Ever since Fe was shown off during EA’s event at E3 2016 I’ve wanted to explore it’s haunting neon landscapes, and the fact that it was coming to the Switch made it a must buy for me. Released as part of Electronic Arts’ new Originals program, Fe is a bit of a departure from Zoink’s normal style of game. There is no humour here. Instead you explore a vast alien world full of peaceful animals, large objects to climb, and eventually — Silent Ones to avoid.
In Fe you take on the roll of a small fox-like creature thrust into an alien world. The game contains no text or voice-overs so the whole story is told through the world you inhabit. The only form of communication in the world and its creatures is done through singing. Holding down the right trigger will cause Fe to sing out in the selected voice. There are multiple voices in the game and you progress through it by helping out various animals and learning their calls. These voices allow you to interact with various plants in the game to help you reach out of the way areas, to hitch rides and to even cause the bioluminescent mushrooms to light up dark paths.
Communicating with the animals in the game is done through a small minigame-like sequence. When you would like an animal to help you, and you have unlocked that species’ voice, you can hold down the trigger to start singing. If the animal is interested they will start to sing too and then you have to “tune” your voice by tilting your controller to harmonize with them. Hold the animals desired pitch for long enough and they will become your friend and help you out. It’s a neat system, though after hearing that this tuning is done on other platforms by squeezing their analogue trigger buttons, it makes me miss that functionality with the Switch’s hardware.
As you progress through the story you eventually run into the bad guys in this story, the Silent Ones. Since you really have no way to attack these silent stalkers directly, your song becomes the swiss army knife that you use to solve every puzzle in the game. Each new section of the world has a new animal type and a new plant that stands in your way. Perform a series of tasks for the “leader” of the area and they will teach you their song. Some of these animals will battle the Silent Ones for you, others will offer a ride to get past these enemies. When in doubt, sing.
Like all good exploration games, Fe has a series of well hidden collectibles for you to find. Ability shards are hidden in hard to reach areas and you can upgrade you movement based powers by finding these. You’ll find large stone slabs in each area and singing near these will reveal an etching depicting a small part of the game’s story. For more story you’ll have to find certain dead Silent Ones and sing to their empty helmet. Doing this will force out a sort of memory orb that will give you a glimpse into the life of one of the Silent Ones when you touch it. These story moments were cool to see, but by the end of the game I was still confused as to what the story was really about.
While playing I did notice frequent frame rate drops when running into new areas, though nothing that really impacted my play. The art and sound design of the various parts of the world more than made up for any technical hiccups I encountered. Sounds flowed and changed while running through the lands. The music would get more dramatic when approaching the Silent Ones, and would fade back to something more flowery and atmospheric. I hope that Zoink plans to release the game’s soundtrack at some point, it would be perfect music to chill out to while working.
All in all Fe took me around 4 hours to complete. The game is very linear and I was never at a loss as to what I should be doing next to progress the story. If I was ever stuck, singing for a few seconds would bring in a little bird helper who would direct me to the next objective. That was a nice addition, but made me feel like the the world was originally envisioned as a much bigger place that had to be scaled back during development.
The world of Fe encouraged my exploration and I was constantly surprised and rewarded with cool new environments to explore. While I’m not sure if I will be hunting down the rest of the collectibles needed to 100% the game, I was quite happy with my time playing Fe.
- Beautiful world to explore
- The story is told entirely without text
- Framerate drops
- Very linear
I played a digital copy of Fe that was purchased. If you have any questions on our review scale please see our About page.