How does one write about a game that’s not a game?
Feather, by Australian developer Samurai Punk, doesn’t task you with anything other than discovering a lovingly created island as a bird, possibly in the company of random strangers. It’s a case of ‘make your own fun’: you’re going to get out of Feather what you put into it. It’s totally experiential, akin to taking a hike or meditating. Or both. I guess you could liken it to interactive fiction, but there isn’t a plot per se, and the only ending happens when you turn off your system.
What I do know is that Feather is enjoyable, capable of setting you aloft in a very convincing hawk simulator and goading you into looking into every nook, cranny and alcove. Swooping around is a transcendent experience: your bird never takes off at unmanageable speeds, straddling the line between feeling like you’re getting somewhere expediently while giving you a chance to soak in your surroundings. It’s meant to be very zen-like for the player as they take in the low-poly world.
An interesting aspect to it all is that, much like Sony’s silent Journey, you could potentially run into a group of nameless fowl who are exploring the world with you. You can call to them, group with them and otherwise interact non-verbally. It’s an interesting concept, and one that made me observant of how others play. Nobody I came across with had any trollish predilections, although to be fair it would be tough to act in such a way with so few options for interaction at your disposal; rather, it was fun to find new places by following others and watching them take a path less trodden, as it were.
Even without other people to guide you, the small island you’re unleashed upon is an interesting amalgamation of environments that are meant to give Feather a diverse scope while still being manageable to travel across with relative ease. Forests, mountains and seas are all within wings reach, while caves, coves and rivers beg to be sussed out. As someone who likes to take hikes in real life, this was a pretty close digital approximation, akin to the scenic strolls of Firewatch.
Although it’s difficult to judge Feather as a game, I can tell you that I had a good time exploring its world on the wings of a bird. There is little to do beyond listening to the wind, taking flight and cogitating about it all the while – which, frankly, is fantastic. It’s about time somebody took a stab at interactive tranquility.
Feather was developed by Samurai Punk and is available on PC and Switch. We reviewed the Switch version.
Disclosure statement: Review code for Feather was provided by Samurai Punk. A Most Agreeable Pastime operates as an independent site, and all opinions expressed are those of the author.