• Add Review
  • Subscribe
  • Nominate
  • Submit Media
  • RSS

Birdie Grew Wings Today

Reviewer's Note:
I wrote this review ages ago but just got around to submitting it today as I was only able to recover it today thanks to Kentona's help. I am not entirely happy with it as written but for the sake of honesty it has not been revised at all very much.

At only 15 Minutes long, The Mirror Lied is still the best RMXP game I've ever played!

The Mirror Lied, by Kan "Reives" Gao is a COMPLETE RMXP game. It is graphically polished, brilliantly stylish, broodingly atmospheric, has an original score, and is fun, engaging, and thought provoking. In short: there is NO EXCUSE for not having played this. None WHATSOEVER. It takes just fifteen minutes of your life and it will use those fifteen minutes to not just consummately entertain and completely engross you, but will teach you some things about game design! How much better of a deal can you ask for?

This game is ART and as a result I am going to do everything I can to make this the most artful review I have ever written.

In any other game, the writing that appears in The Mirror Lied would be only passable, and barely at that. Not only is the dialog sparse and unembellished and the object descriptions (which you'll be seeing a lot of) brief and cursory, but the game is plagued by several errors of usage with the English language, mostly relating to pluralization (a full sink is referred to as a "collection of water", a drawer is described as being full of "oversized clothings" and a potted plant is described as "a decorative foliage") which combined with the lack of characterization or explanation would have been a serious problem for other games.

Not so with The Mirror Lied.

Why? First off, the game's completely brilliant and deceptively simple premise. There is not much I can say about a game only fifteen minutes long without spoiling it. The safest thing I can say is this: the protagonist in the Mirror Lied is a little girl, with no face, in a world that is not at all what it seems. Absolutely nothing is explained, at least not in a way that spells things out for the player. The game is essentially a mystery, where the joy is in the player's discovering and unraveling of its small in scope but densely packed secrets.

I want to say more, to really over-analyze the game and get at some of the depth inside it, and that is what SPOILER TAGS are for. If you have not played the game before DO NOT READ THIS SHIT IT WILL RUIN THE GMAE FOR YOU:

It eventually becomes apparent that the house is a kind of illusion, a phantasmal construct that is serving as a temporal prison to keep Leah (which I kept thinking is, similar to and to a Japanese speaker indistinguishable from the sound of Rhea, as in the witch!) off the playing field and out of the game. It is a fantasy world for her, a return to childhood, a mental labyrinth, forever delaying her action like the 1001 tales of Scheherazade. She was originally an agent- of some mysterious government organization? of a powerful force for good? for evil?- of some group or faction that is out to stop birdie, who is a curiously childlike metaphor for the apocalypse, the angel of death, what have you, from flying over the world and making it dissapear, continent by continent. But birdie has imprisoned her in this weird twilight place, this empty house, this childhood doll's house, and you have to help her escape...but then Revies' wonderfully ambiguous ending makes you wonder if even that interpretation is true, or just some kind of subjective spin you put on this brilliantly chimeric rorshak blot of a game!

The game's sparse dialog works for it because every conversation with Birdie is incredibly ominous and intentionally vague. I can't take off points for Birdie's dialog being indistinguishable, in voice, from the text of the computer messages, because that made me wonder if they were the same entity. It got to the point where I was wondering if even the curiously childlike English mistakes were intentional, that is how complete of a mindfuck this game is.

In spite of Reives' (perhaps at least half-ironic?) assertion that this game does not belong to the horror genre, HE IS LYING. It is perhaps the creepiest, spookiest complete RPG Maker game I have ever played. It upstaged Backstage. It unraveled The Longing Ribbon. I don't know if there's a higher complement I can pay. There is no blood, no gore, no monsters, no "survival horror elements", just a word that is every bit as disconcerting and nonsensical as your most poignant nightmares, or the grimmest of fairy tales.

Story Score: 4/5 (8/10)

This entire game takes place in a house. An ordinary house, convincingly rendered. The house has two bedrooms, one upstairs, and one downstairs, and two bathrooms, adjoining the bedrooms on the first and second floor. There is a computer room and lounge on the first floor too, a dining room, and a living room. There is a drawer in the dining room; the first time you examine it is locked. Then, right before your eyes, it disappears. You wonder if it was ever there. With the dresser gone, you can examine the painting behind it. Someone has written numbers on it. In the basement, there is a boiler, a secret office behind a locked door additionally blocked off by a table, and a mysterious panel with three switches. One of the switches is stuck. It is carved with a mysterious note: "Wait for me. 3:26."


