It seems that lately I’ve been drawn to indie adventure games, entranced by unique aesthetics and interesting storytelling techniques. Fe is one of those titles, though it feels a little weird to call it an “indie” title when it’s published by Electronic Arts. It is the first in the new EA Originals line; indies published by EA but made by other studios, it’s the brainchild of Zoink games and is a gem with some rough edges. The game is an interesting adventure, that relies solely on the game to tell the story, and no dialogue, text, or clear exposition. It reminds me of ABZU in this way. You are along for the ride with the cute, fox-like creature Fe, and mostly it succeeds but can fall a little flat sometimes in the controls and gameplay department.
The story behind Fe, at least from what I could tell, takes place in a large forested area, that is being invaded by robot-like invaders known as Silent Ones. You control Fe, who comes across the Silent Ones as they are rampaging through the forest, capturing various wildlife and appear to be searching for something. As the game goes on, through some interesting flashbacks, it starts to become a bit more clear to the player what the Silent Ones are doing in the forest. As the story progresses you’ll save various animals, do little tasks for others, and gain abilities to help Fe further along its’ quest to figuring out what the Silent Ones want and how to be rid of them once and for all. That is basically the gist of the story, however, there are interesting observations made by the developers about nature, and the interconnectedness of it, all of which helped to make the world of Fe seem that much more alive. At the end of the adventure I was satisfied with the journey, but still wished that I knew a little bit more about the world, the creatures, and even where the Silent Ones came from.
The gameplay in Fe is fairly decent but has its flaws, especially in the controls. The game is an adventure game, with a decent bit of platforming, but I found that I would miss the jumps here or there due to the camera, or not being able to know quite where I was lining my jumps up with and Fe just kind of veered off into nothingness. There would be other times where I would think that I was jumping onto an appropriate surface but Fe would kind of bounce off of it or not quite stop how I wanted him to stop. Other than some finicky control issues, the game is decent, and throughout the game, you will acquire new skills that allow you to reach otherwise unreachable areas, much like a Metroidvania game. You see, Fe sings, and can sing with other animals. You need to learn new songs, however, and once you learn the songs you can go to other animals and they’ll often help you out in finding some new secrets or getting to a new area. Again, this idea of interconnectedness in the realm of Fe is really interesting and plays out well, with animals assisting each other in their own way.
Some of my favorite parts, however, were the stealth sections, of which there are a few, but they aren’t too challenging, It was nice to be forced to slow things down and take in the aesthetics of the game while sneaking from bush to bush past Silent Ones. There are also a number of glyphs to find in each level, that kind of tell bits of the story or give you hints on what to do, and it was always interesting whenever I would stumble on one to see what pictures were on them. There are other hidden collectibles that you can poke around for, adding some extra length to the overall game experience. It took a little over three hours to beat, but would likely take a couple more at least to find everything in the game. I’m not sure if you unlock anything special for finding everything, but it definitely adds a little extra for the completionist gamers that like to track everything down in a game.
What originally drew me to Fe when I first saw it, was the visual style, and it definitely does not disappoint. The worlds are jagged and stylized, but still can feel organic, and the creature designs are always intriguing. I would be excited when I got to a new area just because I wanted to see what birds and animals lived in that section of the forest and mountain. The color palette used in the game was also of note, as the world is often awash in purples and oranges, all cool colors, and it always evokes a calmness, even when the game should be hectic. I also really enjoyed the music, which is the kind of instrumental, chill pieces you would expect from a title like this, but with one exception. The cello is featured heavily throughout the game, which honestly you don’t hear a ton in games, but it is the perfect piece to the soundtrack. The score is brilliant and will definitely be added to my Youtube rotation of favorite gaming soundtracks.
Fe runs fairly well on the Switch, both docked and in handheld mode and of course a little bit better docked than handheld. In handheld, I noticed a few times where the framerate would dip a little bit, but really a minimal amount and nothing that ever ended up affecting any jumping sections for me. I could see it happening once in a while though, but still likely not enough to affect a playthrough only on handheld. The game looks really good, however, I noticed that when it was docked, it was easy to spot jaggies and gaps between polygons in the landscape. Not that big of a deal, especially as it is coming from a smaller indie studio, but still something I haven’t really noticed in other games as much in the current generation of titles.
All in all, Fe was a cute little adventure game. A little short and the lack of instructions or clear narrative made things confusing from time to time. The game though does have a charming style, and a great score, and is another fantastic indie title to add to the Switch’s great indie library. If you’re a fan of games like ABZU or Journey, then definitely give Fe a look; it may be the forest you were destined to save.