Birdcaged (formerly known as Colorful Capture) is a game released in 2018 by Kefyrra (Sleeping with Spooks, Shall We Burn Together?). It features music by emamouse.
The player assumes control of Crowdette, a depressed cigarette-smoking crow on a quest to leave her messy apartment and buy a mop. This journey takes her through a colorful monster-filled hallway in which she must fight apparitions of various stressors including a salesman, a would-be suitor, her deceased mother, her negligent father, her landlord, and eventually herself (I think?) before ultimately venturing into the outside world. Stepping outside can lead to two different endings, depending on whether Crowdette decides to get over her hard feelings and giver her dad a call.
The game takes place on a single map (Crowdette’s apartment and the surrounding hallway). The cartoonish art is lo-fi, weird, and goofy in a charming way (I’m especially fond of Crowdette’s emotive facial expressions and the psychedelic laughing mouths backdrop in one of the boss battles); and the music by emamouse is awesome. The dialog in which Crowdette blames herself for her mother’s death is a little hard to follow, and there is also some unclear language in the ending cutscenes; otherwise the writing is generally good, and the game’s meta-concept about fighting stressors to conquer depression is its strongest feature.
Combat is very fast, which is most apparent at low levels when Crowdette is especially vulnerable. Enemies can make quick work of her if she doesn’t get them first. It’s hard to guess which attack is going to work on which enemy, and pausing to think can lead to a swift death. Fortunately Crowdette respawns in her apartment, albeit with reduced HP and MP. It took me a while (about 40 minutes of dying and restarting) to get the hang of this game because Crowdette is very weak at first, and it’s quite easy to reach the hallway without first encountering the lower level enemies in her room. The trick is to grind low level enemies, level up, and gear up before taking on the tougher baddies outside. Crowdette has elemental attacks as well as buffs, debuffs, and healing skills, most of which are necessary to get through the somewhat challenging boss fights. However once she has gained a few levels, most random encounters are smooth sailing. It took me just over 1 hour to reach an ending once I figured out how to approach the game, and Crowdette was at level 11.
Birdcaged is a short, complete adventure with a good concept, above-average writing, appropriate art, and decent combat. It’s a strong game for something so small-scale, and with a little more balancing and proofreading it could polish up into something even better.
...spake The Lord Thy God.