Feather is a beautiful game where you fly around an island as a bird.
There are few games out there that give you the liberty to just fly. It’s an unnatural feeling for us humans, and — when done right — is a magical experience to take a journey into the wild blue yonder. Feather does flight right as it offers up a liberating experience where you fly around as a bird, with tight controls and a realistic-feeling flight mechanic. Unfortunately, that is the extent of what your little bird can do.
The particular island you inhabit in Feather is decently sized, considering the size of the bird you control, with a handful of hidden pathways to sail through and explore. You never have to worry about crashing, either, as Feather will automatically rewind your bird flying into an obstacle — be it a large tree or the ground — and give you the opportunity to try again. This mechanic is a great addition to the zen-like nature of the game and makes it calming to know you will never see a fade-out to black, game over or loading screen.
Flight controls in Feather had to be perfect to make the experience worthwhile, and thankfully, they are. You can fly up and down similarly to most flight sims, turn side to side to go left and right and even ‘do a barrel roll.’ If you find yourself suddenly needing to turn around, you can do that also with a quick button press, although this is a bit weird as the camera angle turns around and the bird sort of disappears from the screen for a moment, but it’s manageable. All of these are topped off with the ability to ‘tweet’ by pressing Y, but I never actually found a purpose for this other than novelty — I guess the same could be said for many racing games that include a horn.
The music in Feather is varied, ranging from soothing piano to the simple plucking rhythm of a guitar, paired with a flute. One of the things you can do during your flight is change the music by flying through one of the nine rings around the island — which totally remind me of the ones from Stargate for some reason. These rings offer reasons to explore each area and listen to their appropriate music, but feel like a missed opportunity to add additional visual flair to the game.
The sound in the game is comprised mostly of your bird’s wings gently flapping and wind sounds as you speed through the landscape, but there is also the sound of unseen birds chirping. I can’t tell if these hidden birds are played within the soundtrack or just happen to be chirping from hidden places all over the island itself, but they are there and they are loud. It sort of takes you out of the peaceful experience once you start to notice them.
While the graphics in Feather have a colorful, low-poly aesthetic to them, it’s sometimes painful to experience due to the low framerate found on the Switch version of the game. I often found myself chugging along at a framerate in the low twenties, just by facing the whole of the island itself. It’s unfortunate, as the day and night cycle of the game offers some seriously impressive color schemes, painting the sky pink and orange one moment and offering up a stark daylight blue the next. The night sky that they designed for the game also has a very believable spread of stars that twinkle in the distance and the full moon is a nice accent to top it off.
Beyond the random exploration, you’ll find that Feather is devoid of any particular ‘gameplay’, but that might be exactly what you’re looking for. No enemies, no death and no collectibles. Just you, a bird, and its endless flight through a beautiful and colorful land. I found the game to be a bit lacking for my tastes, but I totally understand the appeal. Much like the popularity of ASMR videos, it’s certainly not for everyone, but for those of you looking for a peaceful musical experience to take your mind off things, Feather is a great choice to go with.