Aviary Attorney is an adventure game from Sketchy Logic. While the aesthetic may look unique, the developers are not shy about letting gamers know they took inspiration from the art of J. J. Grandville. Of course, this is not the only source of inspiration for this game. They have combined this style of art with the gameplay of popular detective games and a historical setting. While the game may not be wholly unique, together these elements create something that really stands out.
*Game purchased by reviewer.
Aviary Attorney takes place in France during the reign of King Louis-Philippe. Of course, this is an alternate France where all people are animals, both literally and sometimes figuratively. This game tells the tale of Jayjay Falcon the lawyer and his assistant Sparrowson. At first, the duo merely takes on legal cases and attempts to solve murders to clear their client of all charges. However, as the story goes on, they find themselves getting wrapped in the politics of the era. The spirit of revolution is in the air; a class war looms on the horizon.
Along the way, we get to see a large cast of recurring characters, learn about them, and watch them grow. These people also remember choices that the player makes which can affect dialogue down the line. Interestingly, it is possible to continue the story after losing a trial. There are also multiple endings to this story, though only one scene influences which the player gets. Still, this makes it easy to view the others once one is finished. Each of these endings last for a few in-game days and include their own unique trials.
While this game covers some serious matters and grey morality, much of the writing is silly. Players can expect plenty of puns. Characters also have a habit of not meeting the expectations of others. Many of these gags are kind of weak. Still, there are a few good jokes in there and those that miss their mark are not too obnoxious.
It is obvious that the developers are fans of the genre. In addition to following the formula of a certain series and even sneaking in a few references, the writing here addresses some common concerns. For example, perjury and the legality of stolen evidence come up in the first act. They have taken elements of a successful franchise and improved upon them. This effort has resulted in a title that rivals and possibly surpasses its greatest competition.
The art for Aviary Attorney certainly is eye-catching. While not exactly black and white, the use of only two colours gives the game a serious, classic feel. The faded yellow also gives the impression of old paper, strengthening the vintage appearance of the game. Of course, the unusual character designs stand out as well. Not only do they have animal heads, their wardrobe and posture help mimic the image of those creatures. There are quite a lot of details visible both in the backgrounds and the cast, and it all looks fantastic.
There are a few animations in the game. Characters move their mouths as the speak and they are blink periodically whenever they are on the screen. These blinking animations are actually different for each member of the cast, and each one fits the animal. They also move about the screen from time to time. In my time with the game, I never experienced any technical issues, concerning the animations or otherwise.
Not only does Aviary Attorney feature classy visuals, it also has music to match. There are quite a few tracks in the game and every one of them sounds classical. Players can expect to hear plenty of piano and orchestral pieces. However, these songs do not play constantly. Much of the game lacks these backing tracks which only seem to accompany specific characters and emphasize the mood in certain situations. Of course, this helps keep the music from overshadowing the story and gameplay, so it is not all bad.
This game does not have any voice acting, but characters do make sound when they speak. Every animal in the cast has a unique set of blips and bloops that play during their dialogue. These sounds even play with a unique cadence for each character. While perhaps not the most enjoyable method of portraying speech, this system is about as inoffensive as they get.
When playing Aviary Attorney, most of the player’s time will be spent reading. However, unlike most visual novels, this title lacks auto-forward and skip functions. It does not have a text log either. There is an option in the menu that seems like a save anywhere system. However, all progress since the last auto-save is lost when using it.
During investigations, the birds gather most of their evidence by questioning everyone they can find. This involves picking locations and dialogue options. Every now and then, the team will search an area for clues. These sections consist of standard point and click gameplay. When the cursor hovers over an item of interest, a border appears. This makes it easy to determine whether or not there are things around to inspect. Occasionally, people will ask for money in exchange for their cooperation. Not everything they offer is actually of use, so players will need to decide when to open their wallets. The team earns most of their cash through successful trials and games of blackjack at the local tavern.
There is a time management system in the game. Players will only have so many days before a trial to gather information and prepare their case. Visiting relevant locations consumes a full day, though time will not advance until they leave. Once the time limit is up, the trial will start whether the player is ready or not. It is entirely possible to arrive at the courthouse without key evidence. Still, even if the jury finds the defendant guilty, the game will carry on. Some tasks have multiple solutions and there are usually a few extra days available, so this aspect of the game is somewhat forgiving. The game also includes an option to return to any day in the main menu, so getting a perfect run is not too much trouble.
While at trial, the player will need to cross examine witnesses. This involves selecting relevant statements in underlined text and asking the right questions. Should the player waste the court’s time pursuing irrelevant information, they risk angering the jury. When the player picks the correct line of reasoning, they will often have to present evidence to support their theory. As with the investigations, this is as simple as a single click. Unlike some other games, not every piece of evidence has its place in trials. Still, the reasoning in this game is sound and figuring out what to do during trial is never too difficult.
I enjoyed Aviary Attorney far more than I expected to. The game can be silly, but it also has a decent plot full of interesting themes. Its gameplay also has a few twists that make things a bit more interesting than other adventure games. Of course, the art is not only eye-catching but also looks rather nice upon closer inspection. This is a title that I feel confident in recommending to any fan of the genre as well as anyone looking to get into it.