Songbird Symphony, developed by Joysteak Studios and published by PQube, is now out on Playstation 4, Nintendo Switch and PC. We checked out this musical platformer on a PS4.
Our extensive playtest with the game wasn’t the first time we saw it either – we actually first laid eyes on Songbird Symphony almost a full year ago during Gamescom. Cute and instantly evoking memories of games like Beatbuddy and Inside My Radio – platformers that were more fun because jumps and moves had to be timed to music in order to be successful.
In Songbird Symphony you control a little bird called Birb – a character that looks like he’d also fit in great with a modern remake of The New Zealand Story, a 30 year old niche arcade classic that also made it to home platforms. A young Birb realizes he’s different from the peacocks that surround him, and sets out on a quest to find his parents.
A friendly owl guides him and tell him to collect musical notes from the other birds he encounters on his journeys – thus allowing Birb to grow and develop. Singing the notes also gives Birb special abilities, allowing him to trigger objects in the environments or get other characters to do something for you. These elements, along with the game’s puzzles, provide nice diversions from otherwise fairly standard and straightforward platforming elements.
Being a musical platformer, there are also sections that bring back memories to the rhythm-based craze that was Guitar Hero. When Bird encounters other birds, he will need to learn their songs in order to progress, meaning that you have to copy the notes they’re singing. If you thought Guitar Hero was too stressful then Songbird Symphony has you covered though – the game unfold at a fairly leisurely pace and the music sections are generally quite forgiving (there’s no penalty for failure either).
Songbird Symphony has very cute visuals, with a mix of modern cartoon-like graphics and retro elements. The overall look reminded me of Dotemu and FDG’s recent Wonderboy titles, although Songbird’s visuals aren’t as diverse and repeat themselves a bit more. The character design and animation are lovely though, with Birb gently bopping to the beat and coming to life through short story scenes that unfold in between the platforming sections.
The story itself isn’t that memorable or even well-written, but few platformers can claim otherwise. I really enjoyed the music though – adding to the pleasant experience of the gameplay. With the art style and difficulty curve I’d say that it would be a great game for kids as well, but I feel like some of the rhythm/puzzle sections would be too challenging for them with odd difficulty spikes in between otherwise very casual sections of gameplay.
There’s a very healthy amount of gameplay available though, with a campaign that last somewhere between 6 to 8 hours – excellent value for money for a little indie platformer. It’s not going to give Rayman a run for its money and doesn’t redefine the musical platformer niche, but it can sit comfortably between games like Beatbuddy and Inside My Radio – and it’s definitely the cutest of the bunch.