Fe review: A breathtaking journey into a world of hope

Credits: Zoing Games/EA Originals
Credits: Zoing Games/EA Originals /

Fe is a breathtakingly well-done 3D platformer by Zoink Games, which tells its story through audio and visual queues, allowing players to absorb this game’s rather bold statement on how humans treat the very world they call home.

Developer: Zoink Games
Publisher: EA
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 (Version reviewed), Xbox One, PC
Release Date: February 16, 2018

Since the release of Ori and the Blind Forest and Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, I’ve been hard-pressed to find a game that captivated me as those two had. Their story, their emotional grip, and creative directions were unique in many ways. But in comes Swedish developer Zoink Games with the promise of doing just what I had hoped to see based on the promise of Fe’s announcement trailer.

Published by Electronic Arts as part of their EA Originals brand, Fe is a captivating tale about a creature named Fe. Fe is a tiny, black, fox-like creature who sings as he traverses the Nordic Forest and meets its inhabitants. As he travels, he experiences hope, wonderment, and a sense of danger as an unspoken threat enters the world, one that speaks of the dangerous effects that we humans have on our world.

Credits: Zoink Games/EA Originals
Credits: Zoink Games/EA Originals /

Fe starts players off in the middle of some snowy woods, ones where the grounds sparkle and glimmer with life through the developers’ use of bright and vivid colors. Despite how beautiful the land is, something about it ushers in a sense of vulnerability. Perhaps the feeling comes from the fact you are small, you’re alone, and you have little knowledge of the lands you are in.

But when I met my first creature within Fe, a deer-like animal, I felt my vulnerability leave me as we interacted through song by hitting a pitch the deer desired. Each creature you meet has a distinct line, each plant has its specific note that must be used. I was enchanted by these moments, enamored by the beauty of what Zoink had created. After all, sound design is key when it comes to a game like this and for Zoink to master it and craft something as splendid as Fe, I couldn’t turn away from the moment I started.

Credits: Zoink Games/EA Originals
Credits: Zoink Games/EA Originals /

Fe strikes a single blow of vulnerability and wonderment within its opening moments. Even when I met my first companion, whom I would find I’d have to approach slowly so as not to scare them off, I learned that things weren’t as simple as they initially seemed. Even as a creature as small as Fe, my movements and actions came with a resounding impact on the world about me. My only way to speak with others was by pushing my back right trigger in just the right manner once they came to me, speaking back in their own unique way.

Whether it was the sound of the world about me singing or the soft and enchanting atmospheric music playing, Fe delivers an emotional impact unlike any other. But Fe isn’t your average 3D platformer. While I certainly found myself bouncing about within minutes of starting, there’s something magical underneath a game with controls as simple as its own. The controls seemed to be a second thought outside of the games artistic and auditory designs.

Credits: Zoink Games/EA Originals
Credits: Zoink Games/EA Originals /

After becoming acquainted with the simple control scheme, I found myself darting about. I’d guide Fe through the forest floor, bounce through water, jump on rocks and use flowers to bounce higher than Fe could on his own. After meeting various creatures, I soon found myself once more alone in this massive world, one where an unknown invader had begun to capture my friends, friends I’d sung to, friends that had helped me find my way.

But while they had the power to fight back, I found myself empowered by my use of stealth, observation and cunning. I would more often than not dart for the nearest bit of tall grass, a place where these invaders couldn’t find me. In truth, that’s where the beauty in Fe truly begins. It’s a tale of creation, destruction, and the need to protect the land you call home. It’s about adapting and surviving in order to overcome the odds that will stare you down.

In order to overcome those very odds, Fe has to set out countless times to collect little red shards, ones that enable him to obtain new powers such as climbing trees, gliding from tree to tree, or picking up fruit-like items and then using them to break the prison-like structures the invaders made. One point in the game, I found myself performing a puzzle-like circuit around a deer spirit. Jumping from a cliff onto a tree on its back right leg only to dart to its very top before jumping to a nearby truck only to continue my journey up, up, and away. Before long, Fe found himself standing before this mighty creature, learning its song and helping guide it home.

