Also available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Switch, and Windows
Review written by Stephen Deck; originally published 07/10/2021 on Teacher by Day, Gamer by Night
I remember when The Falconeer popped up on Limited Run Games website as, if memory serves, their first Xbox game. Granted, it’s part of their distributed line, not one of their numbered entries that they’re publishing, but still. I thought it looked super good, but I was trying to cut down my spending, so I skipped it at the time. It came back on my radar when their website added physical releases of the “Warrior Edition” release on PS4, PS5, and Switch. Naturally, being a big Switch collector, I bit the bullet on that release, but having just signed up for Game Pass and seeing The Falconeer on there, I thought, “Why not go ahead and play through the game in 4K at 120 fps so I can better compare to how it plays on Switch?”
What’s super impressive to me is that this game was made by one guy considering that it’s a pretty decently sized open-world game, and while the world is mostly ocean, it’s still impressive. There certainly isn’t as much content and side quests and whatnot as most open-world games, but as far as the open-world goes, it has a vibe similar to Wind Waker except that you’re flying instead of sailing. The game is broken into a prologue, four chapters, and an epilogue, and with the exception of the prologue (which is basically just a tutorial) and the epilogue, it’s all open-world. Each of the chapters is from the perspective of a different faction, and as the larger narrative of a budding war unfolds, you start to see that, just like in real-life wars, there is plenty of blame to go around, and no one is innocent.
The actual gameplay is aerial combat. Think Crimson Skies on Xbox, but instead of an airplane with machine guns, you’re riding on the back of a giant bird with a magic lighting rifle. You other giant bird pilots, ships on the ocean, and big airships. The combat is definitely the highlight here; as I mentioned, the open world is a bit sparse, and the story is good but nothing mind-blowing, but the combat is smoother than an android’s bottom especially if you’re playing on Series X and set the frame rate to 120 fps. Zero frame rate issues, zero screen tearing, a beautiful cell-shaded world, and addicting combat mix to make this one of the finest aerial combat games I’ve ever played.
That said, the game isn’t perfect. The voice acting is pretty bad. It’s not 90s FMV game bad, but it’s definitely not one of the better voice-acted games out there. The story, as well, is good enough to keep me going, but it’s nothing memorable, and I can guarantee I’ll forget the majority of it by August. There are some side quests that can keep things interesting and give a break from the main quest, and there are random tasks you can complete for money, but with fairly limited means of buying upgrades, the incentive to do them was pretty low in my opinion. It’s a great game, and there’s apparently some DLC available that’s going to be included with the PS4/PS5/Switch releases, but I pretty much stuck with the main story outside of hunting down the discoverable locations for achievements.
The Falconeer is an extremely fun and addicting flight combat game with a gorgeous world and a good enough story. That said, the world can feel a bit empty, and the story isn’t going to set anyone’s literary loins ablaze. Still, the gameplay is more than enough to warrant a strong recommendation. It’s on Game Pass, so if you have that, give it a download, but even if you don’t, it’s definitely worth the $20 download.