In a franchise with more sequels than they know what to do with, Angry Birds Journey does the most to keep things as simple as possible. All of the birds and piggies you know and love return, leaving piles of cartoon carnage in their wake. Developers over at Rovio have taken the now-classic formula of the Angry Birds games and diluted it to its simplest form yet. While this isn’t an outright horrible thing, Angry Birds Journey on Android is far from revolutionary.
It’s Been A While
First and foremost, I want to clarify that I have not played an Angry Birds game in a long time. I was a huge fan of the series as a kid. I would nervously ask friends to play the original on their iPod Touch’s whenever I saw them playing. Once I had a smart device of my own, I put a lot of time into the original release and the Star Wars sequel. These were accessible puzzle games with silly sound effects- what more could you want with the advent of touch screens?
All of that is to say that this is my first encounter with these birds in a long time. The newer entries in the series seem interesting, but haven’t caught my attention in the same way. So, I hope to frame this review as a more objective venture in just looking at the game as it is on its own. However, I can officially report that these birds aren’t quite as angry as I remember them.
A Slingin’ Journey
The core premise hasn’t changed much from the original game. An everlasting feud between clans of birds and pigs has moved to some forgotten region of their shared island. Using a slingshot, you fire the birds across the screen, destroying structures protecting the pigs and hiding other avian allies. Each level breaks up into several formations of these structures and completing each course unlocks better power-ups.
Rounding out the core gameplay is the variety of birds you both play and seek to free from your enemies. Five main species randomly rotate in your slingshot with varying effects such as exploding, diving straight down, et cetera. Releasing the birds is slightly more complicated than just knock down walls, though. Different birds require specific means of freedom, such as having to touch the sky or floor first. As a result, there is a minimal yet satisfying amount of variety in required tactics. Even though the levels aren’t particularly difficult, it never quite feels like you’re on autopilot. However, there ARE over 250 different courses—with more to launch soon—so that may not always be the case.
While the gameplay is solid and addicting, Angry Birds Journey suffers from staleness. While the cartoonish design is cute, it’s not long before every level looks very much the same. Upon launching the game, there are no cutscenes or animations. Players drop into a pretty mundane-looking menu with a few options and an illustration of a beach. You later learn that level completion will unlock new illustrations, but this is a measly reward.
Furthermore, power-ups are varied but often make levels far easier than they need to be. For example, one grows flowers all over the field, destroying the foundations of most obstacles. Another unleashes legions of rubber ducks, doing most of the strategic damage for you. The difficulty overall feels pretty much the same throughout without any escalation in challenge. On its own, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but disinterest will set in for most adult players. However, younger players are more likely to embrace the consistent, low-level degree of challenge.
All in all, Angry Birds Journey is a pretty fun time. The addictive gameplay is as good as it gets and the sheer number of levels provides secure longevity. Kids and pre-teens will enjoy the silly characters and light puzzle mechanics, even if older gamers are unamused. Angry Birds is bound to stay within the pop culture lexicon for some time, and every entry won’t be revolutionary. For those who want more of the same, look no further! Sometimes that’s all anyone really wants.
Is It Hardcore?
For the Kiddos, Yeah
Angry Birds Journey simplifies the series’ formula, bringing a few new ideas, but mainly relies on what’s come before. The addictive action of slinging birds at pigs is fun for a time, but some players may not find the puzzle challenge they crave.