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Falcon Age

Game review by
David Chapman, Common Sense Media
Falcon Age Game Poster Image
Take flight with cultural tale of friendship, rebellion.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

While the main thread is the usual “good vs. evil” trope, there's also many underlying themes with a lot of meaning, such as cultural awareness, knowing who you are, where you come from, and keeping that living, breathing history alive through generations. There’s also a focus on the relationship and bonding between people and animals.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Ara is a determined character with a big heart, caring not only about her family and her people, and the legacy she’s destined to carry, but she also forms a strong bond with her falcon. The bird is more than a tool or a means to an end, but becomes a true friend to Ara, and through her, the player as well.

Ease of Play

The game features pretty fluid controls, particularly in VR with the PlayStation Move controllers. Even skipping the VR entirely and playing on the console with a DualShock feels somewhat intuitive. The game’s difficulty offers up some challenge as well, while never getting overwhelming or frustrating.

Violence

Violence is essentially up to the player. Players use a combination of melee attacks and commands for their falcon to attack a variety of robotic enemies. But the game does also include an option to avoid combat altogether, creating a different experience for players.

Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Falcon Age is a downloadable first-person action/adventure game available for PlayStation 4, with additional support for the PlayStation VR. Players take on the role of a young girl fighting against the oppression of her people by a robotic army with the help of a falcon partner. The game features strong themes of cultural appreciation, as players learn the ways of Ara’s people, the importance of that heritage, and just how fragile culture can be. There's violence against robotic enemies, with players using a combination of the falcon’s action and the player’s own melee attacks. There’s no blood or gore in the combat, and the game even includes an option to avoid combat altogether.

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What's it about?

FALCON AGE is a tale set on a dying planet, stripped of its resources by robotic invaders and its people forced into a life of servitude. Players take the role of Ara, a young prisoner wasting away in a jail cell, with her only friend being a young falcon that visits her. Together, the duo make their escape and find their way back to Ara’s people. It's here that Ara learns more about the history of her people and their once proud connection with the land. Armed with this knowledge, Ara finds a newfound sense of purpose, seeking to free her people from the robots’ oppressive rule. Together with the falcon friend she has raised and cared for, Ara is determined to give rise to a new resistance, reclaim the planet in her people’s name, and ensure that the legacy of her people and their ways continue to live on.

Is it any good?

Since the dawn of time, there’s been a distinct divide between being a “dog person” or a “cat person.” But after spending time in the world of Falcon Age caring for, training, and even pampering your own virtual pet falcon, you might just wind up being more of a “bird person.” The story is a compelling tale of fighting back against oppression while preserving your heritage and culture, and it’s a story that’s both relevant and engrossing. But it’s impossible to deny that it’s your avian ally steals the spotlight in every way. From its generally playful nature when given toys to its steadfast loyalty in the heat of battle, your falcon always feels like more than just a tool in your bag of tricks. And the more time you spend in the game, especially in the more immersive VR environment, the more you find yourself truly bonding with your feathered sidekick.

As much fun as it is to simply spend time petting and playing with your falcon, there's actually a lot more to the game. Take away the virtual pet aspect and you’re left with an adventure that, while linked to a compelling plot, can get a little stale from a gameplay perspective. The various puzzles that block your progress aren’t very challenging, and feel more like a chore than anything else, especially after having come across a similar puzzle two or three times already. In fact, one big gripe is that Falcon Age’s main story falls on the shorter end of the spectrum, and a lot of that time feels like you’re replaying the same bits over and over. There were also a few minor visual hiccups that popped up (missing textures, stuttering framerates, etc.) when playing without the VR setup that seemed just fine in the PSVR headset. Despite this, the connection you build between yourself and your falcon remains strong, and gives more than enough reason to keep revisiting the Falcon Age world, and learning a little something about humanity in the process.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about cultural influence. How do cultural differences help to shape communities? How important is it to learn about various cultures, and how can that influence or inspire you?

  • What are some of the ways that humans and animals work together? What are some of the ways that some animals become members of the family?

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