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Birdland

by Brendan Patrick Hennessy profile

Teens
2015

Web Site

(based on 57 ratings)
6 member reviews

About the Story

Fourteen-year-old Bridget's summer camp experience takes a turn for the bizarre when her otherworldly bird dreams start bleeding into reality.

Game Details

Language: English (en-CA)
First Publication Date: October 1, 2015
Current Version: Unknown
License: Freeware
Development System: Twine
IFID: EB12BAF9-37F9-459B-B65B-B32B96DBF254
TUID: ap1651hvjldbuugj

Awards

Winner, Best Game; Winner, Best Writing; Winner, Best Story; Winner, Best NPCs; Winner, Best Individual NPC; Winner, Best Individual PC - 2015 XYZZY Awards

4th Place - 21st Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2015)

Editorial Reviews

Rock, Paper, Shotgun
A lot of it reminds me of the pared back, adult-esque dialogue between the teenagers in Youth in Revolt. A kind of unreal chatter I love to hear.
See the full review

Rock, Paper, Shotgun
Itís Twine, but with an unusual format; itís a lesbian YA romance; and itís an exploration of how teenagers learn to define their personalities, expressed through the medium of game stats. Itís charming and polished enough that you donít have to work too hard to get into it, but thereís enough there to support further thought. You donít feel like you have to play it more than once to get a good experience, but thereís plenty to reward you if you do. Birdland demands little and yet offers much, which is a rare accomplishment for any kind of art.
See the full review

spooky action at a distance
Birdland has at its heart a story about a young woman figuring out the sort of person she wants to be, and overcoming the difficulties of being shy, or weak, or scared, and maybe falling in love, and maybe solving a mystery. And all of that is encompassed in the voice of the narration, which combines a genuineness and an absurdity which effectively unites all of the disparate choices that the reader can make.
See the full review

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Member Reviews

5 star:
(26)
4 star:
(16)
3 star:
(10)
2 star:
(3)
1 star:
(2)
Average Rating:
Number of Reviews: 6
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Most Helpful Member Reviews


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A long, well-developed 'dramedy' about summer camp and dreams, June 26, 2016
by MathBrush
Related reviews: IF Comp 2015
This game from IFComp 2015 is, in my opinion, one of the best Twine games of all time, and certainly the best outside of the well-developed horror/darkness segment.

In this game, gameplay is split up between a summer camp with a slice-of-life scenario and dreams with an absurdist take on talking birds. As the game progresses, the two halves become more related.

The game takes a stats-based approach, with a twist. You develop statistics at night during your dreams; in the day, it affects what options you have for various activities. At first, I felt like the stats didn't matter, because scene follows scene in the same order regardless of your actions. However, on replay, I found that some of the best material is contained in stats-enabled actions.

This story is long and has several surprising turns. It's split into several days, each of which can be accessed independently in case you can't finish in one sitting. Because stats seem to be reset each night, I don't think you lose anything just skipping ahead.

The game includes some mild summer-camp-normal sexual references near the beginning, and one branch of one scene contains strong profanity.

Recommended for everyone.

Edit: When I played through again, I counted the distinct pages I viewed, and I took 234 choices/pages to complete the game.

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
Teens and birds, November 23, 2015
by CMG (NYC)
Birdland is a very long Twine story (probably at least novella-length for each playthrough) about teen girls at summer camp. They participate in standard camp activities like swimming, they gossip, and they fumble with their developing adolescent identities. This could've been horrible. All the ingredients are lined up for a sappy Hallmark special. But it's not horrible. It's great.

It's written in script format with occasional character illustrations (that are very nice; you can look at them all from the main menu, but they only show up once each in the game itself). What this means, of course, is that practically everything is conveyed through dialogue, and what that means is that major emphasis is put on character interaction. There is no flab. The game is laser-focused on these characters' mindsets.

