It may be difficult to find time to complete a video game, especially if you only have a few hours a week to play. In our biweekly column Short Play we suggest video games that can be started and ended in a weekend.
I've written about a number of weird games for Short Play, but BirdGut BirdGut ] can have the strangest premise so far. It's about a disabled bee that is kicked out of the hive after birth. The bee manages to get through the whole world, despite not being able to fly, but eventually it is eaten by a bird. It turns out that the bird does not eat insects for nourishment, but rather to brainwash them into mindless slaves that help to operate and maintain machinery inside the bird that keeps it alive. Because of the bent leg position, the brainwashing machine is not correctly implanted. The result is that you can move freely in the bird to find a way out.
The game's 2D puzzle platform game is quite simple; The bee can mainly just walk around, jump and fall autumn thanks to its wings. But actually the flight bird is not an easy task. The puzzle on each level keeps things challenging as it finds ways to create new mechanics without complicating the gameplay beyond moving and jumping. You may need to find fuel that you have to push back to your ship to get it moving, or lasers that need to be angled just right to open a door properly. In this way, it makes the gameplay concentrated as opposed to simple.
It is perhaps most interesting about the game, but is the feeling of the place the levels have. It reminds me a lot Hollow Knight (and not just because both are wrong) as each area feels clear and says a lot about what the world inside this bird is. As you make your way through the bird, you find that mistakes don't just work all the time, but there are real homes, including apartment blocks. You send bugs mining or transporting materials, but also buildings and police. It's a bad civilization of brainwashed, enslaved bugs, but it's more of a society than you expect to find.
Unfortunately, the second last area of the game ignores much that makes it very good. It adds a brand new shooting mechanic, along with a new mouse control for firing. Up to this point, the entire game can be played on just one keyboard; In fact, the default control scheme is set up so you can play it pretty much with just your left hand. I remapped this when I played so that I could control movement with one hand and everything else with the other, to make the platform easier. But this new mechanic requires the use of the mouse, which meant I had to go back to the standard form so I could move and jump while aiming and shooting with the mouse.
This was annoying, but less a problem than the enemy encounters requiring precision with the shooter mechanic that you don't really have enough time to properly learn. The time between shots feels particularly long in terms of how enemies move and how often they look, often missing a shot to get an enemy to beat you and then you have to start the section again. It's a frustrating part to a game that at this point is not particularly frustrating, largely thanks to frequent checkups. Unfortunately, while it is useful for the platform section, it doesn't do much for the shooting.
That said, it's a pain, it's not a deal-breaker to recommend BirdGut ; The last paragraph only adds a little more time to a game that takes at least two hours to complete. BirdGut is a fascinating blend of simple controls and very strange situations.
BirdGut was created by Micah Boursier. You can get it on Steam for free (Windows and Mac OS). It takes about two to three hours to complete.