[Review] Aviary Attorney: Definitive Edition – Nintendo Switch

Written by Kevin Orme
  • Developer: Vertical Reach
  • Publisher: Vertical Reach
  • Release Date: 30/01/2020
  • Price: $19.99 / £15.29
  • Review Code provided by Vertical Reach

CASE BRIEFING

Before I get started here, you all need to know something. I am telling you all to go and buy this game immediately. The rest of this review is me gushing about how great this game is and how you are going to love all of it. So that having been said, I now invite you to read about one of the greatest things I have ever played on my Switch.

Ahem.

THE GREAT CASES OF JAYJAY FALCON, ATTORNEY

I take you now to 1900’s France: a scene of the fanciest of French society complete with the bourgeois dukes and dames, Royalty and, of course, MURDER! You play the part of JayJay Falcon, an attorney tasked with defending the wrongfully accused. Along with your trusty assistant and best friend, Sparrowson, you both go about the city collecting evidence and interviewing citizens to get the entire picture of what has transpired in the case you are investigating. Effectively, if you’ve ever played any of the games in the Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney series you will feel right at home. However, the main structure of gameplay is about as far as that comparison goes. This is a unique experience that really sets this game apart from others in the same genre (Ok, it’s just Ace Attorney, but WORK WITH ME HERE)

ON THE WINGS OF TIME

The main distinction that gives Aviary Attorney its own place in the genre is the passage of time in every case. After the first case, you are given a period of time, usually a few days, to investigate specific areas for evidence as well as time to interrogate passers-by. However, this all takes place in an era where motor vehicles are not the norm, so a lot of the investigating takes place on foot. This means that as you investigate each area, it takes a full day to do so. Now, you might be thinking to yourself “That’s fine. I can find everything that I should need to in order to prove my client’s innocence. “This will be a cake walk!” I can tell you, from personal experience, that you are very wrong.

I have gone into nearly every trial in the game missing anywhere from one to FIVE pieces of evidence necessary to acquit my client. So, when I thought I was ready to go and that I could do no wrong – instead, I found out that a key witness was going to be hanged for a crime they did not commit and I was also now responsible for the deaths of their entire family. Less morbidly, in another case, I decided to break into a man’s house instead of waiting for him to get home. In doing so, the evidence I ended up uncovering in his home was inadmissible in court! THERE ARE CONSEQUENCES, PEOPLE! Which leads me to my next point…

CAWS AND EFFECT

It is a very real possibility that you will mess up and kill somebody that is innocent. I should know because I did it literally EVERY SINGLE TIME. In the first case, you have the opportunity to out a witness who has been stealing silverware from the Master of the House where she works right after you finish getting information from her at the scene of the crime. She remembers that when you talk to her in the next case. Choices that you make every day of your jaunting about France can directly impact your relationships with people in town as well as how successful you are when the day of the trial comes up. It’s a marvelous addition to the entire experience, especially where after you inevitably screw everything up, you can reload specific moments of the events leading up to the end and redo them the right way. It’s almost like getting all the evidence is a puzzle unto itself.

Unlike the Ace Attorney series where you are kind of railroaded into having everything before you go to trial, this makes every action that you choose to do have that much more weight to it. Personally, as frustrating as it is the first time that you are missing a key piece of evidence in the crucial moment where you need it, I love the payoff when you know that you found everything that you need and you grin from ear to ear as all of the pieces fall into place. There’s nothing like it.

A PARLIAMENT OF OWLS

An interesting addition as well is what would be the equivalent to a health meter in the court cases. In the Ace Attorney games, you either had markers that would be depleted every time you presented the wrong evidence or a meter that would keep track of your penalties. In Aviary Attorney you have the jury that responds to events in the case as it unfolds. If you mess up when presenting the wrong evidence to prove your claim, the camera will pan to the jury and they will begin to doubt your ability. However, if you do well, they will begin to believe in your client’s innocence. It’s a nice touch that adds to a feeling of progress and success in the game. Also, one of the jurors is a Hippopotamus and I just think that needs to be said.

PRETTY AS A PEACOCK

Now that I’ve spent some time talking about some of the great mechanics of this game, I need to talk about how this game LOOKS. As you have probably gathered from the screenshots that have accompanied this review, you’ve probably noticed that this game looks pretty different from anything else you’ve seen. The fine folks over at Vertical Reach decided that this game needed to be done in the style of classic Etchings, which is such a great idea, really. Sure, some of you folks out there might be asking “Where’s the color? This looks like it’s all old-time-y!” and my response is, “Yeah. That’s the point!” The art style fits so perfectly with the time period and, honestly, the feel for the whole game. If the characters or the game world looked any different, it would have lacked a great deal of what makes it special. If this game were just a Sherlock Holmes-esque series of mysteries to solve with some courtroom sequences mixed in, this wouldn’t be anything to write home about. However, with the inclusion of the special art style, mixed with the fabulous character designs of the anthropomorphic characters this game is marvelous to experience. Seriously, kudos to the entire design team. I love it.

CAN’T STOP RAVEN ABOUT THESE JOKES

The last bit I want to talk about is how dang funny this game is. Now, I have to come clean on a bit of this, but I found out through a tweet from the developer that there’s a choice you can make very early in the game that will give you a solid understanding of the humor that it has to offer. When the game starts, you are informed that a duchess has been accused of murder when you receive a letter explaining the whole situation. Your assistant, Sparrowson, asks you if you are going to do anything about it. Your options are simply Yes or No. If you choose ‘No’, you explain that these things tend to work themselves out AND YOU START PLAYING CARDS instead of taking the case on. I don’t know about you, but that’s hilarious!

There’s a moment when you enter a library in the second case where you are asked what kind of books you like to read and the responses that you can give are “I prefer the classics”, “I prefer modern authors” and “Reading is for squares”, which might actually be my favorite answer in the entirety of video games. The other great comedy moments are actually too often to talk about here. I cannot even begin to tell you how many screenshots I have taken of absolute perfect moments of comedy in this game. It’s masterful in its writing and I cannot recommend it enough.

THE FINAL VERDICT

If I haven’t been clear enough by now, you need to go and buy this game immediately. Especially if you love the Ace Attorney series of games. I love it. I love everything about this game. I hope you do too.

Pros

  • Hilarious
  • Intriguing Story
  • Fabulous art style
  • Good challenge

Cons

  • I cannot give this a 7/5
  • Feeling of helplessness when you’ve done everything you can and bad things still happen
  • It’s over too soon.

Verdict

Aviary Attorney is amazing and I love it. All of it. It took everything I loved about the Phoenix Wright and made it special in their own way. I cannot recommend this game more than I already have.

Score 5/5

…(but really 7/5)

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