The Falconeer Review (XSX)
Updated: May 2, 2021
Developed: Tomas Sala
Published: Wired Productions
Genre: Third person Open Air
Release Date: Nov 10th, 2020
*Game provided for this review by publisher
The Falconeer is a third person open world air combat game published by Wired Productions and solo developed by Tomas Sala. In what can be considered a very original title, Falconeer attempts to change the aerial combat dog fighting genre and turn it into something completely brand new. However, is this game the wind beneath our wings? or is nothing more than an over glorified carrier pigeon? Well, only one way to find out, so lets fly like an eagle!..... even though were a falcon.
The Falconeer is an open world air combat game where dog fighting takes on a whole new meaning. Instead of flying around in fighter jets and shooting down all enemy aircraft, you now take on the role of a falconeer who pilot themselves on gigantic birds, yes, even bigger than the one's you find on sesame street, sorry big bird, you've been replaced. As you start your game, you're given a choice of which chapter you wish to start first, with chapters 1 to 4 offering you not only a different class, but a different faction as well. This can make things both interesting and confusing at the same time, so I will do my best to explain.
Falconeer does not work like a typical game you'd find in this type of genre, which is both a really good thing for the sake of uniqueness, but also can be considered rather confusing due to the way the chapter selection option is constructed. Immediately at the start of your adventure you can select any chapter, doesn't matter if its chapter 1 or 2 or 3, it has no really baring on your experience other than the stats of your bird. You do not have to play any of the chapters in chronological order. No matter what chapter you select, you will be thrusted into one of the multiple factions in the game and experience the games story through that factions point of view. Sounds cool right? well, it is a little bit yeah, but that means you can skip any factions point of view if you find a bird you like more than the other and completely miss out on some of the other elements the game has to offer you. Which can be a real shame.
While that previous information might have been a bit of a damper, I wouldn't worry too much about it since the majority of game is focused extensively on the game play and exploration aspect over the actual story itself. If you're familiar with titles such as Ace Combat or Crimson Skies, then you should have an idea roughly of what you're getting yourself into with this title, except only this time it's the bird that's the word. So what about these birds I keep talking about? what about these factions I keep talking about? WHY DO FOOLS FALL IN LOVE!? These are questions you're all wondering right about now, and I think its high time we get to explaining the main focus of the game itself. So, fly you fools!
In Falconeer you have a choice to pick through multiple classes. These classes range from Falconeer, Mercenary, Imperial Freelancer, Mancer seeker. Each class has their own unique bird to choose from and they all have varied stats in categories such as speed, agility, damage, survivability. In addition to each bird having their own set stats, they also have their own unique weapons at their disposal. But this is where the problem I talked about earlier in this review comes into play, because depending on which chapter you play, it will determine which bird you have at your disposal. For instance if you select the chapter that equips you with the Mancer Seeker, then you aren't going to want to go back and play the previous chapters due to how over powered this bird is. I'm serious, its stats are nearly maxed out to the point where it almost makes the other birds seem obsolete in a way, if I had to lay it all down there for you. It's one of the few balancing issues that made me scratch my head during my playthrough.
Once you have picked your poison and found the bird that best suits how you want to play, it's now time to take the sky and soar!. In your roughly 10-12 hour play through of the main game, you will venture across vast oceans, enormous mountain landscapes, and experience beautiful sunsets. But don't get too comfortable because the game will change its pace from moment to moment and sometimes even catching you off guard. One moment you'll be soaring peacefully across dark cold wintery mountains minding your own business and taking in the view, but WHAM, you're immediately thrusted in a winner take all death match dog fight with airships, manta rays, and even fellow Falconeers who were ordered to hunt you down and put you 6ft under. Do not let your guard down.
The Falconeer at times can feel like a very fast paced game and some situations you get yourself into can get very intense. With your bird, you can soar through the air with your long wings and swoop down to enemy ships or bases below with fast and fluid precision that makes you feel like a god of the sky. Flying in this game feels absolutely amazing and it controls like a dream with every movement you make, whether its swooping down at blistering speeds or spinning out of the way of incoming enemy fire, you always feel like you're in control and if you happen to die, it's only because you made the wrong move and it's not the fault of the game itself. Having said that though, this is the type of game where you WILL have to pick your spots and choose which enemies you want to engage first and which enemies you will want to hold off on before taking down at a later time. Taking on one or two enemies at a time won't give you that much trouble, but suddenly when you get a fleet breathing down your little bird brain, oh boy, you're in for it. If you find yourself at wits end in a level that you just can't get passed, then it's time for you to upgrade your bird and the only way to do this is by collecting Splinters.
You may collect splinters by completing objectives in each chapter or special missions. Upon fulfilling certain requirements, you will get a set amount of them that can be used to raise your base stats or gear to make your bird that much more of a formidable opponent against enemies...but this is where we come to a major problem. The biggest problem with this system is because the currency of Splinters comes very slowly and in itty bitty quantities till the point where you may only upgrade your gear twice in an entire 10-12 hour play through due to how much each upgrade costs. This makes the game feel a little cumbersome because it forces you to replay and replay until you acquire enough Splinters needed to get strong enough to advance and that can be a debbie downer. But like good ol J.R. would say, ''BAH GAWD'', yes, bah gawd indeed, because that's not the end of your woes. If you think not having enough currency to upgrade your gear and bird is an issue cause it takes too long, welp, im about to slap your little face some more, for you see, while you're struggling to beat a level, there's just one more issue.... there are no check points. Yes you heard me right, this game took the old school approach with giving you zero checkpoints. Spend 15 minutes and die on the last section of a stage, be prepared to start all over again and re-do it. Mixing both the currency and no check point issue, this may serve as a big turn off for a lot of gamers.
''Holy crap you complain a lot'', right? seriously. I kind of do. But the game is not all misery however, because even if you got frustrated with the type of combat the game offers you, it does tend to switch it up every now and then with escort and delivery missions. Hey...hey...HEY, you, yeah you, in the back, sit down and stop your groaning. I know usually escort and delivery missions can be pretty boring, like some missions from the assassins creed series with trailing missions, but here its way different. Instead of following a human around for 30 min and not really doing anything, in Falconeeer, you swoop down through enemy territory to grab treasure chests and attempt to make your way back to where the objective tells you to go. These missions I found to be some of the most intense parts of the game because you fly your little birdie wings off at sonic speed pace, all while being hunted by legions of airships, battleships and fellow falconeers as they shoot at you to blow you out of the sky. I absolutely loved these missions because it felt like I really was doing something very important and everything depended on me.
Once you get tired of the repetitive nature of the dog fighting game play, you're free to free roam around the chapters scenery, whether it be big oceans, deep caverns, wintery mountains, if you see it, you can go there and just enjoy the view and I say do it, spend as much time as you can to look at the scenery because its gorgeous and at times can become quite breathtaking. Explore as much of the world of Ursee as you can and maybe you'll get lucky and find some hidden sections of the game that explain more of the worlds lore. You won't be disappointed if you do.
When its all said and done, The Falconeer offers us as the player something that feels very familiar, but at the same time, something that feels really unique. In our minds we know we've played something similar to it before, but its just so well executed in its game play, its mechanics and its scenery that when trying to directly compare it to something else, we just can't do it, and that to me is a sign of something unique and special. Even though it has set backs with the bird balancing issue, lack of check points and gear upgrades being too expensive, I feel personally it doesn't effect the overall quality of what Tomas Sala achieved here and I feel extremely confident in saying that this is definitely worth the look. So with that verdict, GameNChick says BUY NOW