The Falconeer certainly has originality on its side; how many other games let you ride giant falcons?
Unfortunately though, a game needs to have more to it than originality to be a compelling and enjoyable experience. Though that’s not to say that The Falconeer is a bad game. It’s just disappointing more than anything.
After completing a prologue chapter that gets you up to speed with the basic mechanics of the game, The Falconeer opens up. Four chapters are available from the outset, and you can jump into them in any order you see fit. Once you’ve progressed far enough into them all, a final chapter opens up for you to finish the affair.
You’ll likely not care for The Falconeer‘s story; a dull tale of warring factions which, of course, you find yourself at the centre of. It fails to draw you in like it should, thanks largely to the way its presented. Characters bark at you from boxes on the screen, using alien terms that will turn you off. And then there’s the voice acting that’s just all over the place.
A game like The Falconeer doesn’t need to rely on its story though – gameplay is more important, and, thankfully, it does hit some right notes. Sitting atop your mighty giant falcon, you’re free to fly around sparse but beautiful locations at your leisure. In fact, it pays to do so. But to put a dent in the game and improve your bird, you’re going to want to complete missions and earn money.
By landing at various towns and outposts, you can pick up story missions, prefaced with dialogue putting them into context and a simple briefing. Side missions are available too, which are free of such jibber-jabber. Ultimately though, whether you take on a story mission or side mission, you’ll find yourself doing the same few things.
Sometimes you’ll head out with the sole aim of finding and taking down some adversaries, be they fellow bird riders or ships. Other times you might be tasked with delivering an item safely, or even recovering an item and bringing it back. And of course, in both of those scenarios, adversaries often make an appearance, making your task more complicated. There’s your fair share of escort missions, too.
Controlling your bird is mostly an enjoyable affair. They move through the sky with grace, and by using energy generated by diving, you can swiftly accelerate. When you find yourself in battle, barrel rolling can help you avoid enemy attacks. Other than that, you’ll need to outmanoeuvre your enemies using your agility, and that can be tricky.
You see, the button tied to slowing down your bird also makes it sharply dive depending on where you’re positioned and the angle you’re flying. It can make trying to outmanoeuvre your opponents very unwieldy; if near water, don’t be surprised to find yourself diving into it as if to pick something up when you simply want to reduce your pace. You often just don’t feel like you have the precision you need.
Another annoyance in The Falconeer is its ammo system; your primary weapon is powered by lightning, and to recharge it in the midst of battle you need to fly into a storm. It’s a neat idea in principle, but needing to break out of combat to seek out a storm when you’re out of ammo breaks the flow of the action. A small amount of freely regenerative ammo would have been welcome.
The biggest detriment to The Falconeer‘s gameplay, though, is repetition. With such little mission variety, you begin to feel like you’re re-treading old ground very quickly. The poor story doesn’t help, either. The only thing that might keep you going is the prospect of upgrading your falcon with mutagens, a limited number of which can be equipped to boost their stats. Your weapon can be upgraded, too.
It’s a lovely looking game, but The Falconeer just doesn’t entertain like it should. From its repetitive missions to its story that you’ll quickly stop caring about, it fails to capture your attention in the long term, while occasional frustration in combat puts a bit of a downer on the gameplay. Just flying around in its world can be quite a calming experience though. Silver linings and all that.