Fledgling Heroes | PAX AUS 2018 Preview
by Dylan Blight
Fledgling Heroes, a side-scroller from developer Subtle Boom was my favourite game I played at PAX Australia 2018 and the game I most wanted to keep playing after getting my hands on.
You play as a variety of different birds including a Macaw named Biscuit who’s straight out of a pirate film; the very cute Penny the Penguin who swims underwater dodging jellyfish and other sea life; Lucky the Qual who is about running and jumping over enemies and obstacles; and Whisper the Owl who glides high in the sky with much eloquence.
Controls are simple, you tap the screen (potentially button on Nintendo Switch, but I played on an iPhone) to send any of the birds upwards and don’t tap to let them fall as they keep moving through the levels. Simple. Each bird controls slightly different though and the difference between flying, swimming and running on land was very noticeable. In the air as Biscuit, it felt the most even and smooth, with Whisper flying in longer glides and needing more allowance for when to drop altitude to make it between objects. Penny was my favourite and I usually hate water levels, but they are by far the cutest of the bunch and that’s a win. Lucky has the biggest change in pace though as they’re a lot faster than the other birds and feels the most like playing Sonic out of the bunch — minus the loops and spins of course.
The demo I played quickly gave you a chance to experience every bird before giving you back Penny and having you face off against a dragon underwater. And by face-off I mean: try not to get hit by and make it to the end of the level safely. It took me several tries and I thought I was going to run out of lives but I managed to pull it off after memorising the level and planning out my strategy; which is what the game is all about really, figuring out where you failed and remembering to dodge up or drop lower faster next time. It’s this memory and reaction-speed game that has an addictive hook to keep you playing.
What helps Fledgling Heroes really stand out from the crowd though was its wonderful character designs and vibrant worlds. Even on the small iPhone screen, the levels were popping with colour and flavour. The enemies weren’t simple creatures in your way either, there were pirate lizards swinging swords or even lizards that appears to be wizards (words) among the jellyfish and other less characteristic enemies in the way. All these things making Fledgling Heroes look like a Saturday morning cartoon in your hands.
I didn’t get to try it out myself but a level editor is also going to be in the full game and I was told at the PAX that the levels in the game were being built from the editor itself.
I can’t wait to get Fledgling Heroes back in my hands and to see what’s in-store for Biscuit, Penny, Lucky and Whisper, my new favourite group of birds.