Credits: Zoink Games/EA Originals
Credits: Zoink Games/EA Originals /

Every single creature would come to have a purpose, and they would provide me with a sense of meaning through my now not-so-lonely journey. Bears would maul through groups of invaders, opening paths I would never have been able to take otherwise. In other cases, I would find myself hopping onto the backs of boar-like creatures, destroying orbs on their tails that made them serve the invaders, which I’d learn were called the Silent Ones. Eventually, I’d even find broken Silent Helmets and begin to learn of their strange and dangerous journey, one that led them to Fe’s home, and eventually why they would begin to do what they had already been doing.

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This forest isn’t just a single area, but consists of multiple distinct and interconnected sections. Some of the environments I would explore would be dark caves that I could fill with light through song. Others would be forested streams brought to life by small squirrel-like creatures that called them home. Other areas would be the tops of icy mountain peaks with massive birds that would eventually welcome Fe as one of their own and help this little creature with its journey to restore the forest to its former self.

But some minor irritations, even in this beautiful game, arose in its overall mechanics. Many of these happened during encounters with the Silent Ones and a couple of the puzzles the were a part of. In select areas within the game, the Silent Ones are the mainstay enemy. They’re a group of robotic-looking creatures that trap any forest life they see in prison-like orbs.

Just like the deer, the birds, the fish, and many more, Fe is unable to escape these creatures with ease. They are quick to capture and unrelenting in their pursuit if players are to run rather than hide in tall areas of grass or behind rocks, trees, or other bits of the environment around them. Unfortunately, this can grow rather frustrating in later stages, especially a specific one where players are locked in a cave with the Silent Ones and creatures they have re-purposed for their cause. .

Credits: Zoink Games/EA Originals
Credits: Zoink Games/EA Originals /

Luckily, some of this is well-adjusted in later stages. Players have the ability to glide, climb trees, and get away as quickly as they can. This eliminates some of the frustrations I had with the game, but at times, these alleviations didn’t come soon enough. There were times in the early portions of the game where I found myself captured more quickly than I was spotted even if well-hidden behind a rock, up a tree, or within a bit of tall grass.

Fe is a romantic relationship between visual art and musical composition created by both the team and a player’s interaction with the world about them.

But even with these frustrations, I quickly forgot why I was growing annoyed or what had begun to try my patience once the puzzle was complete. The game would continue on, rewarding me for my hard-fought triumphs, ones where I would free massive beasts that would purge the lands of the Silent One’s assault. Great creatures such as birds and elk or deer-like creatures would sing me their song and teach me how to carry on in my quest to free the lands.

There isn’t any form of dialogue within the game. The story of Fe is told in more creative ways than spoken or written word. One is the forward progression that players make as they play the game. Another is through discovering and putting on these ‘helmets’ that the Silent Ones wear, which takes players into an interactive cutscene that tells their tale. While I’m still learning the story, Fe has yet to stop amazing me in my post-game exploration.

If anything, Fe is a game that is hard to describe for many unique reasons. Much of it comes from the fact the game isn’t just a game; it’s a living, breathing, and immaculate piece of art that Zoink Games wants players to explore. It is a romantic relationship between visual art and musical composition created by both the team and a player’s interaction with the world about them. Even when finished after a short six or so hours, Fe is a charming game, one that’s well-paced and allows players to continue to consume its beauty long after the credits roll.

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Zoink Games. . Fe. 9.5. <i>Fe</i> is a game with a massive statement to make about how we humans treat our world. Through both visual and auditory queues, Zoink Games had their work cut out for them by making a wordless, interactive story play out as a 3D platformer using atmospheric presence to tell a tale. But with very, very few exceptions, they pull this off with near-perfect artistic grace. I is a game I can easily state that you cannot miss.

A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.