Songbird Symphony Review – Nintendo Switch

Developed By: Joysteak Studios

Published By: PQube

Reviewed By: Tyler Higgs

Thank you so much to PQube for providing a review code

Rhythm games are an interesting genre, because they can create an experience solely through music. I have always lacked rhythm, so much that it’s become a running gag within my circle of friends. I still try however to enjoy the rhythm genre, because I like to explore worlds that I’m less familiar with. I’ve tried everything from Guitar Hero on my Xbox 360, to VOEZ here on the Switch, but nothing truly resonated with me. Then I found Songbird Symphony.

Story

Songbird Symphony is all about a little bird named Birb. Birb lives in a world surrounded by music and a small village of peacocks. Birb loves to sing and dance, but what he wants most in this world is a family. Sadly, Birb is not like the peacocks he lives with. He’s different and he knows that. The sadness of not knowing who he is or who his parents are drives him to set out on an adventure.

Birb goes to the all knowing owl to see if he can help him find his family. The owl agrees to, but says it can only be done if Birb learns the special note/song from each of the different birds. By doing this they can amplify a unique artifact that will supposedly activate and show Birb where his parents are. Along the way he will meet many colorful feathered friends and foes along with learning many beautiful melodies. Eventually Birb may learn that everything is not how it seems.

Songbird Symphony is a story about being different. The ugly duckling, the black swan are both examples of what Birb’s story is about. It’s about the adventure of finding who you are, no matter what people say about you. It’s a story that I think will be compelling to many players. Maybe, it’s a little cheesy, but it’s done in such a compassionate way, I can’t help, but love it.

Gameplay

Songbird Symphony is very different from many other rhythm games. This is not a pure rhythm game. In actuality, it’s split between being a puzzle platformer and rhythm game.

The platforming sees you jumping and flying across a diversity of different locations. Most of the time you’ll be looking for ways to make it to the next location of one of the notes you need.

It’s not all about going along with the main story, however. In every location, there’s multiple music notes and feathers that can be obtained. Musical notes can be found by solving a miniature puzzle and creating music from it. For example, you can pull the lever to move a wall that separates two frogs from one another. Doing this will allow them to sing once more together earning you a music note.

Music notes can be used to unlock some barriers that require them. The game never really makes you go out of your way to collect them, however. You will most likely end up with more than is needed, and instead they act more as a fun side activity.

Throughout your explorations you can also find feathers. Feathers act as a collectible that when found are added to your journal. Once they’re added here you have to find the bird that the feather belongs to. By finding the owner of the feather some information about that bird will fill out in your journal. So, feathers essentially act as your bird encyclopedia. Again, this is another side activity that’s not required to be done, but adds even more charm to this nice little journey.

The rhythm mechanics are used for solving puzzles and for specific segments where you have to perform a song. After visiting every major location Birb will learn a new note he can use. This will flesh out his musical arsenal and allow him to access new platforms.

Every new area has music that plays along inside of it and you use the beat to move platforms. Your musical notes are each connected to a button on the Joy-Cons. To move certain platforms you’ll have to play specific notes to the beat of the music. This will act as one of the main components of solving puzzles.


The puzzles never really felt too difficult, but that’s okay, because they didn’t need to be. This is a very peaceful and charming title that doesn’t try to frustrate the player with puzzles. They’re simply there to add an extra layer of entertainment onto this already tightly knit package.

It’s hard to think about any of Songbird Symphony’s rhythm sequences, without remembering how phenomenal the soundtrack truly is. Every song essentially acts as its own level that after being completed will erect a gold statue where you can return to redo the song.

These rhythm sequences are absolutely fantastic and work so well. Often each new song will find a way to change up the already established rhythm formula. At first you will just have to hit the notes at the right time. Sounds easy enough, but then sometimes they will start to fade away, or you’ll have to hit them as they spin around in a circular motion.

Eventually you get to the point where you have to memorize a rhythm and play the notes back based on sheer memory. The later songs end up mixing together many of these different mechanics making every song feel like it built upon the last one.

I was truly amazed by the level of polish and work that went into every aspect of Songbird Symphony. From the platforming, to the light puzzle solving and the main aspect which is the rhythm sequences, there’s not a single thing here that feels like it doesn’t fit.

The songs are a perfect blend of difficulties, since it doesn’t matter how well you do to proceed with the story. For those who are completionist, however, going back and getting the highest rank on every song is no joke and will take a bit of time and practice.

Honestly, I’ve been very impressed this year by some amazing titles, but Songbird Symphony far exceeded my original expectations. The team over at Joyteak Studios really knew what they were doing here.

Extras

After you finish Songbird Symphony you unlock the Song Compendium. It gives you access to all the songs you played through and you can freely choose which ones you want to replay. It may seem like a small extra, but every song is absolutely terrific, so it was a treat to have access to all of them in one place.

Presentation

Honestly, where do I even begin with the Songbird Symphony’s phenomenal presentation. It’s not only the soundtrack that’s harmonizing, but also the visual design is nothing short of amazing. Every environment is so unique and blends its color palette along with little details to make them absolutely stunning.

This game might just win an award for having the best character designs, because I haven’t seen a game with such well designed characters in a while. No matter if it’s a simple common inhabitant or a unique character they all have their own personality and character to make them stand out. Not to mention their actual designs look fantastic and there’s truly no character design that I felt disappointed by.

The soundtrack is made up of 15 different songs each as elegantly and beautifully done as the previous. The range of different styles of music is great, but even still every song feels like it belongs. Although, the lyrics only scrolled across the screen while they played, I can’t help, but sing the songs around the house now. I think they’re stuck in my head (somebody help me…)

Technical Issues

Songbird Symphony was nearly perfect on the technical side, although i did have one minor issue. In a few of the different areas I experienced some small visual glitches which was quite odd as it didn’t start to happen until i was about half way through the game. It caused the screen to look as if it was tearing and made small pieces of the background look off. It wasn’t a major issue, but still worth mentioning in hopes it will be fixed later.

Summary

Titles like Songbird Symphony don’t come around all the time. So when they do, it’s important to make note of them. What I experienced was a memorable journey through the eyes of a little bird who wanted to find where he truly belonged. Take this whimsical yet serious experience and mix it with stunning visual and sound designs, tight platforming, puzzle solving and rhythm mechanics and you have one of the greatest indie games of 2019. I hope many experience Birb’s adventure, because it’s not one that, I will forget any time soon.

9/10

Pros

  • Amazing Blend of Different Gameplay Mechanics
  • Heartwarming Story
  • Stunning Visual Design
  • Phenomenal Soundtrack
  • Difficulty is Suitable For Newcomers & Veterans to The Rhythm Genre
  • Overall High Level of Polish

Cons

  • Some Visual Glitches in Certain Areas

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