The Last Birdling is a short but deeply emotional story about loyalty and forbidden friendship. Although it is short, its multiple endings and thought-provoking themes make it stand out.
The Last Birdling
Platform: PC (reviewed), Mac, Linux
MonsterVine was provided with a PC code for review.
The Last Birdling is a visual novel set in a world where humans fought a vicious war with a humanoid people known as Birdlings. The Birdlings were almost entirely wiped out, and any survivors are killed on sight.
One of the few remaining Birdlings is a child named Bimonia, who secretly lives with her mother in a forest near the human village. When she encounters a human girl named Tayo, she expects to be enemies, but instead the two become friends. The story deals with Bimonia and Tayo’s attempts to be friends despite the animosity between their species.
A single playthrough lasts around three hours, and there are five endings to get. Choices spread throughout the game change the way the characters feel about each other, and while each individual choice only makes minor changes, they contribute to a running tally of decisions that determines which ending you’ll see. The visual novel is structured to make getting subsequent endings as easy as possible. It features a “progress” screen you can open at any time to see your current tally and the requirements for each ending, and in addition to being able to skip through text you’ve already read, you can also jump straight from choice to choice once you’ve gone through the scenes once.
The story’s length doesn’t diminish its emotional impact at all. If anything, it makes it stronger. The only drawback is that since a new chapter begins every time the story switches viewpoints, some chapters feel jarringly short. Nevertheless, the strong writing and loveable characters make it hard to turn away even at the darkest moments. Bimonia and Tayo in particular are endearing enough to make you want to see them succeed and find happiness, no matter how unlikely it seems.
There are many sweet scenes and lighthearted moments, but The Last Birdling is not a cheerful story by any means. Although the beginning includes some childish encounters from its young protagonists, it gradually shifts tones. The story gets surprisingly dark, and its endings deals with heavy, morally gray themes that will keep you thinking long after you’ve finished.
The art is beautiful and vibrant, and although the darkest content is not directly shown, the narration pulls no punches. Lastly, the music is an excellent accompaniment to the story, with beautiful tracks for its lighter scenes as well as more somber pieces that help drive the emotional moments home.
The Final Word
The Last Birdling is neither a long story nor a happy one, but it is a moving visual novel that deals with dark themes alongside questions of friendship and love.
– MonsterVine Review Score: 4.5 out of 5 – Great