How do birds fly? It’s a question that I pondered while loading up another episode in the Aery game series. Well, the answer lies in the shape of the wings, as they manage to form what is known as an airfoil. This means that when the bird moves through the air the shape of the wing causes the air above it to move faster, thus pushing it forward and up. Thankfully, when spending time with Aery you’ll get the chance to contemplate these thoughts and ideas, mostly as the Aery franchise rarely requires much from your skillset. In fact, they are very slow paced; almost meditative. Shall we take to the skies once more?
I first played an Aery title a few years back and not much has really changed in the time since. It’s a game that focuses on guiding a little bird through the sky, as you go about collecting a certain number of checkpoints to finish the level. That’s about it. In the first game, there was a story about the bird’s struggle and journey through life told through text and quite a nice life story. The next couple in the series were interesting as well, as they took us players through a journey of the ages, charting the rise of man in the past and well into an apocalyptic future where everything has been destroyed.
In the latest extension of the franchise, Aery – Calm Mind is sold as a mindful, relaxing, rather calming experience. It’s something that is perfect as a diversion from the world, as you relax your spirit and soar into the heavens. The game advises you to do this for a short period every day. There isn’t any danger or fear to be had either – just a journey to take in. It’s perfect to help unwind after a stressful day at work.
There are eight chapters included in Calm Mind and each provides two levels to play around in. The first part of the chapter gives you an introduction to the world you might be exploring, covering a theme like “Deep Water”. Here you find a world of sea and islands sometime in the distant past. The second stage is an extension of that theme, which normally gives new maps and places them somewhere in time. I did notice when playing through that some levels have been reused from the other Aery games though, although this does come with Xbox One X enhancements in tow. For that reason some of the levels have felt a bit too familiar at times and I would preferred completely new variations in themes and level design.
The control system is the same as all the previous games in the series. You control your little bird in the third person, initially suspended in the air waiting for the level to form in front of you before being given free reign. You control the bird as you would expect by gliding it up and down, and then banking left or right. And honestly, that’s about it on the control front with little in terms of acceleration or brake. It could really do with these too as the pacing is very slow. But I guess that’s the main point of the game; it being a relaxing experience.
Your task is to collect little bright checkpoints in the level – usually between 25 or 40 to collect before the level is ended. Sometimes these are tricky to find, leaving you to scour the level, looking in every corner. At other times though they’ll all seem to be bunched in one place. It has a randomly generated sense to it, and certainly isn’t as complex as the first few games.
Visually and Aery – Calm Mind has had a bit of an upgrade in terms of textures and colours. Some levels look engaging, like the medieval city stages that are complete with some great attention to detail and an amazing feeling of depth. Others can feel a bit bland at times, but the experience of flying over them is always a joy. However, I’ve miss the visual storytelling of the previous games and because you can choose any chapter in any order, you lose that sense of narrative progression that previous Aery titles have. The soundtrack employs a very meditative collection of tracks that wouldn’t be out of place in an Ibiza chill-out room, but for me, after a while, they started to grate.
On the whole though, Aery – Calm Mind is a pleasant experience for the couple of hours it takes to complete all the chapters. The idea is that you take it in in chunks, and this is probably the best way of tackling the scenarios, especially if you’re just using the game as a chill-out mechanism. Nicely, as you do that, 1000 Gamerscore will easily be attained. I don’t however think that Calm Mind moves the Aery franchise forward in any way and the reusing of older levels feels a bit of a step backwards. That said, the visual upgrades are good and it’s always a pleasure to spend a bit of time flying high in the sky.
Continue the Aery adventure with Aery – Calm Mind on Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One