At first, it is a sunny day outside the house. But the sunlight streaming in through the windows is just enough to remind you how dim it is inside the house, in comparison, the best use of lighting effects ever in any RM game. When it is night time, it is moonlight streaking in.


On the living room table is a music box (sometimes there is a phone there, and sometimes it isn't. It moves, you see. The phone is moving again! haha. Like it has a mind of its own.) which, when you open it, sounds just like a music box. Childlike...innocent...but with dark and haunting undertones. (It is the ONLY track of music the game uses, composed by Reives himself, and it is absolutely fantastic.) You can shut the box, or leave it open, a relatively meaningless decision, just like the ability to dress Leah in three colors: tawny, midnight black, or blood red. If you leave the music box on, it continues to play the supremely creepy tones throughout the entire house...and when you leave it alone, the music continues to play...when you move into other rooms, it gets softer.


Everything in the house can be interacted with. Every light switch can be flicked on and off. Every drawer can be rifled through. The plants can be watered and sometimes THEY GROW. The toilets can be flushed. The piano can be played. The computer used. The phone (IT RINGS SOMETIMES) answered, if you make it in time. Some of these things are crucial to advance the game. Some of them don't matter at all. The house is the most fully realized and convincing environment in any RM game ever. THE. HOUSE. IS. ALIVE.

If you play this alone and think about what it is doing, you will be haunted.

From the totally slick animated menu screen and the chilling, Dark City-esque intro to the brilliantly ambiguous ending, every graphic, every sound, ever description....perfect. Some little details I didn't notice until I watched my girlfriend replay the game before reviewing ...at some point, as somewhere outside the microcosm of the house, Birdie flew over Europe, and approached Africa, the continents on the world map in the lounge vanished one by one.

A triumph of atmosphere, hyperbole be damned.

Presentation Score: 5.0/5.0 AKA 10/10 AKA 100% AKA A++

This game made me obsessive compulsive. For some reason I needed to have a full bucket on me and have all three sinks filled with water, at all times, before doing anything. The puzzles are clever. The puzzles themselves were like what you'd find in a any text adventure, point and click third person LucasArts style adventure game, or any modern game like Resident Evil, Silent Hill, or, for the indie scene, Backstage...only better. What at first I thought were game breaking glitches weren't; this phenomenon was nicely lampshaded by the clever title screen changing to say "Yes, I know about this glitch." the first time that I quit on it, trapped in a burning house I'd set fire to myself.

It does not have any battles. Few of the puzzles were truly deep, complex, or involving. And it is very short. That is why it did not receive a perfect score. BUT...

The gameplay approaches the INEFFABLE at times, requiring you to use dream logic to defeat the game's puzzles. In short, this is a game in which the correct choice, when you have set the house on fire, is to go back to bed amidst the flames. Brilliant.

Gameplay Score: 4/5 (8 out of 10)

The Mirror Lied is the ultimate triumph of atmosphere, presentation, and polish supporting a strong premise. It is truly different than any other games. It is emotionally and cognitively involving. It is my favorite RMXP game.

Final Score (NOT AN AVERAGE): 4.5/5 Stars (9/10)


Pages: 1
No matter how great it is, can 15-20 mins really be worth such a score?
Max McGee
with sorrow down past the fence
*click to edit*
Are you implying that only 20+ hour epics deserve a high rating? I hope not.
It's actually pretty impressive, I'd try it if I were you
I tried this game but it was far too vague for me. I don't like stories to be too ambiguous. Gameplay wise and graphically it was great though.
Max McGee
with sorrow down past the fence
But the story is like a canvas onto which you paint your own meta-story. It's quite brilliant, actually.

I'm usually fairly hard to impress, so, yeah.
No matter how great it is, can 15-20 mins really be worth such a score?

I think it can be more difficult to make a compelling game that short, so I would definitely say it is.
Actually I must say I gave this another shot earlier today because without me knowing... The ambiguous story started haunting my mind and I just had to play again for a clue on what it was all about.
post=Dark Gaia
Actually I must say I gave this another shot earlier today because without me knowing... The ambiguous story started haunting my mind and I just had to play again for a clue on what it was all about.


( I love this game more than you did max) (:
A bit late to throw in my two cents, but I adored this game. And scared the hell out of me too. XD I agree with the reviewer. The minimalism and mind screw are used effectively, the music box is *creepy*, and Birdy rouses some serious stalker paranoia with those phone calls. The atmosphere was so engrossing that I practically forgot about the battered English usage (which I normally notice). XD
author=Max McGee
I'm usually fairly hard to impress, so, yeah.

Funny, when I saw you gave it 4 1/2 stars, I started downloading it while reading the review.
Pages: 1