I have the sense, although I could be mistaken, that you'll get the same overarching story no matter what choices you make. Which is no problem. It is a good story, not just about teen girls canoeing at summer camp, but about the dreams that the main character Bridget Leaside experiences -- strange dreams that seem to have ripple effects in the waking world.

Rather, what choices you make influence sub-scenes in the story by changing Bridget's mood, giving her access to certain actions or cutting them off. You're basically presented with different angles of approach to the same goals. What's especially thoughtful is how the game shows you every possible action, even if you can't choose one because you're in the wrong mood at the moment. This way you know what impact your decisions had. I am growing more and more fond of transparent game mechanics like this.

Since nearly all the writing is dialogue, the dialogue has to be good, and it is. Especially in the dream sequences, where humanoid birds speak to Bridget using stilted, mechanical language. Brendan Patrick Hennessy has a history writing stilted prose. You Will Select a Decision is all about the stilted prose. But whereas that was a pure comedy game, and the prose was stilted because it was meant to be a poor translation from Russian, in Birdland there's more going on. It's still funny in Birdland. The technique is just being used with more purpose.

Actually, Birdland feels like the natural next step after You Will Select a Decision and Bell Park, Youth Detective. Those games crashed together, refined themselves during the crash, and became Birdland. Bell Park herself is a central character in Birdland.

This game made me think about Wes Anderson movies. Moonrise Kingdom specifically. Kids who are more mature than the adults around them, but who are still kids learning how to survive. Kids who find themselves in over their heads as bizarre circumstances develop. Birdland is strong interactive fiction, pushing the medium more toward literature, which I completely support.

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful:
MAGICAL, October 5, 2015
by streever (America)
I am a human reviewer. The function of a human reviewer is to review humans.

A normal human activity at this juncture would be to provide a review of the human, Birdland, but Birdland is not a human. Birdland is a sublime and transcendental experience created by the human Brendan Patrick Hennessy.

Birdland tells the story of a young human woman at a summer camp, where she is experiencing human emotions of melancholy, isolation, and loneliness, and she dreams that she is in a strange world of birds who ask her puzzling questions about common-place experiences each night.

These dreams affect her daily moods, which in turn close off or open up different actions she can take.

A large cameo/guest-appearance by Bell Park, Youth Detective, is a delightful reference to Hennessy's last game, but absolutely not required reading.

I can't say enough good things about Birdland; the formatting, style, design, and narrative are all excellent.

See All 6 Member Reviews

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Recommended Lists

Birdland appears in the following Recommended Lists:

Surreal/trippy/metaphor/mind's journey, with two worlds by MathBrush
There is a big genre of games where you explore a metaphorical region of dreams or symbolism, and which has meaning in the 'real world'. I love this genre, and these are my favorite examples of the genre. I only include games where there...

IFDB Top 100 by Pegbiter
An automatically updated list utilizing an IMDb style Bayes estimator to calculate weighted ratings based on all IFDB ratings. Questions and comments can be placed here....

A Doll's House by verityvirtue
Games which feature female protagonists who mature through the progress of the game.

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Polls

The following polls include votes for Birdland:

For Your Consideration - XYZZY-eligible NPCs of 2015 by verityvirtue
This is for suggesting non-player characters from games released 2015 who you think might be worth considering for Best NPCs/Best Individual NPC in the XYZZY awards. Leave the name (or namelessness) of the NPC (or NPCs) in the comment on...

For Your Consideration - XYZZY-eligible multimedia uses of 2015 by Brendan Patrick Hennessy
This is for suggesting games released in 2015 which you think might be worth considering for Best Use of Multimedia in the XYZZY awards. This is not a zeroth-round nomination. The category will still be text-entry, and games not...

Great game sequels by Teaspoon
Whilst writing a review of "All Alone", Joey Jones's sequel to his game "If I Wasn't Shy", I became curious - how many examples of sequels are there in IF? Preferably good ones.

See all polls with votes for this game

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This is version 9 of this page, edited by CMG on 13 July 2016 at 6:32pm. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item