Available On: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC (Reviewed on Nintendo Switch)
Developer: Zoink! Games
Publisher: Electronic Arts
Genre: Action-Adventure, Platformer
Official Site: Fe
Release Date: February 6th, 2018
Where to Buy: PlayStation Store. Nintendo eShop, Xbox Store, Origin ($19.99)
Since its announcement at E3 2016, Fe has been on my gaming radar. The bright colors and the geometric look of the characters paired with cool platforming are all a win in my book. And while Fe still delivers on some of these features, there is much to be desired. While its good, I truly believe it could have been great with more polish and clarity. A severely unclear narrative paired with some clunky mechanics and missed opportunities made for a somewhat disappointing experience.
Fe is the story of a fox-like creature that communicates with the world around it by singing. Finding yourself in the middle of the forest, you will glide and bounce your way through to discover all the mysteries and secrets it holds. When The Silent Ones begin to disrupt the harmony of the forest, it is up to Fe to return order. However, everything is connected and may not be what it appears. By learning the different songs of the creatures in the forest, you will work together to bring peace to your home.
All of that being said, Fe’s narrative is unclear at best. Without any use of dialogue, it feels like it’s trying to replicate a similar experience to that of Journey, but it just doesn’t connect. Even after I had finished the game, I still didn’t quite understand what was going on. Even the cutscenes that are (or what I assume to be) backstory are slow and confusing. While the overall narrative was a bit of a mess, helping the individual creatures of the world was a joy.
In order for Fe to communicate with various creatures in the world, you have to learn their songs. Each creature has a unique song, and each song has unique abilities within the world. These encounters are definitely charming even if they are somewhat repetitive. Gliding through the environments on the backs of giant birds or herding groups of some of the cutest baby lizards you have ever seen will definitely leave a smile on your face. However, I really wish they had used this mechanic more often and in more unique ways.
With singing being such a huge component, the sound design is crucial. And Fe does everything right in this aspect. Each song really sounds representative of the creature it comes from, and the soundtrack totally sets the tone for the rest of the game. It is meditative and relaxing, and it does a beautiful job of enhancing your experience without taking over completely. Every bit of music and every sound effect sounds like it truly belongs in the world, and it is hands down one of the best parts of the game.
Fe is visually striking experience as well. Its dull neon color scheme coupled with the geometric shapes used to form the world make for a truly vivid environment. It’s beautiful, but everything has an edge of darkness that really completes the experience. My only complaint visually is one that applies only to the Switch. When I played on my television, I had a continued issue of colors and textures popping in and out. This was super distracting, but I didn’t see it happen while playing on the Switch itself.
As a platformer, Fe doesn’t do anything particularly interesting. Most of the time I felt slow and clunky, and this made some parts infuriating. With such a small character, you would expect your movements to be sharper and quicker, but it just isn’t the case. However, jumping from tree to tree is much quicker (and more fun), but it comes with its own set of frustrations. Some trees would require you to hit them just right while others were much more forgiving. All in all, the gameplay mechanics could have benefitted from a little more attention.
Ultimately, Fe has some charming elements, and it isn’t a bad way to spend a few hours. However, its biggest disappointment is the multiple missed opportunities. With a clearer story, more polished mechanics, greater use of the singing, and a more distinct direction, this really could be something great. Regardless, in the future, I am looking forward to seeing more from Zoink Games! All in all, Fe will leave you puzzled and relaxed (and mildly frustrated), but it is an interesting addition to anyone’s Switch library.
Verdict: Fe is a puzzle-platformer with some super interesting concepts, but it doesn’t quite deliver. With an unclear story, repetitive environments, and clunky controls, parts of Fe will leave you asking yourself why you’re playing. However, the singing component and vividly striking graphics will keep you pushing forward to the end.
- Excellent sound design
- Prismatic environments
- Singing Component
- Unclear Story
- Frustrating Controls
- Lack of Polish or Clarity