You guys ready for a game that exists on an almost pure Zen level? Maybe it’s all the white knuckle PUBG that I have been playing, or the fact that everything on the news is a bummer nowadays, but Fe was an almost medicinal experience for me in contrast. It’s simultaneously relaxing, horrifying and thought-provoking all while being pretty dang adorable. Yea, I know. That’s a heck of a lot of traits to have but the team over at Zoink! seriously manage to pull em off effortlessly.
Fe begins in a Nordic forest where invaders called The Silent Ones interrupt the forests ecosystem by harvesting plant and animal life for their own advancement. You step into the paws of Fe, an adorable creature who acts as the voice of the forest. It’s up to you to tune yourself into the voice of the forest in order to save the day and your little adorable homies of the wild.
Where some games might beat you over the head with tutorials and direction, Fe allows players to figure mechanics out for themselves and pave their own path of exploration. The game encourages exploration at every turn by rewarding you with hidden goodies spread throughout the wilderness.
The polygon-based art style uses minimalism in fantastic ways. The world is made up of vibrant neon eye candy, changing hues as Fe moves from quadrant to quadrant. The effect is immersive and dreamlike. Ultimately, the strange and beautiful cocktail that Fe serves up make for an experience where you are at ease with just roaming around taking in the sights objective free.
There is a certain haunting brutality added by the invasion of the Silent Ones. Their H.G. Wellian appearance, and animations really do cut the image of proper villains but something about their cold methods of harshly harvesting the helpless animals of the forest is pretty mean stuff adding to the villainy. These villains remind me of something, and they are designed to… more on that later.
In order to progress, Fe is required to learn different animal’s languages. For example, to be able to get an assist from birds, you have to help a bird elder out with a certain objective. After learning that language, areas you might have missed before are now accessible to you. The more relics and old ruins you explore the more knowledge you get into the backstory.
Singing the song of the forest in different languages gets you the help of all kinds of animals each with their own unique abilities. If you ever get stuck simply singing may offer some surprises to assist in further exploration.
The entire game looks remarkable and has a special approach to character/level design and overall game play. This is EA’s first outing with its indie developer-centric “EA Originals,” and a good sign that this branch of EA might be distributing some surprisingly innovative content.
The scariest take away from such a great gaming experience is the nail on the head allegory that the game presents. Humans are obviously the Silent Ones here, presenting a quiet powerful menace. It’s a challenging narrative when put under that lens. It’s horrifying because so are we, and for a game to offer that kind of food for thought is pretty dang great in my opinion.
Fe is an elegant indie title that is powered by a evocative searing score. (I need this soundtrack on some kind of special edition vinyl right away) Past the positive propulsive message that makes up the narrative is a wonderfully, haunting 3D platformer that is equal parts Journey, equal parts Okami and equal parts its own unique little beast. It’s a refreshing title that I’m excited to revisit.
Fe is out now on Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4 and Xbox One.