After playing a preview of Fe with Zoink! Games in New York City, I was excited to get my hands on the full game and jump into its world. Fe follows the story of a small, fox/porcupine protagonist as it sings, glides and climbs around in order to save the forest and its animal friends from the vaguely sinister beings known as the Silent Ones. A game entirely without words, Fe is dependent on using the sounds of your small protagonist and those of the forest around you in order to overcome adversity and save everyone.
Fe is supremely relaxing by design. Are the puzzles hard? No, not really, but they’re also not meant to be. This isn’t a game that’s designed to test your fine motor skills, it’s a game that’s meant to be an experience. It’s a relaxing, interactive journey. Some of the puzzles do require a bit of thinking, but the game lets you call birds for help to show you where to go when you get lost and there are waypoints on the map that can be turned on or off for your convenience.
Though the game does have a general plotline, individual areas usually host multiple ways to solve puzzles and get to where you need to go. Just because you choose one route over another doesn’t mean someone else necessarily has the same solution. For example, there's a puzzle late in the game where you bounce across giant floating jellyfish. There is not just one straight line of jellyfish that everyone must bounce along, there are multiple strings set out over a grid that form a variety of different paths across the area.
The narrative is where Fe’s weakness shows the most. Telling a story without words is always going to be difficult. Even after finishing the game, I’m honestly still not sure what exactly happened. The narrative is very loose, consisting of discoverable "glyphs" on giant rocks and stones you can view inside the abandoned helmets of the Silent Ones. Because the game doesn’t force you to collect all the helmets or unlock all the glyphs, it’s entirely possible that I’ve missed a portion of the narrative on my first playthrough, but what was there was enjoyable to uncover regardless.
The one thing I still don’t understand that actually bugged me is the fish. In almost any body of water, these sea denizens were determined to eat you. It seemed like an odd contrast that you can become friends with everything on land and sky, yet you turn into fish food if you stick your toe in the water for more than two seconds. On the other hand, it was a nice aversion to the usual video game mechanic of characters drowning in six inches of water, so I suppose it’s a fair trade-off.
Fe's mechanics are straightforward and easy to use. You get around by moving and gliding, learning the different languages of the plants and animals around you in order to interact with them. My favorite mechanic of the game by far is using the glide in combination with the orange flowers of the deer language. By activating these flowers in mid-air, they give you a boost upwards and you can almost continuously glide from one to the next in a path around some of the main areas of the game without ever touching the ground.
Fe’s graphics are lovely, and the way they interplay with the lighting is quite fun. As you move through the game the biggest factor distinguishing the areas of the map is the color of the lighting. The sections themselves are fairly similar, with the exception of the blue snowy area and the green jungle-type area, but when you enter and exit a new part of the map the lighting changes around you, turning it pink, blue, green, purple, etc. The only trouble I had with the graphics was occasionally the shading in corners made it difficult to discern if it was actually a corner or if it was a dark passage. Alternately, this could also be solved by adding more textures to the rocks.
My biggest problem with Fe was definitely the camera work. You don’t have much control over where the camera is in relation to your character, though you can swing it around to see your surroundings. That doesn’t exactly help when the camera thinks it needs to be about three inches from the back of your head when you could really do with more of an overhead shot. It doesn’t impede gameplay but there were a couple of sections where it was difficult to tell if you were safe from the monsters venturing out from what I affectionately call “camouflage grass.”
Overall, Fe is a fun and relaxing game, with cute puzzles and an adorable protagonist. It’s not the most challenging thing ever, but it’s not meant to be. While the camerawork could use some, well, work, and the story narrative is murky, neither of these factors impedes the game from being a delightful experience. While it wasn't quite what I was expecting from an EA Originals game, I'm certainly looking forward to more of these types of experiences in the future.
Our Fe review was conducted on PlayStation 4 with a code provided by the developer. It is also available on Xbox One and PC via Origin.
Fe is an enjoyable puzzle platformer with an adorable protagonist. The camerawork and murky narratives could both be improved, but neither prevents this from being a fun, forest adventure.(Review Policy)
- Relaxing Experience
- Cute Protagonist
- Easy to Grasp Mechanics
- Poorly Placed Camera Angles
- Murky Narrative