It’s amazing to see what experimentation can happen with devices as open and creative as touchscreen tablets and phones. In one game, you could be battling angry robots, while in the next you could be tending to a magical garden. Crow is the type of game that only seems possible on this type of device with such a curious gaming audience. This game tries new things, explores old genres, and presents storytelling from a fresh perspective.
Crow– no relation to the comic book character or films– relies heavily on story. There is a narrator constantly feeding the titular crow information as the bird flies through a dark, dreary land of monsters and gods. As the crow, you seem to do the bidding of a malevolent master who needs you to take down various other powerful creatures. All of this is explained through in-game text. If our description of the story seems lacking in detail, that is because the game throws you into this world and story with almost no background. You must simply pick up and learn on the fly.
Should’ve worn my scratch-proof chain mail.
The game plays in two different modes. The first is a discovery mode, in which you fly high overhead above a landscape and must find collectible jewels which give you points and abilities, or you must discover the next part in the story. All of this is accomplished by holding a finger in place on your screen and guiding the crow left or right. By holding your finger over a shadowy part of the map, you will uncover jewels or checkpoints.
The other game mode involves battle. Once you have found the next checkpoint, you are introduced to your enemy. Your crow will then swoop to a smaller map, and you must again guide him throughout the level. This flight is much more restricted than the last, playing more like an on-rails shooter, but you can move to avoid attacks or gain health crystals. Your attacker may be a bird like yourself or may be a stationary villain, like a scarecrow or set of evil trees. To attack, you must have full health. Once you are at 100%, you can either draw a line across your enemy, effectively slashing him, or draw a circle around your crow to shield it. In order to attack, you must always wait for your enemy to show his eyes. As the game reminds us, eyes are the window to the soul.
Birds have excellent night vision.
Each battle plays out like a boss battle, and at the end of each, you are awarded points based on how well you slayed the villain and if you uncovered any hidden collectibles. At first, you may not even realize there are hidden items, and once the game tells you that you failed to collect them, you may ask yourself how to collect them in the first place. This is one of our biggest gripes with Crow. There’s a lot to do, but no explanation of how to do it. You must also make moral decisions in the game, but there is no explanation of how these decisions affect the game.
Much like Infinity Blade, Crow is a gorgeous game with a rich world. You will enjoy simply flying around the environments, and some of the character designs are fantastic to look at. However, because of the game’s restrictive movement, you won’t be able to do everything you want to. At times, you’ll see something curious in the distance, but your limited control of your crow’s flight won’t put your path anywhere near that interesting item.
Crow is clearly a game rich in detail, but it may be too rich. The story is often too confusing to comprehend, and, with no tutorial or instruction, figuring out the mechanics of the game boils down to trial-and-error. This is a game that would be fun to play around Halloween, but is often a confusing experience that leaves us feeling as though we missed the first chapter of a novel.