Almost nothing about Aviary Attorney is original. The character art is lifted directly from famed anthropomorphic French artist, JJ Grandville. The soundtrack belongs to prolific composer Camille Saint-Saëns. The background themselves are publicly available lithographs of Parisian landscapes. Hell, even the gameplay is essentially just Phoenix Wright with a Hatoful Boyfriend skin covering it from head to toe. Yet despite all the novelty involved in birds solving court cases with period appropriate music in the background, Sketchy Logic’s Aviary Attorney stands above as one of the best visual novels I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing.
In Aviary Attorney, you play as JayJay Falcon, a freelance lawyer down on his luck that just also happens to be… Well, a falcon. Joined by Falcon is his trust assistant, Sparrowson. Are you sensing a pattern here? As Falcon, you will travel across 1842 Paris with Sparrowson in search of clues and leads that will help you on the various cases you’ll encounter. The cases themselves aren’t vastly different. Each of the four cases you act as defense in are all murder trials, albeit with varying circumstances. Though, it’s difficult to fault a game when it purposefully makes the entire journey exciting.
The investigations themselves are actually quite enjoyable as well. Generally, you’re given a certain amount of time until trial in which you must discover as much evidence to help your case as you can. It actually gets fairly tricky as one too many mistakes during your investigation can and will ruin your case. Though, you are never given a fail state, so to speak. The game just continues, usually mocking you for making mistakes with whatever horrible outcome came as a result from your poor casework. It’s actually really amazing how the game can put anyone with the hubris to think they’ve done everything perfectly in their place when it turns out they’re wrong. Yes, there is an “optimal route” to get a perfect ending. But, I found it more fun just to play the game normally.
If you hadn’t noticed by the character names, Aviary Attorney likes its puns. At any and every opportunity, this game will have your sides splitting with its humor. Even if you’re someone who tends to roll your eyes at puns, there’s still plenty to find hilarious in the game. Falcon and Sparrowson’s own ineptitude kept my face in a perpetual smile through most of the game. The two essentially bumble into every clue, and more or less fake their way through every situation. Despite their shallow, punny surface, it was a thrill and a pleasure to get to know the two protagonists, and many of the other characters.
However, this humorous tone isn’t all you’ll find throughout the game. As mentioned, the story changes significantly depending on how you handle cases. As someone who has never played a Phoenix Wright game, and having zero experience in games like this, I ended up with one of the sadder stories of a failing lawyer. Without spoiling too much, I saw the fall of Falcon as he slowly became an alcoholic fool, unable to perform in court without sounding like a moron to his peers. My personal story held a certain sad yet powerful narrative that really stuck with me as I played. I found myself rooting for Falcon in the end when he was given a last chance at redemption after all the tumultuous times I’d put him through. I imagine others will have different experiences in the end game. With a 3 – 4 hour run time, it’s not really a chore to go through the game with different routes and conversation choices either.
While Aviary Attorney may not be the most original piece of media on the surface, deep down it is easily one of the most enjoyable games of the year so far. The game itself is a compliment to the assets it uses. Maybe there are a few cringe worthy puns here or there, but ultimately I think this game is worthwhile to anyone who gets a chance to play it.
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