Very few games can boast artwork and music created by illustrious 19th century artists, however, Aviary Attorney is one of the few that manage it. With characters originally created by J. J. Grandville and music composed by Camille Saint-Saëns, you can feel assured that Aviary Attorney is going to be a stunning game, both visually and aurally. With these two on board, Sketchy Logic went where many indie developers go in order to fund their dream – Kickstarter. Asking for a modest sum of £7,000 for their idea, backers offered them two and a half times that amount to see Aviary Attorney come to life – and although it did take over a year, the game is now available to play. It’s a game much in the same vein as the Phoenix Wright series, only with a feathery hero taking the place of the star of the Ace Attorney series.
Those who backed the game will certainly not be disappointed by what has been offered by the team. Mandy Lennon, the game’s animator and designer, really knocked this out of the park when it came to animating J. J. Grandville’s beautiful characters and creating some of the gorgeous backdrops used in the game. It’s impossible to overstate quite how brilliant Aviary Attorney looks, and Lennon’s ability to take the original designs and put them into the game is an incredible effort. The stunning artwork is all complemented by the magnificent music, which may be a hundred and fifty years old, but it works perfectly in the game and whenever a musical interlude was playing, I found myself just sitting and taking it all in. Both aspects blend together so well and make such a phenomenal, harmonious game that is utterly irresistible.
I could probably talk about the artistic aspects of the game all day, as that is how good they are, but they aren’t the only great parts of the game. The game comes with a cast of excellent characters that are all fantastically written, as well as an absorbing story for them all to participate in. Every member of the story has a decent backstory and feels fleshed out, and they are capable of delivering some real rib-tickling jokes even when times may be a little tough. The camaraderie between the two protagonists is up there with the most enjoyable partnerships in gaming, as they have such impeccable friendly banter that is so much fun to read through. The story itself is wonderful as well, with decisions seemingly having an effect on the game as a whole and multiple endings to give the game some decent replay value. It was actually challenging to put the game down at times as I was fully engaged with the story and didn’t want to have to wait to see what happened next.
Functionally, the game works very well, with a very similar vibe to the Phoenix Wright series, as you spend a lot of time roaming Paris interrogating people and finding clues that may help you defend your current client, and then going to court to deliver your defence and hopefully sway the jury in your favour. Visiting all the fantastic locations and interaction with all the colourful characters the game offers you is fantastic, but the actual court session really makes the game brilliant. The jury will gain and lose faith in you depending on your actions, so even though you may eventually deliver a reasoned defence of your client, the jury may not always go your way, which makes the game a real challenge. You have to match up the flaws in what the person on the stand says with the evidence you have at your disposal, and if you don’t have all the facts, you can end up making yourself look very silly.
Waxing lyrical about this game is very easy to do, but it isn’t without it’s faults. The major issue is that it was released unfinished, which, while it didn’t initially affect me, is an idea that seems to match up with the developer’s company name. I can understand having a couple of bugs in the game or maybe some cut content, but to leave out an entire ending is not just baffling, it’s poor management and shows little regard for the fanbase. I’m sure that the game has been patched now, but for some players this may well sully their image of Sketchy Logic.
The only other fault I can comment on in Aviary Attorney is how short the game is. If I was being generous, I’d say that there is a maximum of four hours of game play for you to see everything the game has to offer you. While that may seem like a decent amount for an indie game, I’d counter that by suggesting that for the price, I’d expect a good six to eight hours of gameplay, especially as the title does have multiple endings to view. Maybe I’m just being grouchy because I didn’t want the game to end at all, though.
I thoroughly enjoyed Aviary Attorney, and I’m sure anyone that enjoys point and click adventures will too. The artwork is stunning, the music is fantastic and the story is masterfully written, even if it is a little short. I really think this game is one of my favourites of the year, and I am really hoping that at some point there will be a sequel, just so I can continue to enjoy the whimsy of Jayjay Falcon and Sparrowson.