System: PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, PC (Steam)
Developer: JoySteak Studios
Release Date: July 26, 2019
Genre: Indie, Platformer, Music, Rhythm Game
Official Website: https://www.playstation.com/en-us/games/songbird-symphony-ps4/
Songbird Symphony - Launch Trailer | PS4
Who it Caters to
Songbird Symphony is a title that combines the tried and true formula of the platforming genre, with a splash of rhythm to give players a new experience of platformers. It’s by no means a revolutionary fusion of genres, as we’ve seen these types of games pop up in the past, but Songbird Symphony adds in a nice flavor of its own to create something special. Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or simply out of touch with your rhythm side, Songbird Symphony offers players a fun and heartwarming experience that’s both challenging and rewarding simultaneously.
What to Expect
Not a lot of games try to dive into uncharted territory for fears that their formula may not invoke emotion out of the player, or that it may stir up some sort of controversy. Songbird Symphony, while painting a picture that’s adorable and fun-loving, speaks on issues pertaining to loneliness, abandonment, bullying, and discrimination. These undertones speak volumes and help to actually bring the gameplay to life even more because you have a stronger emotional connection with Birb as you traverse through different worlds in the search for your real parents. Tie that in with clever wordplay and challenging songs to clear and you have a game that stands out on its own, and isn’t afraid of doing so. Songbird Symphony gives puts players in the shoes of an orphaned bird named Birb, who really just wants to know the truth about his past and in doing so, explores a gorgeous pixel art world in order to find clues along the way.
On a visual level, Songbird Symphony really nails it with its stunning pixel art design and simple character art, making the title appealing to just about anyone. You don’t need to be well-versed in anything going on to really find appreciation for the simple animations and clever design ideas that really help to make Songbird Symphony stand out beautifully. From the subtle expressions that Birb makes in his idle stance to the various quirky animations that other characters express, Songbird Symphony really illustrates a lot of emotion not only through its music but through movement as well.
This is perhaps the best selling point of Songbird Symphony since much of its gameplay revolves solely around rhythm, and understanding the pace of each song you encounter. Admittedly, we would’ve loved if the game had provided players with some sort of tutorial of how to properly play rhythm games because it would certainly make things easier down the road. Songs gradually become more difficult as you encounter new species of bird, all of whom have their own unique sound and beat which you must pay close attention to. The music itself is fantastic and seems to draw its inspiration from small stage plays, since every encounter you come across seems to feel similar in that regard. Every bird will perform a quick song of its own before dropping you into an instrumental which has you matching the beat with designated buttons. Of course, those who’ve dabbled with rhythm games in the past will find this ordeal to be satisfying, but as mentioned earlier, a quick rundown of how to play in more detail would surely help with players unfamiliar with the mechanics.
Elaborating more on the earlier paragraph, Songbird Symphony places a lot of attention and care towards making sure each song is strikingly different from the last. This is what makes playing the game so entertaining because you just never know what to expect, and each encounter is like a brand new experience. Each bird has its own personality which seems to compliment the song which you’re about to play, and really helps to prepare you for what’s to come. Another really intriguing aspect about Songbird Symphony is how music plays a major role in every interaction you have with other characters and platforms, an example being chirping to get the attention of someone or chirping in order to open a new path along the way.
With each new path you unlock brings forth new opportunities to gather notes that you’ll need to collect in order for the Owl to assist you on your personal journey. Each note can be collected through battles with different creatures and are what add new rhythm elements to each song as you progress further into the game. Speaking of progression, Birb himself is a truly interesting character since he demonstrates just how powerful one can be if you truly believe in yourself in spite of the hardships you’ve faced. Going back to the topic we brought up earlier which spoke of the issues pertaining to bullying and loneliness, Songbird Symphony does a brilliant job of bringing attention to the fact that we all go through this at some point in our lives.
Birb shows us that, in spite of the negative encounters we have with others, we shouldn’t let that stop us from becoming greater versions of ourselves and to seek out our goals. Birb is an orphan and so the other birds around him never fully accepted him, and often times spoke ill of him behind his back. The gameplay does a beautiful job of illustrating Birb’s personal journey with the help of new friends that he makes along the way and adding a charming element of music to really bring it all together nicely.
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
It’s not easy to create a game that tries to speak about serious topics without compromising the gameplay in some way or another, but Songbird Symphony really fused things together in such a convincing way that it only makes the game all the more rewarding. You cheer for Birb as he walks courageously down the path of uncertainty and along the way, he matures and flourishes through the art of music. We wish more games would sew these sort of emotional elements into their fabric because it would certainly help to bring the game to life, and create a more personal feel to the experience. One thing we should point out though that we would’ve liked to see is an actual world map because there were many moments where we found ourselves going in circles because everything looks quite similar. Had there been a small map to assist us as to where to go next it would’ve been great.
Beautiful pixel art design that feels like you’re watching a cartoon.
You really feel an emotional connection to Birb since the game does a great job of conveying emotional topics in a compelling way.
The songs in the game are very fun to play and you can always replay them should you ever want to master them.
A quick little tutorial mode would’ve made things easier, especially for new players coming in unfamiliar with rhythm games.
A world map would’ve also helped to ensure that navigating around the environment wouldn’t be so confusing.
Honey's Final Verdict:
Songbird Symphony left us in a chirpy mood and we hope that it leaves you feeling the same way after playing. While the game isn’t very long it does in fact provide a truly rewarding experience once you’re able to S rank every song, and collect all of the notes that are scattered throughout the game. We hope that this interview convinced you enough to go out and buy this game, and your experience will be just as fulfilling as ours.
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Author: Rob "NualphaJPN" B.
A passionate fan of gaming, writing, journalism, anime, and philosophy. I've lived in Japan for many years and consider this place to be my permanent home. I love to travel around Japan and learn about the history and culture! Leave a comment if you enjoy my articles and watch me play on twitch.tv/honeysgaming ! Take care!