Aviary Attorney: Hold court in this Ace adventure. - Games Weekly

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Thursday, April 30, 2015

Aviary Attorney: Hold court in this Ace adventure.

I’m at Rezzed, exploring the cramped oddities packed into the show’s Leftfield Collection. There are weird puzzle games, eccentric peripherals and many, many roguelikes. There’s a coffin on the floor, which tantalisingly offers an “immersive coffin experience”. It’s about as indie as you can get in here. Given the originality on show, standing out is an achievement. Aviary Attorney does stand out, partly because it looks beautiful, but also because it feels reassuringly familiar.

If you’ve played Capcom’s long-running Ace Attorney series, you’ll know what to expect from Aviary Attorney. Look past the presentation a cast of anthropomorphic animals and art sourced from a 19th century caricaturist and it’s a game in which you play a defence attorney tasked with proving his client’s innocence. As in Ace Attorney , the game uses a visual novel framework and has you jump between locations,interviewing witnesses and searching for clues. As in Ace Attorney, each case ends in a courtroom where you cross-examine the prosecution’s witness, presenting evidence to reveal their lies and logical fallacies.

In Aviary Attorney, you play as Monsieur Jayjay Falcon, who is a bird. In the demo build, he and his assistant Sparrowson also a bird take a case on behalf of Lady Caterline. A cat. The game is set in Paris in 1848 and follows Falcon as he sticks his beak into the high-society of the animal kingdom. Caterline is the daughter of a rail baron and is accused of murdering one of her father’s business partners at an aristocratic dinner party. The only evidence is a witness who sees her standing over the victim with bloodied paws.
You’re only ever a few lines of dialogue away from Sparrowson making an egg joke
That the game’s cast are all animals is important to the plot, and to the writing. For one thing, it’s filled with puns just bad enough to be good. You’re only ever a few lines of dialogue away from Sparrowson making an egg joke. More than that, the case itself hinges on the animals acting like animals. In court, the prosecution argues that Caterline’s bloodied paws are proof of her guilt. Falcon fires back with evidence gathered at the scene. The guests had been served bloodied meat, which Caterline had ripped into with feline relish.

There’s a danger in having each character display their animalistic traits. In Caterline’s case, sidekick Sparrowson makes it clear which specific assumptions are worth questioning. From there, it’s a short leap to realising the source of the blood. But as cases become more complex, their solutions could require more illogical deductions. It’s also difficult to know how much  Aviary Attorney  will be able to progress from  Ace Attorney ’s increasingly stale formula. Maybe it doesn’t matter. Aviary Attorney  has raised nearly £19,000 through Kickstarter, proving there’s an audience for a quality PC lawyer-’em-up.

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