Review: Free Bird

I played free bird. by passerine as part of the IF Short Games Showcase 2023. The end punctuation and lower case are mandatory and throughout the game, like if bell hooks took over Yahoo!

I really enjoyed it. It’s both approachable and unique.

The core game mechanic

There are a lot of approaches to making a Twine game, from CYOA-style stories to object-based adventure games. While some Twine games try to imitate parser-style verbs and actions, Twine games usually present the player with a list of options, which means that the player doesn’t really get the illusion of acting spontaneously like they would in a parser game.

In free bird. there are no verbs at all, only adjectives and nouns. So you need to think about the properties of things — which are in a way an abstraction of the actions that might involve the object in question. The fact that the monkey could turn a doorknob is where this system really came together and felt intuitive for me.

Because this game was part of Seed Comp, this system is thanks to to a concept called “Room; Closed Door” by @OverThinking (Charm Cochran) rather than the author. However, the author passerine decided exactly how this should work – you could use the concept to make a more mazelike game with fewer moving parts – so the author deserves part of the credit too.

The story

The bird escape concept is from “Feathered Fury” by @AmandaB . At first I thought Amanda contributed to the game mechanic because it is similar to her (mostly) verbless game What Heart Heart of Ghost Guessed, but that’s not the case.

The story is minimal, but it works. I didn’t read closely enough to fully get the original scenario. From other reviews I can see that the bird was trying to escape from poachers specifically as opposed to a zoo or pet store.

I can’t tell how much of the story is from Amanda versus from passerine, since the “Feathered Fury” seed is now deleted. In any case, the game gets the tone across well by portraying the human character as sinister and by portraying the bird’s desire to escape.


The game has a minimal but nice design. The yellow-on-blue background uses slightly uncommon colours and has a nice logo, so it’s distinctive.

The square frame is nice too (very artsy, it looks like the sort of thing that would go in an art museum) but it is a big bigger than my browser height. Fortunately there is a pop-out button and download option that fixes this.

Note: This review is cross-published on IFDB with a 4-star rating


Thanks for sharing this review! I’m so glad you enjoyed the game.

I’m never sure what size to make the embed on itch, but there is a fullscreen button on the bottom right (at least on my browser at this moment)—though for some reason that also makes the game rectangular. I’ll have to look into this further…thanks for pointing it out!


You’re right about the button, it was just outside of the blue frame. My mistake, and thank you.

The pop-out and download are now square for me btw, not sure if you have changed it since my first review.

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Hmm, that’s interesting. All I did was uncheck and recheck the fullscreen option in the settings. As long as it didn’t do anything else unwanted, great, I guess!