STAFF REVIEW of Fe (Xbox One)

Wednesday, April 11, 2018.
by Jennifer Dingle

Fe Box art The highly-anticipated first entry in the EA Originals library, Fe, from developer Zoink! Games, is a stylish action-adventure platformer that has finally made its way to console (and PC). With a promise of discovering a world that I would never want to leave, a living breathing forest filled with secrets, legends, and mystical creatures, I had pretty high hopes that this game would be nothing less than amazing. Unfortunately, after my play through, I was left feeling somewhat disappointed with this beautiful but frustrating game.

An adorable, spikey-headed, fox/wolf-like creature who leaps and bounds along the trails of a beautiful forest, Fe (assuming that’s his/her name, as it was never really indicated in the game), sets forth on a journey to free other forest animals from the evil grasp of one-eyed robots called the Silent Ones. At least that’s what I think is going on. We get a brief glimpse of what’s happening through crystals that are found through the forest and a cutscene that you will find here and there. There’s no dialogue, nor is there any plot or distinct narrative to follow. And there’s no instruction or tutorial. You are left to discover and learn everything, and I do mean everything, on your own.

As you traverse throughout the beautiful forest, little Fe encounters plants and animals that assist him on his journey. For example, a deer that allows you to ride on its back, a pack of lizards that open a flower for you to bounce on, even odd-looking worms who whisk you away through a wormhole in an effort to allow you to reach an unreachable platform. Fe’s relationship with the forest creatures helps him on his quest to rid the forest of the Silent Ones.

The forest creatures are shy at first, often running away, or in the case of the birds, they actually push you out of their nest. This is where one of the key game mechanics comes into play. As the game progresses, Fe learns to hum to gain the favour of his fellow forest inhabitants. An adorable warble that springs to life flower platforms for Fe to jump across or a tune that opens a bud that sends him soaring across a gap or river, these various songs are learned after completing a side quest such as collecting eggs for a giant bird or freeing a massive deer from the grasp of the Silent Ones. You also collect pink crystals scattered throughout the world, and once you have accumulated enough of these orbs you can also unlock songs which can be accessed on a wheel with a simple click of the left trigger.

I sometimes found myself a bit lost as I played through Fe. While the game is quite linear, you can still stray off to explore and search for crystals, and you may just find yourself a bit disoriented. Thankfully, early in the game, you befriend a Navi-like bird who flutters in the direction you need to go. There is no combat, but the Silent Ones, and the odd enemy here and there, add for some rather terrifying encounters where Fe needs to sneak past, which adds a bit of stealth element to the gameplay.

Unfortunately, I found the platforming and the controls to be unintuitive, clunky and even downright frustrating at times. I often found myself clumsily falling to the bottom of an area after an accidental button press, only to begin the long climb all over again, and the polygonal rocks and trees led to more than a few instances of getting stuck in the environment and having to restart the game.

I’ve heard from some that the game can easily be completed in about 3 to 4 hours. Perhaps it’s a testament of my platforming skills, but that certainly wasn’t the case for me. I easily invested at least 8-10 hours or more, exploring every corner, figuring out the Zelda-esque puzzles and attempting to collect crystals previously missed when I obtained a new ability.

In regards to the presentation, the gorgeous, stylish environments make Fe simple stunning to look at, filled with muted colours mostly in shades of blue, pink, and purple. I sometimes found myself standing on top of a tree or a cliff, admiring my surroundings, just taking everything in. The music was quiet, sometimes barely audible as Fe traipsed around the forest, but when heard the soft sounds of string instruments beautifully set the tone for Fe’s epic adventure.

At the end of the day, underneath the gorgeous environments and the adorable creatures, is an average platform game that at times isn’t very fun to play. Fe isn’t an awful game though, but it’s a bit disappointing, and I feel as though there definitely could have been some additional polish to make the experience better. That being said, I was addicted to collecting songs, discovering crystals and making friends with a lovable group of forest creatures. If you can get over the frustrating platforming and sometimes clunky controls, you should definitely check out this stylish and unique first entry in the EA Orginals library.

Overall: 7.1 / 10
Gameplay: 6.0 / 10
Visuals: 8.0 / 10
Sound: 7.0 / 10


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