Steam Game Festival 2021: SkateBIRD hands-on preview

Flap your way to the top of the skateboarding world in SkateBIRD, a quirky and bird-filled adventure from Glass Bottom Games.


Originally created in the absence of any modern high-quality Tony Hawk Pro Skater games, SkateBIRD aims to bring the fun of past skateboarding games to a new generation with a few of its own quirks. Instead of taking on the persona of your own skater, you’re actually… a bird?

The idea is silly, but it offers up the perfect way to explore the skateboarding scene without taking things too seriously. Armed with a skateboard, plenty of halfpipes, and even some bendy straws, players will be able to skate their way to the top as a skate-loving bird just waiting for any reason to flap its wings.

In the latest demo for SkateBIRD, players get to check out the second level of the game, which takes place on top of a few rooftops. The overall complexity of the park you have to skate in is simple, but it’s more than enough to get a feel for what the developers are trying to accomplish. NPCs are located around the area that offer missions, which act similarly to the objectives we’ve seen in previous skateboarding games.

Movement is simple, requiring you only to press forward on the control stick or your keyboard. Being able to flap your wings in the air is also really handy, often allowing you to catch some more air and save yourself from messing up a trick too badly. It can take some getting used to, though, but once players get the initial idea down, they can easily transition from pipe to pipe or gain access to larger areas.

As you move around the park, popping ollies and grinding around on power lines, it's easy to get lost in the low-fi hip hop music playing in the background, which helps to make the random bird facts thrown into the game's music a chuckle-worthy addition.

The demo offers a simple slice of the world that SkateBIRD is promising to offer, but it is more than enough to see that the developers at Glass Bottom Games are dedicated to making SkateBIRD feel like its own thing despite drawing inspirations from Tony Hawk Pro Skater and other skateboarding games. There are a few different birds that you can shift through in the menu, with support to actually choose your bird planned for the final release.

One of the biggest differences between this demo and the previous ones that the developers released is the inclusion of story content, which comes from the NPCs that I mentioned before. In one of these missions, you’re tasked with learning how to transfer from pipe to pipe, something that works fluidly with SkateBIRD’s simple movement system.

There’s also an objective that wants you to bail off the rooftop and test a pigeon carrying system intended to catch any birds that might end up taking a tumble. It’s a silly objective—I mean, they’re all birds, they can fly—but it fits the overall aesthetic of the game, and it helps to make everything feel really lighthearted and fun.

The demo for SkateBIRD is only available through the Steam Game Festival 2021 until Tuesday, February 9, 2021. So, if you’re interested in checking it out yourself, and seeing just how much progress the developers have made, then you should give it a try.

This preview is based on a public demo available in the Steam Game Festival 2021. SkateBIRD is currently planned to release sometime in 2021.

Guides Editor

Joshua holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and has been exploring the world of video games for as long as he can remember. He enjoys everything from large-scale RPGs to small, bite-size indie gems and everything in between.

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