Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Give a chicken a gun and he'll start a rampage against a penguin dictatorship. Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken puts you in the role of an angry bird who seeks justice and, most importantly, revenge. Set in the colorful city of Albatropolis, Rocketbirds tells the story of a Hardboiled Chicken who attempts to overthrow the Penguin regime ruling over the continent, commanded by a shady penguin called Putzki.
Although Rocketbirds does not heavily rely on its plot, being 2D platformer, a good story is not something I would have expected from the game in the first place. Regardless, from time to time the game throws some flashbacks at you, giving some exposure of what lead the Hardboiled Chicken to the quite justified enraged state he is on. Voice acting is pretty much not there, excepting the rare occasions when the fowl hero speaks. Rock band New World Revolution is in charge of the music, whether it's during the cut-scenes or in the middle of a gunfight, the soundtrack is pretty much fitting. There are collectibles to be found in the form of some signs, but I could not find what that would unlock, other than Steam achievements themselves.
For now let's focus on the gameplay, since I need to say I thought Rocketbirds would be Shank with birds instead of unruly mercenaries, and admittedly I was wrong. Rocketbirds feels distinct to other platform games in many ways. The visuals are pretty engaging, from the botanical outsides of Albatropolis to the deep sewers beneath the ground, with a mixed contrast of a surreal totalitarian reality and the feeling of despair, I always felt like I was the Hardboiled Chicken. There's only Normal and Hard difficulties, and at least on Hard, the game is decently challenging, without crossing the slim borderline of being ridiculously tough. I did not unlock anything along the lines of Extreme or Hardboiled new difficulties as I would have expected, so I was pretty much stuck with the standard ones. Rockerbids plays fairly easily, with very basic controls, and I mean very much basic. Shooting straight and jumping is the most complex moves you can pull off, no pointing your gun to the sky or fancy mid-air shoots. You can however crouch, which will help avoid some fire from standing enemies, until they cleverly think of crouching as well. AI is not brilliant either, not even on Hard difficulty. The only troublesome parts I really found were when being greatly outnumbered by those vicious penguins.
There's no deep character customization, or any for that matter. You find a variety of weapons as you progress through the game, but you have a limited space of three slots for weapons, and two for projectiles. Each type of weapon found replaces the previous one, so you'll have the trusty Pistol, and at some point a more powerful arm namely a Shotgun and a rapid fire gun, but once you find the one that fits more your play style, the most likely scenario is you will not use another type of gun, or at least I know I did. Ammunition is shared between your weaponry, and each weapon consumes ammo in a different rate. Each downed foe, be it penguin or chicken, will drop some ammo to make for the effort spent.
Aside from the gunplay, Rocketbirds feature some mild puzzle elements, which emphasize as you go through. One useful trick I could take advantage of is mind controlling. "Brain bugs", found somewhat in the beginning of the game allow you to take control of an unaware penguins, and walk safely among the enemy lines, and either start fire from their backs or explore the level and see what's in store for you. Some puzzles are as easy as getting a certified card and passing through Personnel Only rooms, whereas some others required me to take control of a hostile, push an otherwise unreachable crate to where Hardboiled is, and then continue my path through. My favorite bit of mind controlling is the ability to force enemies commit suicide. Rocketbirds wears a dark humour, and at the same time some refreshing comedic dialogues.
The game is called Rocketbirds for a reason, and the reason is the Jetpack levels. It's an interesting twist to the main foot and shoot core of the game, and gives you the freedom a bird could ever have. Engaging sky fights make for a nice gameplay, and I have to say those were my favorite parts. Often involving saboutaging a propaganda zeppelin and taking care of ironically flying penguins, Jetpack fights are really enjoying.
There is a great deal of different opponents, like Riot Shielded penguins that will stop any coming fire from the front, so rolling back out of their sight gave me an advantage to backstab them, so to speak. Whilst annoying to take down the baddies, the variety of ways to play Rocketbirds is welcome, adding up to the replayability value of the game, considering there is little of it.
Rocketbirds features Co-op as well, but for the life of me I could not find anyone to join my struggle. Co-op changes things a bit, the main goal focusing in the rescue of the General's daughter. I swear I could not think of a plot more cliché than the mentioned. The same applies for the playable characters, a police uniformed chicken named Chief, a rambo looking bird by the name of Esteban, and all sorts of stereotypes you could imagine. There's just not enough people playing the game to find a partner and take on the Co-op campaign.
In spite of some issues like AI and stiff controls, New World Revolution tracks really did a fine job coupling with the shiny moments of Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken, and the puzzle mechanics are a nice change of pace, let alone the Jetpack action. For $10, the game offers roughly 6 to 7 hours of gameplay, which can be stretched by playing on both difficulties and playing some Co-op if you can find somebody else to play with.