad execution, both in performance and scope.
I feel that if there was at least local co-op to mess around with and especially if the FPS was fixed for portable play, this would be a far better flight sim, but as of now, I cannot recommend you pick this up, especially on Switch with the awful framerate issues that make this pretty unbearable to play in handheld mode, and the stupidly high price for a game so lacking. It’s upsetting, since the foundation is solid and the controls are excellent, but Feather just doesn’t work out as there’s just no game here, and it fails as a relaxation tool.
I give Feather a 3 out of 10.