Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken
In a fowl world where fascist Penguins run the show, a budding rebel uprising begins to manifest from the Chicken nation. Leading the forefront is their champion, Hardboiled, a chicken whose moniker speaks in volumes of his capabilities. With guns, a rocket pack, a personal vendetta, and more guns, Hardboiled aims to decimate the Penguin regime and get a lot off his chest in the process.
Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken’s visuals and oddball humor are sure to turn heads but its purposely consistent dry tone has a tendency of impeding total savoring over its finer points. When the dull vocals and tunes of New World Revolution isn’t taking up ear space the adventure runs on a droning soundtrack of footsteps, flat voice acting and irksome faux bird calls. As you progress, the story of Hardboiled’s life unfolds in often melancholic flash CGs, amusing at times as it performs like a ‘90s alternative rock music video.
The platforming journey is broken down between action and solving puzzles in the form of opening access to a passageway using crates, elevators, and color coded keycards – an obvious nod to the influence of the Commander Keen franchise as some levels stow away references to the series. Gunplay is the only element to the process of ass kicking where Hardboiled can pack up to three different firearms, finding increasingly stronger gear as he progresses.
Getting trigger happy is the usual terms of engagement but there are occasions where you can hide in dark places to take enemies by surprise, or toggle between standing and crouching (the latter being the most useful) in letting loose a payload of humorous juggle prone fire. You can also roll about while crouched which usually ends up being the preferred method of travel given its speed but it forces you to tap the interaction command twice as Hardboiled goes through a two step process of standing back up before finally flipping a switch.
Hardboiled will also become fitted with infinite grenades and brain bugs used to remotely control enemies to do his bidding. This adds a lot of intrigue for puzzle solving as well as added convenience in running through eventual sections without worry of enemy fire. However, whether you’re lobbing explosives or mind controlling drones, you’re forced to aim and adjust your angle of throw thus nullifying the ability to rapidly unload freely. This is a real annoyance as there is little to fall back on when surrounded by swarms of hostiles.
The namesake of Rocketbirds comes from Hardboiled’s use of his rocket pack and a number of scenarios involves taking to the air to infiltrate enemy aircrafts, but not before awarding tango down status to airborne foes. These are the sections I really didn’t look forward to. Both the mouse and keyboard are used to steer through the clouds while trying to shoot down your targets and out maneuver homing missiles in the meantime. Between being unable to shoot straight, opting to use the missiles to do your dirty work, and the controls constantly betraying you as the mouse and keys fight for dominance, the whole thing is a setup for a drawn out buzzkill.
Rocketbirds also offers local and online multiplayer but as the PC version is tied to Steam you can only game with those on your friends list unlike the console version. Multiplayer tends to be a feature questionable in its novelty as you’re just going through the same stages from single player with slight changes here and there. Single player is already a repetitive experience as you’re essentially mowing down or mind controlling enemies, figuring out how and where to get certain keycards, moving crates, riding lifts, the only deviation being the order of duties coupled with a change in scenery.
Rocketbirds doesn’t bring anything new nor does it break any ground, however it’s a niche experience in its own right and more importantly it delivers as a title that will occupy your time. Once it’s done and over with, revisiting the apathetic revolution more than likely won’t be something that’ll come up in your to-do list in the future. But it’s still a recommendable fanfare if you’re just looking for a little blood and silliness to go with your platforming.