Often in life we become trapped by the things important to us, our love, our careers, our ambitions. Painted into a corner, our desires and commitments turn into the very cages we fear, only gilded with gold.
Like a Good Canary, we must sing to please our benefactors, employers, loved ones, audiences, and friends. Will we remain frozen in place by our machinations, or is there a way out of here and towards a life past the confines?
Caged Bird feels like a familiar daily routine, something innately intuitive to anyone who has picked up a controller or set their hands on a mouse and keyboard. The ease of navigation, straightforward interactions and centerpiece puzzles lead you down a seemingly benign, pastel experience draped with delightfully subdued tunes. Despite the pleasant exterior and meditative framework, it becomes increasingly evident from recurring visual clues that a deeper message lays obscured in the shadows, just beyond the boundaries of perception.
Swietanski’s artistic direction and music cultivates a taste of comfort, an intimate complacency that tempts the player like a siren song. You linger within your new home, lacking urgency to seek out the solution, after all.. the view is so nice, things aren’t so bad.. do you really need to leave?
In time, we come to see how limited things really are within this place, and the urge to escape and return to our nature becomes imperative to our well-being. We move on in search of a solution.
We fly around our cages, biting at the exterior, flapping our clipped wings as we panic, looking for answers to the things that constrain us. For a brief moment, we see a gap, a small passage that may finally yield escape, we budge, trying to push through only to realize it’s never that easy.
In our failure we become haunted by our fears and insecurities, returning once again to the primordial darkness that anchored us here to begin with. Realization sets in, and we start to come to terms with what’s happened to us.
Through that gap you managed to catch a glimpse of something greater, a swirling mirage of possibilities and the path ahead that may one day grant us sweet liberation. Far from a wasted effort, you now see that many opportunities remain for you to exploit the timing of an open door or finally muster the strength to press through the grating of the cage.
Until then, you will sing like a good canary, silently biding your time until the day you can spread your wings, and finally attain the knowledge of your true self and the multitudes that lay dormant within you.
Emily Rose is an indie developer who writes for rebind.io and resides in the pacific northwest. She’s often seen in the local VR arcade and developer community participating in pushing the medium’s horizons. You can find her on twitter @caravanmalice