Friday, February 5, 2021

REVIEW: Aviary Attorney (game)

Aviary Attorney is a visual novel with adventure game elements.


This game is divided into four Acts. Your choices in Act 3 determine which of the three different Act 4 variations you play.

The setting is 1840s France, with animal people. In Act 1, defense attorney Jayjay Falcon and his sidekick, Sparrowson, are asked to defend a wealthy young cat who has been accused of killing one of her guests, a frog. She was found standing over the body, her paws red with blood. In later acts, Falcon finds himself dealing with tricky villains and dangerous French politics.

Gameplay-wise, this was like a more frustrating version of Ace Attorney. As in Ace Attorney, you visited various locations, collected evidence, and talked to potential witnesses and suspects. During the various trials, you were given the option to cross-examine people - a few statements in their testimony would be underlined, and you'd have to pick the one you thought your evidence could contradict and then present that evidence. 

Act 3 was downright annoying: every useful place you needed to visit took up a whole day's worth of time, you only had a limited number of days in which to do everything (I couldn't figure out how many I had left), and it was possible to visit an important location and miss vital pieces of evidence. In order to unlock all three possible Act 4's, I replayed the last 1-3 parts of Act 3 about four times, and that's only because I resorted to checking the Steam Discussion forums to find out what I'd missed. The game didn't have an option to skip text I'd already read, so replaying different parts just to find the one tiny detail or conversation option I'd missed was painful.

Prior to Act 3, though, I loved this game. The artwork was wonderful, and the dialogue and stories were fun. I was expecting the story to be fun but silly, based on how useless Falcon and Sparrowson seemed to be as lawyers, so the dark turn at the end of Act 1 was a surprise. There were more dark moments to come, but the mix of occasionally goofy dialogue helped keep things from getting too bleak.

Of the three endings, B was my favorite, followed by A. A and C had moments I liked, but both of them grew from a moment in Act 3 that I wish could have been avoided.

Overall, I liked this, despite its issues. The story was interesting and the characters were a lot of fun, even though the gameplay had some unnecessarily annoying aspects. I'd recommend it to fans of the Ace Attorney style of gameplay. But I'd definitely recommend Ace Attorney over Aviary Attorney - it's much more polished and less frustrating to play.

Oh, one more thing: Aviary Attorney includes an in-game version of Black Jack - playing involves betting 5 francs per game, and I tended to lose more than I won. I'd advise against playing it too much, because it's helpful (vital?) to have some francs saved up for various purchases in Act 4.

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