Captivating, mesmerising to the point where compulsion is a mere afterthought – I feel better for having the opportunity to experience Fe (pronounced Fee). This is art in its truest form. A visually striking third-person platformer from Zoink! Games, the Swedish developer behind ‘Stick it To The Man‘.
First and foremost, Fe is a story and it’s up to you to discover it. The gorgeous landscape is built in polygonal fashion and painted in a monotone – this sets the mood of each environment perfectly, when entering a dangerous area the world is a vibrant orange and when things are calm and serene we are treated to greens and blues.
Fe opens up to what looks like a meteor falling to the planet which splits into five pieces before crashing down. The impact reveals it wasn’t a meteor, but a small fox like creature with neon trim motifs. You are Fe, one of the five. Now this is where Fe climbs into narrative heights or falls completely flat. You see, apart from run forward and investigate, you have very little direction or motivation other than curiosity and it’s not just at the start as this becomes a constant throughout. In truth I fell in love with Fe from the offset and any motivation fatigue was rebuffed instantly but I could understand where some may loose interest.
Fe is a 3D platformer at heart – sometimes a little clunky – and you are here to save the forest… by singing. Yes, tunes. It seems the forest is under attack from a silent enemy which means to capture all life it sees and then… sacrifice it (I think). Your goal is to free/release those captured, retrieve four stolen unhatched eggs for a bird like creature 20 times your size in a bid to garner trust and thus learn the language of the birds for example.
The whole platforming environment is open from the get go but without being able to sing in one of the six animal cries/languages and the lack of a couple abilities you wont be able to just wander over the end just yet. That said, you oft pass back through earlier stages to reach an outcrop or climb and glide from a tree you couldn’t previously, often resulting in “oh, I’m back here?“. Yes, it guides you back via an alternate path to the same place but the journey back is always delightful and the new skills to return with make the old seem new again.
Every ability unlocked was a treat, even just walking along from the start of the game and playing around with the sing ability was fascinating. Right trigger allows you to sing, but howling loudly to mumbling is dictated by how much pressure you apply – phenomenally charming too. Climbing trees is next, hyper agile ascent on pretty much every tree followed by Glide to running on all fours …every single skill was beautifully thought out, top drawer world crafting skills by Zoink! Games.
The narrative is delivered on three fronts without a single ‘word’ being spoken on this short adventure. You have the real-time game elements, creatures to rescue, Silent ones to evade and trust building tasks, arriving you at the understanding of – there’s a bully in this here forest. Secondly, you find decaying helmets from fallen Silent Ones which, sing at these to pop out a gemstone that when peered through allows you to gain insight from the other team – why these guys are on a mission to destroy and steal of the toblerone. Thirdly, there are hundreds of embossed monuments throughout – defining your place in the story. From each avenue the story is woven into a wordless understanding of what’s going on and what you need to do.
So, remember above, “I feel better for playing it” well, that’s because Fe is so chill, meditative in fact. One of the greatest soundtracks I’ve had the pleasure to listen to, building the mood and ambience. The journey is why your here so just go out and embrace it.
Fe reminds me of ABZÛ, a game launched a couple years ago on PC/PS4 of similar construction, art style, narrative delivery and sound but this time in a deep ocean, both games having that same calming curiosity.
The only thing Fe falls a little short on is the need for a little more action. Around midway you encounter a gigantic Deer like creature – on par with the largest from Shadow of the Colossus – which has trees growing out of its back and legs. Using your climb and glide abilities to scale up while it’s moving around, one of the better stages but sadly a little too short and this type of action only happens the once.
Fe, a wondrously charming adventure, delivered on all senses, without handholding, told wordlessly through discovery. Collect animal cries that allow you to befriend or manipulate creatures and plants. Have birds guide and carry you, bears fight for you and have plants grow berries that help you overcome the Silent Ones. I strongly suggest picking this one up because just like me it will genuinely make you feel better.
OVERALL: 8.1/10 – GREAT
Reviewed by Michael Jones.
(Disclaimer: CONQUEST received a review copy of Fe, however this does not in any way affect the scoring of a game or our thoughts on the game itself. We believe in total honesty and being transparent with you.)