I am not a big fan of most endless runner games. I have never understood how people can spend so much time playing Temple Run or a thousand variations of it, because there does not seem to have a goal or an objective one can aspire to. When I first got my hands on Bird of Light, I expected it to be similar. I am extremely glad to have been proven wrong. Bird of Light combines storytelling, puzzle solving, and running mechanics to create a game that miraculously succeeds in mastering all of these aspects.
Developed by the Hyderabad based Roach Interactive, Bird of Light has numerous unique qualities that set it apart from the majority of the mobile games, and especially runners. The most striking feature, for me, was that the game actually has a great story. It tells us about eight year old Tara, whose family moves from a city to a village, where she makes friends with the farm animals. The mystery begins when the animals begin to disappear one by one, and the Bird of Light comes to guide and help Tara.
The story is told rather beautifully by very cute interactive 3D screens, which need to be unlocked by playing the game. So, there is always something to look forward to, when you are running the platforms and trying to gather the key to the next gate. In fact, the runner levels actually represent Tara’s journey towards the truth with the Bird of Light.
Another aspect of the game that I find fascinating, is the subjective difficulty. The runner levels can be adjusted within reasonable bounds. Before a level begins, you will be shown a map, with your starting position and destination. But there would be gaps between them, and you will be provided with a number of tiles to bridge that gap. How you want to do so, is your choice.
You can create a longer route where you collect all the coins and eggs, you can create a route that would be the fastest way to your goal, or you can attempt to create a route that combines them both- picks up the most eggs in the shortest time. How you want to run, is completely up to you.
There are currently 21 hand crafted levels in the game right now, and each of them has similar multiple possible solutions and routes to run. This freedom in designing the route of each level goes to show the depth of level design, and gives the game an incredible amount of customizable replayability, which is rarely seen in a free-to-play game.
I cannot end the preview without mentioning the wonderful graphical art of Bird of Light, which was the first aspect that captured my attention. The low poly 3D art style is both colorful and attractive, and conveys the environment and mood of the game capably. Everything from windmills to sheep and cattle come alive when you run through the countryside. In fact, Bird of Light is the first game that made me wish I had a phone with a larger screen.
Bird of Light is a shining example of the promise of Indian game developers, and it shows off their capability as well. In a single game, Roach Interactive has integrated so many different aspects, that should not have gone well together, but does. The wonderful combination of different types of gameplay elements, the beautiful graphics, the excellent level design, the custom score- all of these aspects show great care and polish, which seems to be a defining quality of Bird of Light. It shows that the game is a product of passion, rather than a mechanical offspring of minds.
Bird of Light is currently in beta, but it will soon be available on Android and iOS for free. However, you can apply for the beta here.