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Become the Falconeer and soar through the skies aboard a devastatingly powerful Warbird! Take part in an engaging action RPG featuring ferocious aerial dogfights and deep exploration of the mysterious open world. The Falconeer is now available DRM-free on GOG.COM with a 10% discount lasting until 17th November 2020, 5 PM UTC!

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If you are interested in watching what the gameplay for The Falconeer is like, there is a 2-hour video on the official GOG Twitch channel:
Sadly GOG imposes a tiny character limit on reviews, so the full review has to go here...

Review for game version (german localization) deluxe edition

1. Gameplay
First and foremost, The Falconeer is a flight simulator. It also has arcade combat and some RPG elements, but most of the time you'll be mid-air, exploring a water-covered dystopian world. When you've had enough of exploring the world to find ancient relics and small or less small settlements or simply taking in the scenery, you can return to settlements and (depending on your faction affiliation) do story missions or side quests. Alternatively you can earn yourself some experience and shivers (the item you'll use as currency) by doing some freelancing: Try to find pirate treasures hidden at decent places in the sea, destroy ships and sell their load in towns or escort trading ships to their destination for a reward.

You know the cliché that most RPG quests are simply "fetch this" or "kill that". Well, at least in most games I played that's actually true. However, good quest design made even fetch and kill quests enjoyable. Think of TES IV: Oblivion, a game that had a lot of good elements about its quest design: Simple tasks were embedded in interesting lore, featured unexpected twists and fascinating scenarios. Instead of a simple "kill 6 trolls and get an item from their lair" you'll be sent to investigate the vanishing of a painter, get sucked into his latest painting, where he's trapped alongside you and the thief that stole the magic paintbrush which was used to create this paintworld from the painter's imagination – however, the thief has been killed by his painted troll guardians, and you need to retrieve the paintbrush to escape the paintworld.
How does The Falconeer do its quests? First of all, let's look at the ingame actions all these quests are based on.
a) Destroy mobile target
b) (Retrieve and) deliver item, but you'll find yourself under attack at least once
c) Defend location under attack
d) Conquer fortified position
e) Escort ship
f) Precision flight
Except for precision flights, which only happen in few story missions (and for unlocking new optional mounts), and freelancer escort jobs every quest involves at least one airborne fight. The fighting is rather enjoyable, and especially with a low character development not trivially easy. Until you're good at evading projectiles (with or without evasion rolls) you will have to find a balance between offensive and defensive combat phases. When you can get close behind a target and chase it, that will be the perfect time to strike offensively. However, you'll inevitably get hit, lose health points and energy. You'll have to descend sharply to regain energy (and evade projectiles), but also use your energy to perform evasion rolls and get back to greater heights, as the higher you fly, the better your chances of survival are. You can hide in the clouds, outmaneuver larger air-ships by positioning yourself above them and so on. When you don't have much health left, recovering a bit is more important than potentially taking out another hostile. Later on, despite facing stronger foes, you'll be better equipped and more experienced and able to take on large squads of foes or fortified positions on your own without much trouble.

Side quests will always consist of differently flavoured tasks of one of the types a), b), c) or d) and are generated with a couple of variables (mission location, hostile faction, end location). Story missions feature mostly combinations of all objective types listed above. There are some exceptions to this which require you to cleverly interact with certain game mechanics, such as destroying only specific parts of a ship to render it immobile without destroying it completely. I liked that, but I found it too rare. In general, you know what to expect before you set off for a mission, and while the story missions certainly aren't as blunt as the side quests, they still don't excel at providing you with creative obstacles and restrictions. While I appreciate that airborne combat can play a prominent role in a flight simulator, I found that the quests did sufficiently emphasize flight mechanics. I'd have liked to see some more missions that involve safely traversing an air-mine field (rather than just shooting them out of the air), reach a location quickly and so on. On the other hand I can imagine that this sort of mission objective was added so sparingly (and mostly for optional content) because the developer wanted to prevent that players who struggle with the controls are unable to complete a mission and get frustrated by that.

Speaking of defeat: You may at some point fail a mission either by screwing up with an objective or dying in combat. When you fail a side quest, well, you miss out on your reward but continue in freeplay where you are. When you fail a story mission, you will be brought back to your home settlement and can start the mission again or go for some side quests and freelancing as usual. When you die, you're brought back to the point where you've last set off, and lose a bit of your currency. There are no manual saves, only automatic saving whenever you land at places. In general, this is no issue. Missions don't take long so if you have to cancel one unexpectedly you won't lose much progress.

