Fledgling Heroes Review – A Fledgling Gem
The hustle and bustle of PAX is always hard to navigate, and in the always pulsing Indie Rising area, it’s equally as hard, but in my journey through the section at PAX AUS 2018, I happened upon a young, raw title called Fledgling Heroes. Being demoed as a mobile title I was instantly struck by the promise that the game showed. A simple one touch flier, similar to the Flappy Bird’s and Tiny Wings’ of the world, Fledgling Heroes looked to mould that very successful formula into a more defined shape. After launching on Apple Arcade several months ago, and now on the Nintendo Switch, have the team at Subtle Boom been able to create a not-so-subtle smash?
With the foundations of an endless flyer underpinning the experiences, Fledgling Heroes then narrows the concept to self-contained levels, with the same addictive mechanic that makes Tiny Wings and Flappy Bird so appealing. Far more challenging than those inspirations though, Fledgling Heroes asks a bit of the player, navigating tight passageways, avoiding falling Stalactites, take out your lizard (or other) attackers, and navigate survive until the end of the (usually ~1 minute long) level to safety having completed as many objectives as possible. The game isn’t brutal, but demands your full attention to slide through unscathed, and the optional extra objectives add an extra temptation and opportunity for failure. The game isn’t unfair, it’s quite predictable, but the carrots are dangled in just the right places, and just the right times to divide your attention and trigger failure; without the games checkpointing system it might get too much for some, but these mid-level markers, are the saving grace we all need when things get a bit hairy.
To progress through the overworld and ultimately to the end of each world players will need to collect enough golden feathers; these feathers are unlocked upon the completion of levels, for rescuing trapped animals, eliminating a certain number of enemies, or just for straying from the beaten path. Completionists will get extra fun for chasing everything down, but even ticking a single extra objective per level will all-but guarantee you the ability to progress when these progression barriers emerge. Bookending the worlds are longer, grander survival levels against a magnificent beast who adds an extra layer of complexity to the gameplay.
One of the several things that help Fledgling Heroes stand out against its peers is the level creator. On top of the golden feathers, there are also a host of other collectables to find in each level, and when collected these unlock more objects to use in the level creation mode. It’s no LittleBigPlanet or Dreams, but the feature set is impressive and gives players a large degree of scope to create whatever they like, until their heart’s content.
Another important aspect to the game is its visual aesthetic. Fledgling Heroes is a striking game to look at, the character designs for the various birds are sensational (and highly customisable), the levels elaborate, and highly detailed, while the musical backing the action is wonderfully whimsical and charming.
Boasting several dozen levels and a tonne of replay value thanks to smartly implemented optional objectives and a fun UGC mode, Fledgling Heroes will deliver fun to gamers of all levels of experience, whilst also give gamers of different tastes something they too can enjoy. There might be an element of bloat to the number of levels present, but when they’re as fun to play as they are, it’s hard to complain too much.
Fledgling Heroes was reviewed on the Nintendo Switch with code kindly supplied by the Developer.