Originally published on Steam

Delightful is just the word to describe this game. I've only played a short demo of a Phoenix Wright game, but it's clear Aviary Attorney uses the same gameplay elements as the Ace Attorney series. Get a case, search for evidence, go to trial and cross examine witnesses. Each character has a clearly expressed relationship with other characters and there's a meta-narrative between the various denizens of the court. Having completed 2 cases, I can say they have provided light puzzles, enjoyable twists and dramatic stories.

The art was provided by the public domain works of J. J. Grandville, who died in 1847. Each character is an animal drawn in human clothing and with human-looking expressions. The music is also public domain: Camille Saint-Saëns and other dead composers. Obviously these choices reduced costs, but they don't feel cheap. It took care to select each image and each musical cue. The characters are also animated and the music edited to fit the narrative. Plus the whole aesthetic works for a story set in 19th century Paris since it is from that time and place.

I won't spoil the puzzles or the story. As fits this sort of game, the situations are contrived to provide intrigue. I found the humor fitting and often Dickensian. It leans heavily on puns and misunderstandings, which is fine in my book. So far I've glided through the conversations as smoothly as reading a particularly literary graphic novel. I'm only stopping to write this review to avoid devouring the entire game in one night.

I do have a few minor gripes. The font used for dialog isn't kerned well. I noticed the lack of ligatures fairly quickly, which probably is a result of the print-style art. Good books from that era usually have excellent typesetting. But as I read more text, I became distracted by inconcistent spacing. It's probably not something most people would notice, but it does raise alarms in the unconcious.

As with most puzzle games of this sort, it's inevitable that I will be thinking less about what the situation calls for me to do and more about what the game designer expects from players. I'm mostly in synch with the game logic, but a few times I guessed wrong. Having made my choice, the game went in a different direction than I expected. I don't know how to fix this, however.

Overall, this is a compelling game that I heartily recommend.