2. Flight controls
As the game is a flight simulator its controls are rather important. First of all, this is the very first flight simulator I've ever played. I can't make comparisons with other games here and only speak from the perspective of a person that's had its first contact with the genre in the reviewed game.

There are multiple control schemes available for controlling the camera and your movement (including inverse controls for each, as usual). You can map these controls to different parts of controllers, your keyboard or your mouse. I went with mouse + keyboard controls – but my mouse has extra buttons and I mapped every keyboard action to them, so I played the game mouse-only (and thus single-handedly, in case that's relevant to someone who's currently got an injured hand or the likes; with some extra buttons on the mouse this game is perfectly playable with just one hand).

The mouse-only controls were rather intuitive. The falconeer will fly into the direction you point towards. When you shoot, the projectile is sent where you're pointing (which doesn't make it trivial to strafe around a target while also shooting at it). Descending increases your velocity, ascending decreases it. You can slow down your movement at will, but increasing your movement speed again will either require descending or investing energy. Energy is used up for acceleration, evasion rolls and ascension, aswell as lost when you're hit in combat or collide with objects. It is regained by descending or performing specific combat actions if specific perks have been acquired.
This sounds like a trap: How to gain energy that is required to ascend if the only way of gaining energy is to descend – and you are already leveled with the water covering the planet? Firstly, you can still ascend when you're out of energy (it's just going to be slow without energy to dash), secondly, much more energy is recovered when descending compared to the energy spent for ascending (even when dashing). You'll never find yourself trapped unable to move.

3. Technical aspects

Game size: ~1GB
Loading times: Hardly noticeable. Of course this depends on one's individual hardware, but this game did a good job. There are no loading screens ingame. I think some loading screens are hidden in cutscenes, though, so maybe one would notice them when skipping cutscenes.

FPS options: 60 and 120
Volume sliders: Master and voices. Music, ambience and SFX aren't separate.
UI is scalable.

Bugs: I only encountered a single bug. Pausing the game and accessing the options (escape key) is often unresponsive when you're in or very near a town. When you want to access the map, options or return to your home city, get some distance to the nearest settlement first.

Stability: I did not have a single crash when playing the game. Alt+Tab works without issues.

4. RPG aspects and story (spoiler free)
There are very different interpretations of what "Role Playing Game" means. I'll look into role-playing and character progression aspects. I'll also drop a few words on the ingame story in a way that is, in my opinion, free of spoilers.

4.1) The Story
The game is divided into the prologue (tutorial), four main chapters and the epilogue. Each chapter is built upon the previous one. While the story's beginnings are rather humble you'll find that it keeps escalating throughout the chapters and leads into rampant turmoil. As always, there are twists, mysteries and revelations. Nothing too wild, you can see a lot of it coming. Over all, the story builds an arc that is coherent and has some interesting aspects to it.

4.2) RPG: Role-Playing
In each chapter you assume the role of a different character. You'll be playing no-one specific, as you can pick a (game-generated) character appearance, name and sex. You're not the chosen from prophecy. Instead, your character has a faction affiliation that determines which factions get along with it and which don't, deciding where you'll meet hostile forces and where you can get wares and side quests. There's no decision-making, you'll follow a linear story that has happened to this seemingly random character in the world's history.
Post edited December 02, 2020 by Krschkr
4.3) RPG: Progression
Now, how does progression work when you don't play a single character, but switch roles with each chapter?
Most conveniently.
The experience points you've earned, your currency, your weapon, your privileges and your chants are permanent and carry over from one chapter to the next. You can even return to previous chapters and still have the perks and assets earned later on. The only thing you'll lose when switching chapters is your mount – and if it was a bought one, its purchase price is returned to your wallet. Basically, you never lose anything.
There are different ways of progression.
4.3a) Levelling. Defeating foes and doing quests seems to grant experience points. With enough of them, you'll level up. The effect of levelling is that your mount's properties are improved. If a mount is decently agile but also rather fragile at level 1, it will be really agile at level 10 and a good chunk more durable. But I think that there's a cap to the mounts' stats, so with a very high level all mounts should behave the same and only differ in appearance.
4.3b) Mounts. You can buy mounts with different properties (fast, durable, balanced, ...) from various towns after completing their respective time race. The time races all seemed fair and manageable. You can also improve specific stats of your mounts with toxines, i.e. improving their maximum movement speed by slimming them. You'll lose your mount and its toxines when changing chapters.
4.3c) Weaponry and ammunition. You can buy weaponry at shops. Depending on personal preference, you can go for fast-shooting low-impact weaponry, the opposite, a balanced mix or weapons that charge for maximum effect until you release the projectiles. Item quality will improve both rate of fire aswell as the projectile force. Any high-level gun will be vastly powerful and make combat rather easy.
Your ammunition are lightnings, fire-charged lightnings or acid. You can either buy it in settlements or recharge it in thunderstorms or by looting the ammunition of larger (air-)ships you destroy in combat. Your weapon stays with you, whether you die or change chapters. However, in both of these events your ammunition is reset to bog-standard lightnings.
4.3d) Permissions. Faction relation is not gained by performing quests and helping people out. Instead, buying permissions will make people like you. A couple of permissions are rewarded in story missions, but most of them are simply for purchase. They are permanent and always worth buying when you come across them. This will open up the ability to buy (more) items in shops or get additional and better rewarded side quests.
4.3e) Chants. These items basically are the game's perk system. Chants provide you with effects such as regaining energy when defeating an airborne unit. Unless you sell them, they are permanent and carry over from chapter to chapter, so getting these is as recommendable as getting permissions.
4.3f) Discoveries. Your lifting of the fog of war on the world map is permanent and carries over to other chapters.
The more you play the game, the more powerful, privileged and knowledgeable you get.

