Have you ever felt that playing a game was akin to a fantastic dream from your childhood? A dream full of wonder, of spectacle, of fantastic creatures? We as gamers have been given gifts in the form of games that transcend the expected and use their very atmosphere to tell a story that leaves us truly satisfied at their conclusion. Journey did it, Shadow of the Colossus did it, and it’s fair to say the mystical and fantastic Fe continues the trend.
From developer Zoink, Fe is quite possibly the turning point for EA as the premiere title in the newly established EA Originals. Players will take the reigns as Fe, a small fox-like creature that awakens in the forest and encounters a playful, deer-like friend. Things quickly take a sudden and unsettling turn as the Silent Ones appear – slender-limbed, lumbering, cycloptic machines that ensnare Fe’s friend and steal them away. This is a game that does something I didn’t know could happen in a game: it created a sense of magic. Not in the sense of spells and incantations, but the fact that this beautiful world was so heavily engrossing in life and mysticism that I felt captivated.
“an experience in gameplay that was innovative and subtle in its storytelling.”
Fe is a game of few words, and by few I mean none. The only time you will see a word on screen is a single word explaining what function something has, such as tall grass saying ‘Hide.’ The developers at Zoink were able to craft an experience in gameplay that was innovative and subtle in its storytelling. Fe’s journey is, at its heart, one about being part of nature, a part of the world. Progressing through the story will unveil a few notable twists and turns of emotions, and there were moments I felt genuinely powerful feelings towards Fe and the Silent Ones in ways both good and bad.
The game does a phenomenal job of creating a delicate balancing act of each of its parts: it’s a stealth game, it’s a platformer, it’s a puzzler, and it is one of the most positively uplifting and atmospheric games I have played in ages. Fe does not merely have music or a soundtrack, it has a score. Had Fe not had such an impactful accompaniment, it would not have felt so emotionally charged. The game relies heavily on its music to set the stage, but it does so with flying colors. While the game is each of these parts, no one aspect stands out above the rest and for some that might be a serious downside: the stealth is necessary, but not particularly challenging. The platforming is fun and innovative, but it also won’t require precision. The puzzles are beautiful and fun, but you also won’t be struggling to find the answer. Instead, the game’s payoff beyond the fantastic atmosphere is small victories in each of these tasks: solving the next problem feels good, and the music encourages you to keep pushing forward.
“If you are worried about the length of the game, don’t be, the experience is well worth it.”
Fe’s key aspect is singing. Fe’s voice is controlled with the pressure sensitivity of R2, allowing for different pitches. You’ll also be able to learn five additional languages, each one color-coded to interact with the environment in different ways. The fact this game is about communication and harmony but does it without words or even a HUD is impressive. There is something almost philosophical about the story and yet the game can easily be enjoyed by gamers of any age: kids will love it for the colors and animals, adults will love it for the overarching story that requires you to think to understand it.
While I heard others state they beat the game within five hours, I personally found it took about 18-20 hours to complete the story. This does not, however, mean I beat the game. Each area in Fe has a number of collectibles, and these collectibles will unlock additional abilities for Fe. Not only do I have several collectibles to go back and find, I can’t wait to jump back into the game and find every last one. I tend to be a gamer that likes to explore, but the narrative at hand combined with the heart-pounding score made me keep going, skipping entire sections of the game. If you are worried about the length of the game, don’t be, the experience is well worth it.
Fe is an experience more than a game. It isn’t about being challenging, about being difficult, or mentally exhausting. It exists to tell a beautiful story with no words, and in this, it absolutely excels. The score to Fe is without comparison and that alone is worth playing the game. When you add to that the adorable Fe and the forest full of unique and mystical creatures, the singing mechanic and the gorgeous art style, it’s hard to imagine someone turning this game down, especially because it is nowhere near a standard full price. With simple controls, a fun mix of stealth, platforming, and an all-around magical experience, Fe is an early front-runner for a number of GOTY awards.
**PS4 code provided by the publisher**
- Incredibly Atmospheric
- Outstanding Score
- Simple Yet Addictive Gameplay
- A Little Small