Year: 2021
Platform: PlayStation 4
Genre: Flying Simulator
Review Date: 9/2/22
Rating: **

"Feather" is described as a calming and meditative game with no threats or combat, and in fact, no objectives at all. You simply fly around a couple of islands as a bird while listening to a variety of soothing new age songs. Unfortunately, it's not quite as calming and meditative as I was hoping, because I got a headache and was queasy within 30 minutes. Controlling your bird can be frustrating because you're always in motion and always moving too fast. Just like any flight simulator, the constantly shifting perspective makes it difficult to see around you and line up your trajectory, so you're always bumping into things. And when you bump into something, the game rewinds a few seconds and lets you try again, but most of the time you end up getting stuck because you can't reorient yourself quickly enough to get out of trouble. So you end up in a repeating loop of failure trying to break free from a trap that you accidentally got yourself into.

The game is moderately attractive and the islands are full of variety and surprises. The lighting and weather are dynamic, so the world goes through night-and-day cycles that change the look and feel of everything, and there are various portals you can pass through to change the music and switch what type of bird you are. I transformed into at least a dozen different birds, and they all appeared to have the same abilities. I was initially disappointed with the first island because it's fairly bland, but once you find the magic portal to the second island, things get a lot more interesting and fantastical. Navigation also becomes more difficult as the terrain becomes tighter and more complex. In addition to abstract structures, the second island includes a couple of shipwrecks, a lighthouse, a bridge, and some other ruined buildings. There's also a centrally located glowing orb that's anchored in a valley which just begs to be unleashed, but I couldn't find any way to interact with it. Which brings us to another frustration: there are lots of items in the world that look like they can be (and should be) interacted with, but they're just static pieces of scenery, which seems like a design flaw and a missed opportunity. Don't show me a button if I can't press it.

Assuming you can master the controls and not get motion sickness, "Feather" can be a pleasant and relaxing way to spend a couple of hours without getting too stressed out about the pressure and demands that most video games require. It's an open world sandbox that you can leisurely explore, but it's very much like window shopping: you can look all you want, but you can't touch.