Every now and again a game comes along that you simply don’t expect. I have owned — or rather, my daughter has owned — a Nintendo Switch for about two years. In all the time she’s had it, I’ve been passively interested in watching her play and actively interested in seeing the wide array of games that have been released for it. However, in all that time, I have never once picked it up to actually play a game, that is, until the arrival of a Switch code for Sketchy Logic’s Aviary Attorney. Something about the art style caught my eye and when I learned that it is accompanied by music from one of my favorite composers, Charles-Camille Saint-Saëns, I was sold. This is our Aviary Attorney review for Nintendo Switch.
There is no question that the game is inspired by the Phoenix Wright series and that is a huge compliment, particularly if you’re a fan of procedural investigative legal games. In this particular case, you take on the role of Jayjay Falcon, a neophyte attorney in Paris, who is looking to make a name — and some cash — for himself. His chirpy assistant, Sparrowson, is always by his side as the two investigate a variety of crimes.
Before diving into gameplay, I want to talk about the quality of writing in Aviary Attorney. Sparrowson is a standout character in gaming. He’s not only informative and often more intuitive than his partner, but he is also laugh-out-loud funny. His one-liners and overly emotional outbursts are some of the funniest things I’ve ever experienced in a game and I genuinely found myself chuckling more than a few times.
The game is split into two distinct parts: Investigation and the court trial itself. In the investigative stage, players are presented with a case that at first blush seems to have a predetermined outcome. It is up to Falcon and Sparrowson to prove otherwise. In the first chapter, for example, a feline socialite has been accused of murder. Once the pair have learned the basics of the case, the city map opens up with a number of locations to visit and characters to speak to, each with their own interpretation of the events. There are different ways to approach some witnesses. Apply too heavy a hand when asking questions, and the witness may offer bad information or rebel against the tone of the questions. This can have serious consequences on the subsequent trial, so it’s wise to truly consider what you’re asking.
In addition, there is evidence to collect as the pair meander through a given location. However, it is important to keep tabs on the calendar. Each case has a finite number of days available for investigation before the courtroom drama begins. Each location visited is a full day’s job, so be mindful!
Once evidence is collected and witnesses are interviewed, the game takes off for the courtroom. There the prosecution calls witnesses, asks their questions, and then it is Jayjay’s turn to shine. Players get to select from a number of phrases of interest in order to delve for more information. Opening up the bag of evidence collected can sometimes turn a witness into a suspect if things are done correctly. However, it’s not as straightforward as it may seem. In my first case, for instance, Jayjay was such a brilliant attorney that he ended up convicting an innocent lion (all characters are animals, by the way!) who was sent to prison. His client, a feline socialite, came by the offices later in the day to gloat about literally getting away with murder, something that took a heavy toll on Jayjay. The game took a dark turn as he disappeared for several days and was found in a drunken stupor by Sparrowson. Continued “failures” in the courtroom take Jayjay to very dark places. The game is rather short, however, so it is easy to go back and replay things with different dialog/investigative options to change the poor bird’s outcome.
That’s not the only way that “reality” has a way of poking its head into the game either: Players are faced with corrupt court officials, horrible characters who need defense but seem indefensible, and a city that is on the cusp of a revolution. The narrative twists and turns in all sorts of unexpected ways and really kept me invested in the game from start to finish. The stunning artwork and the orchestral brilliance of Saint-Saëns only enhance a brilliant story. If I had one “complaint” about the game, it is this: I wish there was some voice-over work to reduce the amount of reading required.
All in all, I can’t say enough good things about Aviary Attorney Definitive Edition for Nintendo Switch. It’s loads of fun for a particular niche of player with some of the best writing I’ve ever experienced in my years in gaming. If you’re looking for a wildly entertaining and visually stunning game on the go, this one may be tailor-made for you. I am personally hoping that there’s a sequel on the wing one of these days. The game is just that good.
A copy of Aviary Attorney for Nintendo Switch was provided for the purpose of review.
Compare to: Phoenix Wright