Updated: Jan 7, 2020
Developer: Zoink! Games
Fe was published by big EA as part of the EA Originals, it was developed by Zoink! Games, an indie studio. Although this indie game came from a powerful publisher, it didn't capture all that much attention when it came out, so I'd like to spotlight it in this review. Fe's trailer peaked my interest and I made an impulse buy during a Nintendo E-Shop sale. Fe is a 3D action-adventure game where you play as as Fe, mysterious and small fox-like creature. This world you explore is dark and ominous, but it feels limitless as you can run, climb, and glide your way around. You meet other creatures along the way who grant you further abilities that will help you through this desolate land.
Fe is a quiet experience completely devoid of dialogue. The game forces you to try to understand your surroundings and the other creatures with either no explanation or some small sort of demonstration. At the beginning, this can cause you to feel isolated and lost, as no clear direction or motive is given. However, this quickly turns very liberating and exciting. The game's world isn't huge, per se, but feels pretty limitless as a small creature who can also glide through the air. This world's color palette is, as it appears in the cover, very purple and pink. Through long playtimes this palette can get a bit overwhelming, thankfully some areas provide a slight change of scenery and a small variation in color. I thoroughly enjoy the beautiful, twisted landscapes nonetheless, as they play with the idea of nature in a world that seems very different from Earth.
Although there is no spoken dialogue, Fe has an important mechanic that is slightly reminiscent of the last game I reviewed, Wandersong. The protagonist creature can communicate with other species of creatures using a wheel of what could be called songs, calls, or languages. You start with only one sound available to you, your own species' cry, but along your journey you learn the languages of all the strange fauna and flora you discover. Using these, you can summon help from both animal companions and plants. Bird creatures to guide you and fly you up high, deer-like creatures that let you ride them much faster than you normally could walk, small water reptiles that let you hold them and are... terrifyingly adorable. There's much more than these I listed, and you'll need all of them in some way. In this silent, dark world, you feel a genuine connection once you've made contact with these creatures.
Now, I have yet to address that there is a real objective in this game, although it's only shown to you in pieces. This world is invaded by fearsome "Silent Ones", creatures that patrol the area and attack all living creatures. It's not clear even now what the objective of these monsters are, but they will have no mercy for you if they spot you. Fe has no combat, so your only choices are to use stealth and to run as fast as you can when you've been spotted. When exploring, you encounter artifacts that seem to carry within them recorded memories from the Silent Ones. These brief moments give you the most explanation that this game will grant you about their actions and history prior to your journey. What's most impressive about this game as how Fe, as a tiny creature, takes on these armies of monsters using its strengths and not using violence, and is able to save great (sometimes giant) majestic creatures from the harm caused by the monsters.
I jumped back into this game briefly right before writing this review, since it's been some time since I completed the game, and I remember how much of a relaxing experience it is. The ambient music and the beautiful natural sounds make it a game you can play without achieving anything for a while and it still be an enjoyably experience. There's a good bit of post-game content which makes for a good completionist, but I haven't brought myself to finish up the last bits yet. However, I'm now reminded how well this game can provide as a break from high-action games, if you just feel like flying around and playing with some animals.
Fe feels quite Zelda-esque compared to the other games I've reviewed one here, which is definitely a point in its favor. At the same time, the lack of combat and instruction makes it a completely different genre. It's not the first of its style, however, there are other games out there that have followed a somewhat similar formula. The art style unique and gorgeous, it will trap you for hours at a time in its very organic but at times scary world. If you're into peaceful exploration and don't need dialogue or detailed story-telling, you'll enjoy this strange little gem.
Fe is available for Nintendo Switch, PC, PS4, and Xbox One.
Played on: Nintendo Switch
Playtime: 10 hrs
How I heard about this game: Nintendo e-Shop sale and the trailer caught my attention