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Animal companions aren’t a new thing in video games. The character dynamic that you have with your NPC companion can be a surreal experience if done right. – the deciding factor is your interactions with the NPC. Whether it’s Epona from The Legend of Zelda, Dogmeat from Fallout, Senu from Assassin’s Creed Origins (you too eagle-bearing Misthios), or Roach from The Witcher 3, the dynamic relationship between the player and his animal companion has been heavily reliant upon the interactions with the slight sugar coating of thoughtfully provocative storytelling.

With Falcon Age, the small team at Outerloop Games aims to create a single-player open-world experience that is driven by your dynamic relationship with your bird companion. As ever, your interactions will play a huge role in all this. You can pet, feed, and fight alongside your bird. You are also provided with armors, weapons, and other playful things. But none of that is for you – it’s for your bird! The amount of emphasis on the bird is the game-changing factor here. All that sounds good on the paper but is there more to it or it’s just another shallow open-world title? Let’s dig deep and see where those feathery wings take us.

Reclaiming the Lost Legacy

The game is set upon a planet colonized by machine-invaders. Stripped of its future, resources, and livelihood, the inhabitants of this planet have formed a resistance against the machines but barely stand a chance. You play as Ara who gets imprisoned by the machines at the beginning. During her time in the clink, she befriends a baby falcon, and together both of them learn to survive. Eventually, both share a formidable bond and break out of the prison after a successful attempt. Here on out, in the shoes of Ara, you learn to hunt, gather, and fight to reclaim her cultural legacy in the lost art of falcon hunting against a force of automated colonizers.

In my playthrough, I named my falcon Agni that translates to fire in Sanskrit. It provided me with plentiful of memorable and playful moments. If it wasn’t for my bird, the game’s 5-6 hour long campaign would have felt like a slog for me. The quests lack variety and tend to get repetitive at times by asking you to liberate outposts and refineries one after another. As for characters, besides the auntie who saves Ara after her breakout, there’s not much depth to any character in the game. With a lack of interesting NPCs, an empty dystopian world, and mediocre storytelling there wasn’t much reason to stick around if it wasn’t for the bird.

The Falcon and the Falconer

The sense of freedom offered in the Falcon Age is quite conflicting if you compare the falcon and its master Ara. While playing as Ara, the gameplay feels to be more restricted as you cannot jump or fall. Adding to that, the clunky movement makes the matter even worse for Ara. Thankfully, it’s not all bad though. Things certainly get better when it comes to commanding the falcon. You can use your left hand to point out distant objects to grab, fruit to gather, and animals to hunt. Ara also wields a baton that shoots out an energized beam that can be used as a whip. You can use it to bash things, whip open chests and pull switches. Overall there’s a bit of jankiness to Ara but co-ordinating the bird feels awfully good.

When it comes to the falcon, the game becomes boundless as nothing is out of reach for her. Thanks to her wide range of attacks, you can work with her to smash robots and reclaim outposts and refineries. You can handover bombs to your falcon that allows your bird to take down turrets, clear obstacles, and clear debris from farming lands. Besides that, you can have the falcon grab things and toss them over to you. Speaking of items, there are plentiful toys for you to hand over to your bird and see it do some insane yet hilarious tricks. Adding to that, I certainly loved doing hand gestures with the falcon, it is just awfully cute and hard to not fall in love with.

Non-VR Mode

You will also find plentiful hats, costumes, and accessories that provide armored protection and new abilities. For instance, accessories like claws can be used to dig up chests and scarf clothing can provide the bird with a slight armor buildup. When the bird gets injured – you will need to remove needles stuck in its body – quite painful if you ask me. Then you treat it with food items. All this can be done with ease – thanks to the game’s easy to manage inventory.

My only issue with managing all this seemed awkward due to its UI. It heavily seems directed towards the VR mode. Also, I can’t but imagine that my in-game interactions could have been better if I was playing in VR. Since I do not have any VR peripherals, I guess I’ll never know for sure.

Art-Style and Background Score

I really liked the minimalistic art-style of Falcon Age but the world it inhabits looks barren. It’s almost as empty as what we see in titles Mad-Max. There are some aliasing issues at a few places along with some minor stuttering issues and slow texture-loading. Texture-popping is considerably noticeable in a few areas.

Thankfully, the overall performance of the game remains decent with some minor exceptions. At some indoor and outdoor areas, I noticed the game switching from 60 to 30 FPS. It didn’t happen quite often so overall the experience remained quite playable for me.

As for the background score and in-game sound effects, the game is fairly good. I really liked the instrumental themes associated with each in-game area. They are simplistic and bode well with the gameplay. Aside from the uneven and emotionless voice-over of auntie, everything remains fairly decent in this aspect of the game.

Real Talk

Despite its fair share of annoyances, Falcon Age is often rewarding due to its profound sense of companionship. If anyone’s a star here it’s got to be the falcon that kept on pulling me back into the game even during highly tedious moments. The game excels at the in-game interactions between the Falcon and Ara. However, Ara’s clunky movements and the game’s uninspiring narrative leave much to be desired.


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