First Impression: Fe

Fe puts players in the shoes of a fox-like creature who acts as the titular hero for the game.  As you explore the vibrant forest world on offer you quickly come into contact with the Silent Ones, which are anthropomorphic beetle creatures that act as the antagonists of the game.  They are kidnapping the animals of the forest and it is up to Fe to save the day.  Along the way, finding other forest animals that will help guide them past obstacles or show them the way.

The story of Fe is told from a very minimalistic approach, after a short cinematic, players are placed in the shoes of Fe and set loose to wander around the world.  Along the way, players find some runes and glyphs which allow them to draw interpretations about the world.  Such a style works in the game’s favor as this allows players to create their own narratives as they journey through the forest.  The game also does an excellent job of presenting the Silent Ones as the primary threat.  Whenever they’re on screen the music shifts to a much darker melody and the jerky unnatural movements of the Silent Ones is a bit unnerving.  These elements play well off of each other to make the Silent Ones effective antagonists without ever explaining a single thing to players.

 

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In-game map, objectives are noted as the green icon.

 

At its core, the gameplay of  Fe is entirely based on the concept of sound.  When Fe meets a new creature it must learn their song, either matching their pitch and holding it or changing pitch to match their pattern.  Doing this allows Fe to learn new abilities or pass obstacles.  Silence is also important though as Fe has no way to directly fight, which means stealth is required for encounters with the Silent Ones or other antagonistic creatures.  While bushes will conceal you their ruffling will make noise.  The sound is easy to spot as everything that makes sound produces a visual effect that radiates out from the source.

In the case of Fe, this is very much a game to be experienced, a journey to be had.  There is practically no combat, no crafting and no NPC interactions outside of singing.  Though the narrow scope in focus allowed the developer to deliver a well-crafted adventure.  However, anyone looking for anything more action-oriented, or with a faster pace of gameplay will be disappointed with the game.  Some players may also find the narrow focus to lead to the game becoming dull or repetitive very quickly, which is a valid concern though not an experience had during gameplay.

 

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Silent Ones cornering and capturing a small deer.

 

A controller comes highly recommended for this game, while the keyboard and mouse controls are serviceable.  The mouse-driven controls for singing are less than ideal and become easier to handle upon switching to a controller.  From a technical standpoint, the controls work very well, interactions felt snappy and jumping never felt imprecise or floaty.

The developer used audio and visual elements to craft a charming world.  While the models are low poly, the use of deep tones and contrasting light colors create a visually appealing world.  Paired with the well-composed music the developers created an atmospheric world.  Using the music entirely to convey the emotional weight of the moment to moment gameplay.

 

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Fe sneaking while Silent Ones are nearby, being caught sends you back to a checkpoint.

 

PROS

  • Well crafted world
  • The minimalistic story allows players to fill in the blanks and create their own journey

CONS

  • Origin exclusive
  • Some players may find that game becomes dull or repetitive quickly

Final Thoughts

Let’s start by dealing with the elephant in the room, this game is an Origin exclusive.  This game was published by EA in an attempt to cater to indie developers and gain indie support to try to grow Origin as a platform.  While this may work out well for EA, in the long run, there are real concerns for the early games that are part of the EA Originals initiative.  EA has over its life especially recently built a name for itself as a place where studios go to die, a place where money matters more than artistry.  These greedy practices have made anything published by EA an automatic no buy and quite frankly I understand the opinions of these consumers.  However, Fe is a diamond in the rough, a game that isn’t perfect but deserving of better.  My only hope is that Zoink can find some way to get the game on other platforms or word of mouth convinces players to at least give this game a try.

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