I honestly believe that everyone should, at the very least, try Fugl. It’s an experience entirely unlike any other game I’ve played, and sucks you in to the joy of flight, exhilarating and relaxing all at the same time.
Yes, Fugl is largely without goal or direction, and does not hesitate to throw you into the deep end right from its first moments, but I kind of think that’s the point…
Developer: Team Fugl (Made up of Johan, Gorm, Marco and Martin)
Game Version: Final
Review Copy: Provided by the Developer
Interface: Mouse/Keyboard & Mouse/Controller
Available on Steam for 9.99 USD/9.99 Euro/6.99 GBP
Fugl is a meditative bird flying game. Feel the breeze under your wings as you glide serenely across wonderful landscapes, or kick up the excitement and soar down steep cliffs. With no set rules the free roaming gameplay let’s you discover the unspoilt beauty and secrets of the world at your own pace.
Fugl’s endless and ever changing world is a vast and unique voxel playground. It is procedurally generated yet carefully crafted, with diverse areas to explore. Discover hundreds of animals inhabitants, and absorbe their characteristics.
Fugl doesn’t make any steps to hold your hand or instruct you; you simply start the game and find yourself falling though the air as a bird. The controls are fairly straightforward, but you can, and probably will, find yourself stuck or frustrated should you crash into a tree or the ground.
Personally, I found this Guide from Steam User Legendary F3ather useful, and am including the graphic below. Take a look before diving in. I do think that Fugl could have done a little more in the form of a tutorial or instruction, and although I understand why it didn’t, that remains my major criticism of the game.
Fugl has no goal for you to fly towards. No collectibles to find, no side quests to complete, no strange narrative to uncover. And at first, this feels a bit odd. To be truly direction-less is a strange experience in a video game. Even games without a distinct purpose, something like sandbox survival game Astroneer, have very clear check boxes for you complete: Collect Resources, Build Building, Discover New Resources. Fugl just lets you…fly.
Which is how Fugl becomes something special and utterly unique. After you learn the controls and get over that initial bit of oddity, Fugl suddenly becomes something incredibly relaxing, calming, and zen-like. You are simply left to fly through the games different environments, soaking in the landscape and observing the myriad wildlife, both airborne and terrestrial.
I found myself sinking into Fugl, getting sucked in by this UI-less, nearly mechanic-less experience. There were moments of calm as I soared over lush green hillsides, moments of exhilaration as I bobbed and weaved through desert canyons, and moments of curiosity as I found myself flying through alien landscapes.
The game’s only real mechanic is you ability to “absorb” other animals if you get close enough to them. For the most part, this will apply to other birds: Fly close to a flock of starlings and you’ll become a starling. Fly through a flock of flamingos and you’ll become a flamingo.
Different birds have slightly different abilities: smaller birds are much more maneuverable, but loose altitude quickly, while larger birds can glide comfortably, but can’t make turns quite as quickly. You can absorb more than just birds. Landing on the ground can see you becoming a strange monkey-bird, or a snake-bird, which is surreal and flies about as well as you might expect. This mechanic is really the only thing in the game that gives you a semblance of a goal, and it is rather fun to explore, find new creatures, and see what a polar bear looks like as a bird form.
Fugl’s environments are absolutely wonderful and, for me, they are the real star of the game. The game’s various biomes, all procedurally generated in the game’s distinct voxel art style, each have their own character, and it was always a thrill to transition from one to another, cresting over a hill or making a sharp turn in a canyon only to be greeted by alpine hills, or snowy peaks, or something stranger.
Fugl is a game unlike any other, celebrating the freedom of flight, and relishing in it’s own lack of direction. While this might sound like a drawback, it’s the game’s greatest strength should , turning over a beautiful, unspoiled world to you to explore at your own pace, with no purpose other than to explore it. The game game perhaps could hold you hand a little bit more in the opening moments, but perhaps that would betray the game’s intent.