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Aery – Calm Mind 4 Review

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It’s so hard to defend a series like Aery. They release every few months, which is more parrot-flying than anyone could possibly need. The levels are all recycled from previous titles. And, almost without exception, they launch with a medley of bugs and glitches. When each game is so similar to the last, how are game-breaking bugs excusable? 

But let’s try to defend it anyway. There are precious few games on the Xbox that tap into a more relaxing, laid-back vibe. Aery is meditative, and the Calm Mind series in particular leans into the ‘take a break’ aspect of the games. And while the environments may be recycled, there’s a low-key beauty to them. As the admittedly brilliant soundtrack soars, you can find yourself enjoying the sights.

There we go, we’ve made the case for the defence. Now we can get on with a more realistic assessment. Aery – Calm Mind 4 is the latest in the improbably long line of Aery games, and it does absolutely nothing different. It ignores any previous dalliances with changing the soundtrack, improving the art or even adding new levels: everything here is the same old, same old. 

aery calm mind 4 review 1
The Aery series is back with another Calm Mind

Much like the previous Calm Mind iterations, Calm Mind 4 wants to get out of the way as much as possible, so that serenity can be achieved. What that means is that the feathers that you collect aren’t all spread about a large arena and gainable from the start. They tend to be in a chain, one after the other, and the next feather only appears once you have collected the previous one. That means you can put your trust in whoever placed them: as you collect a feather, the subsequent one appears, and you can bank slightly to the left or right to catch them.

That’s it. You tilt your parrot at a feather and wait a few dozen seconds before you reach it. Then you tilt to the next one, and so forth. The tally of feathers ticks up, giving you some reassurance that it won’t last forever. And once the final feather is caught, you are whisked away to the game’s menus, where you can pick another level. Oh, and you’ll be 100G richer as a thank you. 

Without a doubt, it is not going to be for everyone. The closest Aery – Calm Mind 4 gets to challenge are in the moments where the path of feathers takes a sudden turn. You may even complete a 360 turn as you look for the next one. But we guarantee that the confused look on your face will last a maximum of ten seconds, as the next feather will materialise on the horizon.

But while it’s more a screensaver than a game, it’s also soothing. There’s a reason that people keep buying the sodding thing, and it’s not just because of the easy 1000G. For two hours, you can guarantee that Aery – Calm Mind 4 will do the bare minimum to hold your attention. All of the frustration from Remnant II or Forza washes off you as you grab one feather after another. 

aery calm mind 4 review 2
There’s nothing here you haven’t seen before

So, how does Aery – Calm Mind 4 rank against the other Aeries? Particularly badly, thanks for asking. The reason for that flippant reply is that it makes all the usual mistakes that we have become sadly used to with the Aery series. 

I’ll be honest, I’m finding it increasingly inexcusable that the Aery games can’t launch in a finished state. EpiXR Games are charging £12.49 for an Aery game nowadays, so you’d hope that things would improve, but – if anything – things are getting worse. Aery – Calm Mind 4 launches with two levels that are completely inaccessible. As soon as you boot up The Fields or The Peninsula, they immediately crash you back to the home screen. We’re not the only ones having this problem, going by the game’s forums and reviews. When that amounts to two levels out of Aery – Calm Mind 4’s eleven total levels, it’s a significant proportion. You are missing just under one-fifth of the game, all thanks to bugs.

Visual issues are rife. One level, The Party Village, is borderline unplayable. There are fireworks spaffing across the sky throughout the level, and this clearly is having an impact on performance. You can only see a few metres in front of your face, as buildings pop-in suddenly. We were glad to see the back of it (make it three unplayable levels out of eleven). And that’s without mentioning repeated issues with screen-blanching, as a host of levels are so washed out that you can’t see the parrot, details in the environment, or occasionally the feathers themselves. 

Not great, is it? Aery – Calm Mind 4 gets a third strike with its choice of levels. There are no levels here that we haven’t seen in other Aery games. We normally can point to one or two that at least riff on something that has gone before. Here, the best we can say is that they’ve chosen some pretty good ones from Aery’s past. Valhalla and The Garden Eden are some of the very best. But these are borrowed victories, as we’ve played Valhalla at least four times now. 

aery calm mind 4 review 3
Unfortunately, it’s all a bit boring

A fourth strike? Oh, we’re spoiling you. Some levels, for reasons that we can only guess at, are stupendously slow. The Western Village zooms into a single prospector village where most other levels zoom out and have you flying through vast arenas. But in the transition, the parrot has become excruciatingly sloooow. It takes far too long to travel from one building to another, and the speed-up button only gets you so far. There’s not enough in the environment to make that speed-decrease satisfying. It’s just plain boring. 

‘It’s just plain boring’ is a statement that could, unfortunately, stretch to the whole game. Because Aery – Calm Mind 4 is about the twelfth regurgitation too far. The same levels arrive in the same arrangements, and we’re meant to pay £12.49 for the privilege. When visual issues and game-breaking bugs reduce the playable levels from eleven down to eight, it’s hard to make a case for anyone to pay for it.

SUMMARY

Pros:
  • As usual, a cracking soundtrack
  • Garden Eden and Valhalla are good levels
Cons:
  • Most of the other levels are retreads
  • Two levels are near-impossible to play
  • Constant graphical issues
  • Can we hold fire on Aery games for a bit?
Info:
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, TXH
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One
  • Release date and price - 20 December 2023 | £12.49
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>As usual, a cracking soundtrack</li> <li>Garden Eden and Valhalla are good levels</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>Most of the other levels are retreads</li> <li>Two levels are near-impossible to play</li> <li>Constant graphical issues</li> <li>Can we hold fire on Aery games for a bit?</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, TXH</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One <li>Release date and price - 20 December 2023 | £12.49</li> </ul>Aery - Calm Mind 4 Review
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