Songbird Symphony is the touching tale of an orphaned chick who sets off on an adventure to find his true family, discovering a wonderful little combination rhythm/platforming game along the way. His name is Birb. It’s a good name.
Despite his strong sense of rhythm and penchant for bursting into song, Birb’s adoptive peacock family consider him a freak due to his small stature and lack of colourful plumage. All except his goofy Uncle Pea, who encourages the youngster to strike out on a quest to find where he fits into the game’s goofy avian world. With a spring in his step and an endearing bounce to his pixels, Birb travels the world, meeting new birds and adding new notes to his rhythm gaming repertoire.
Released last week for Switch, PlayStation 4, and Steam, Joysteak Studios’ Songbird Symphony is one part casual platformer, one part rhythm game musical. Birb’s world is a 2D side-scrolling adventure with items to collect and little puzzles to solve using his unique musical skills. Singing the right notes can move a floating platform or open a secret door.
As Birb explores, he regularly encounters musical challenges. Fine feathered friends and enemies alike challenge Birb to increasingly complex tests of rhythmic button-pressing skill. Instead of sticking to a set path or pattern, like the tracks of a game like Guitar Hero, Songbird Symphony’s challenges change in structure and form over the course of each song. One moment notes are popping up from the ground to be pressed when they land, the next they are dropping from the sky or arcing across the screen.
When the game begins, Birb will have only one note to keep track of. During his quest to uncover his heritage, other birds will gift him with additional notes. By the end of the game he’s juggling six. It’s a lovely way to add challenge and complexity to a rhythm game.
What’s most delightful about Songbird Symphony is the music. This is no mishmash of licensed tunes. It’s a full-fledged original musical. Each rhythm challenge features lyrics that pop up on the screen between sections, encouraging players to sing along with the game’s instrumentalised voices. It’s only a matter of time before the video game music remix community delivers a vocal album based on Birb’s adventures.
I love rhythm games of all sorts, but I love them even more when they make an effort to be charming and to bring something new to the genre. Songbird Symphony is a classic fable retold as a musical platforming adventure. And it has Birb. Can’t go wrong with Birb.