5. Graphics
I have two conflicting main impressions on the graphics: Blunt and artistically well-done.
Blunt: Character design and animation, town designs and some landscapes are rather simple and unrefined. I was a bit worried about this when I checked video material prior to purchase. This impression has not changed, I'm still not entirely happy with this part of the game's graphics.
However, what's so much more important, is that everything else in the game is artistically well-done. The gameplay happens in the skies over the sea. You have beautiful changes of weather and daytime that reflect in the sea beneath you, colourful sunsets, a nightsky filled with stars, clouds to dive into and exotic relics from the past to gaze at. In my opinion, the developer nailed the visual appearance of the game where it matters: The general appearance of the world is appealing, whether you fly across the open sea, explore frozen peaks, traverse a thunderstorm, dodge meteors ejected by volcanos or gaze into the mysterious abyss that cuts the sea in a northern and southern part.

Regarding post-processing: There's a slider in the ingame options that allows to reduce the amount of post-processing. If you don't like the vignette effect, chromatic aberration and the likes, use that slider. Individual toggling of effects does not seem to be available.

Regarding accessiblity: The game provides various options for the UI colour scheme. I expect that this is intended to allow people with different kinds of colour blindness to still understand the visual information conveyed through UI elements. However, please note that I didn't check whether any of these options actually helps people with a form of colour blindness.

6. Sounds and Soundtrack

6.a) General sound design. I'm not particularly attentive about this. I can tell that there was nothing about the sounds that annoyed me, which is a first. But I didn't find much of the general sound effects to be very memorable either. Well, I do know the cawing of mounts when you don't fly well and thus treat them badly. It'll make you feel guilty and try to get better at handling your mount more agreeably. It had that effect for me, at least.

6.b) Soundtrack. I found the soundtrack mostly fitting. Combat tracks are agitating, exploration tracks serene. My only grievance is the track that is played in chapter 4 near your home base. I get it, the story has reached a point where orchestral heavy ordnance may be appropriate. However, summoning world-ending gravity near your home base, where you're going to travel time and again, was a bit stressful.
You'll find that the soundtrack does not only switch between combat and exploration, but that there are also transitions between exploration tracks. If, for example, you reach maximum elevation and glide through the skies above the ceiling, the streamed music will switch to fit this scenery. You'll also find that each town has its own soundtrack and each foe type has combat tracks tailored towards them.

The deluxe edition contains the soundtrack in .mp3 and .flac format and includes 29 tracks. This includes the trailer (with english voiceover), chapter introductions (english voiceover) and location introductions (with english voiceover). Warning: These include spoilers!
I haven't played the game enough to tell whether this soundtrack contains 100% of the ingame tracks or, as we've seen it in many cases, only features a selection of tracks.

