Bee Gaming for Free with BirdGut

BirdGut Title

“If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would have only four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man.” – Albert Einstein

Developer: Micah Boursier
Released: May 2019
Price: Free

Platforms: PC, Mac
Available on: Steam
Engine: Unity

About the Game

BirdGut is a charming but challenging puzzle-platformer set inside the internal organs of a bird. You play as a bee, born different from the rest of its hive and subsequently exiled. As if that weren’t tragic enough, you are then eaten by a large bird whilst waiting in-line at the bug unemployment centre.

The bird’s insides are full of other bugs, but they’re all brainwashed, working at curious mechanical factories that exist instead of organs creating an interesting and unpredictable environment, with different body parts representing the various levels. The protagonist is ironically immune to the indoctrination due to the very ‘defect’ that caused it’s fellow insects to shun the poor bee.

BirdGut Screenshot - Opening
The Bee’s rejection at the start of the game!

Styling

The game’s visuals are simplistic, 2D, black and white, with a touch of red for things such as lasers and to indicate interaction opportunities. However, the cute, hand-drawn images work really well with the game’s overall tone and its subtle humour making the art-style one of the game’s strongest features.

The music was mostly pleasant, almost calming at times, but it intensified and became more frantic during the more dramatic parts of the game. Sound effects ranged from jolly and adorable bee footsteps to the grinding, clanking racket of gears and machinery and the frantic sounds of weapons and explosions. They were varied and utilised well, complementing the style and gameplay.

BirdGut Screenshot - Puzzle
One of the game’s puzzles involving rotating a maze in order to acquire fuel.

Gameplay

Whilst BirdGut is primarily a platformer, it does feature a number of puzzles with a range of difficulty. Some were as simple as moving an item to stand on and others were either a bit more complicated or required a degree of finesse. I enjoyed the puzzle elements of the game and would have liked to see a little more.

One of the biggest issues I had with the game was the inability to change the keybindings or use a controller. The platformer parts of the game were diverse and fun, requiring a mix of good timing and logic. However, some areas, especially in the latter half of BirdGut, went past being satisfyingly difficult and became frustrating. It also seemed as though the checkpoints got increasingly punishing as the game progressed and I found myself repeating some fairly lengthy and gruelling sections.

There are an eclectic collection of threats and challenges in Birdgut, including various other creatures and bugs, lasers, spikes, saws, blades and more. I was surprised to find myself acquire a weapon towards the end of the game as there was no mention of shooting in the game’s Steam Store description. Nonetheless, I eventually managed to hop up a series of planks whilst frantically firing at enemies to then kill a beastly mantis.

Conclusion

Overall, the game is a difficult but enjoyable experience. It offers a satisfying range of puzzles and traditional platformer mechanics set in a fantastical and surreal, internal environment with plenty of dangerous enemies and threats in case things weren’t hectic enough!

Birdgut Screenshot - Menu
The game menu (post-completion)

BirdGut is free and currently only available on Steam. It takes around 2-4 hours to play and provides replayability in the form of achievements, collectables, chapter selection (after completion) and multiple endings. It’s not quite the bee’s knees and might not be for everyone but if you enjoy puzzle-platformers and are a glutton for punishment I’d definitely recommend this game, it’s cute, unusual and a little bit torturous!

If you enjoyed this read, check out Indie Hive’s reviews for both free games and other puzzle and platformer games.

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