6.c) Voice acting. Since I've only played the localized german game version I can't say anything about the english or french voice acting. See 7.e3 and 7.f for notes on the german voice acting.
Post edited December 02, 2020 by Krschkr
7. German localization
The german localization is over all well-done with a few minor hiccups. Please note that the positives easily outweigh the negatives. First, the aspects which negatively caught my attention.
7.a) Minor inconsistencies. Example: All but two fortified locations are called "Fort" the others "Feste". While that's synonymous, it made me wonder whether there's something special about the two outliers. They seem to work exactly the same as the others, except that they play a role in the main story.
7.b) Text and translation errors. Example 1: In quests that ask you to transport an item to a different town you'll be sent to bring the item "to [person name]", where "to" was wrongly translated with "nach" instead of "zu". Nach is used for locations, zu is the right pick for persons. As the names are probably variable parameters in the text I assume that this error was due to an ambiguous variable code that could be interpreted as referring to a location name (such as %TargetName). Example 2: There are some grammar errors, such as referring to a kraken with the colloquial rather than the correct genus. None of these errors prevented understanding the text.
7.c) Subtitles and voiceover don't always match. I recall three different causes for this. 7.c1) The subtitles refer to location names or variable rewards which are omitted/broadly described by the voiceover. That's no issue and just an efficient way of handling variable content while still supporting full voice acting. I just mention this for the sake of completeness. 7.c2) In one occasion one line of a main quest introduction was present in the subtitles but missing from the voiceover. Luckily this line was just there to express urgency and not telling a part of the story or a mission objective. 7.c3) The voice actors mercilessly corrected grammar errors found in the subtitles. This is great. I really prefer it when the voice acting directors have the courage to correct issues in the text rather than making the voice actors record gibberish, as it's seen in many other productions. However, there's one exception to this. In my opinion, they pronounced "Falkonier" (translation for falconeer) unfittingly. You have the options to emphasize it as FalKOni-er or FalkoNIER; the former would be fitting to describe a person originating from a region called "Falkonien", the latter would be for a profession (such as "Grenadier"). Depending on which of the two you pick, these words are also declinated differently. From the declination found ingame it's clear that the latter meaning was intended, and that's the one that's fitting the story. But the voice actors went with the former pronounciation. Ah well, an entire paragraph about the pronounciation of the translation of a single neologism, this review is unbearably german. At least they did this consistently wrong and not inconsistently. :p
7.d) Many proper nouns are left untranslated. I know that this is a design decision and some people prefer it this way, but I always found that well-fitting translations of proper nouns fairly improve translations (example: Kingdom Come Delivarance).
7.e) The outro's voiceover is not translated.

Now, in addition to 7.c3, the main positive.
7.f) Very good voice acting performance. I thoroughly enjoyed the job these voice actors have done and found it fitting in all cases. Of course, some of the lines are a bit... quirky. But those are the combat shouts of maddened and lawless characters, so it didn't feel misplaced. You'll find that the empire's military will speak in a commanding tone, the secretive mancer order will often appear condescending, the sea witches give their words significance and mystery, the treacherous intrigants will appear agreeable and charming. And once you reach the story's climax, characters you've known as professional will lose their countanance and fit into an outrage. I found this to be easily one of the better german localizations I've seen in the last years despite its flaws. Mind you, this is a subjective statement.

8. Personal fluff
Throughout the game I always wished there was a raven style mount. I know, you're a 'falconeer' and not a 'raveneer', but I love these clever and cautious creatures. Alas, what I was looking for did not seem to be part of the game. I silently thought to myself: Is there a hope that the developer turns evil and sells cosmetic DLCs? I'd sure buy that raven mount DLC.
After finishing the epilogue I re-entered one of the earlier chapters of the game with my existing "savegame" to find that one single location on my map that I had missed on my exploration tours throughout the game. It was the last flight track. I completed it, went to the nearest village and found that this flight track unlocked the "Ravenkin" mount. O my luck...

8.1) Some hints for people intending to buy this game which I'd have liked to have known myself.
8.1a) The world map is accessed from the menu, so if you need it for orientation, press escape.
8.1b) Avoid getting too close to large (air-)ships. That will cause collision damage. I managed to get stuck in a zeppelin style airship and died from constant collision damage.
8.1c) Likewise, don't get too close and personal to large (air-) ships when shooting at them. The explosions you sometimes trigger by destroying subcomponents like cannons will also damage you, and they hurt quite a lot.

So much for my first GOG game review. I enjoyed this game and if you feel like trying a flight simulator, I can recommend The Falconeer. Or maybe I mentioned some points that show you that it's not your kind of game, I suppose that's also a working result. Sadly I have to give this game a 1 to 5 stars rating and can't give 4.5, so I'll have to either unjustly give the game a worse or better rating than I intend. I guess it's fair to go for the better rating with this one.
Post edited December 02, 2020 by Krschkr