Fe is an adorable artistic adventure game set in a futuristic jungle setting where you take control of a fox-like creature. The game has no standard story mode which means it will be up to the player to construct their own story based on what they experience in this world. This narrative device has been used in many games where the interpretation of the world or characters is never explained in detail, letting the player piece together their own story. Games like INSIDE have used it masterfully but how well does Fe succeed in its world building aspect?
Fe is the main character of the game that has a hybrid appearance combining the features of various creatures that the players can encounter in the forest. These range from flying as a bird to climbing trees like a monkey. Fe can use its power of singing to work together with other animals in the forest who are being captured by strange creatures known as the ‘Silent Ones’ that are given the appearance of a robot. These can capture the animals once spotted and then throw them in a cage. They also pose a threat to Fe if they can spot him running around although their vision is restricted so it is possible to avoid them. If Fe is spotted by the Silent Ones, you will have to run around to hide before they are able to capture Fe because it can result in an instant death.
Fe is able to interact with the other creatures of the forest through his singing skill. You can get them to help you progress through the forest by forming a bond with them through singing. This aspect of the game utilizes the trigger buttons and its pressure sensitive input method. You will have to apply the right amount of pressure in order to register a bond with a creature so simply pressing the button is not enough. It feels more like a gimmick than a cleverly utilized input method, however it works out a little differently for the Nintendo Switch with its HD rumble feature. You will be required to hold the JoyCon or Pro Controller at the right angle in order to register a bond.
Gameplay wise, there is no UI on the screen which makes it a little confusing to follow the objectives however to tackle this issue, the developers have instead opted for a clever way by utilizing birds that are able to show the player the location of their next objective. You will have to use your singing first to call these birds and then signal them to lead the way for Fe so that you can get to your next objective. However, this is not always an easy task since these birds won’t show you the exact way and you might see them travelling to location which can’t be accessed leaving it up to yourself to figure out how to reach it.
The gameplay basically revolves around the singing of Fe to create bonds. You will be able to explore around the forest but there is no clear objective given so it is all up to the player to figure where to go next. Thankfully the developers have given the option to use a map that can point towards objectives but it doesn’t help in situations when the player is left stuck trying to figure out how to reach a location that they can’t normally reach. To get around, you will have to find animals, learn new abilities by collecting crystals, or try to summon birds to lead the way.
Fe has 6 different singing abilities that are used for the various animals. They are visually represented by a sign and will be gradually unlocked through the story. Once you are learn a new sound, you can get help from new creatures that will let you reach previously impossible to reach locations. One such example is seen right in the start when you have to help a forest beast collect a mysterious glowing object and once you get all of them back, the beast will teach Fe new a new song that can be used to get help from the large birds. This unlocks the ability to ride them to access previously impossible to reach locations. As you go further deep in the forest, you will learn new songs getting help from a variety of different animals. This is aside from the abilities that you will unlock by getting a set amount of crystals, like climbing a tree or gliding like a bird for a limited amount of time.
Visually, Fe offers a very unique art style that is a mixture of purple and orange color filters with sublime neon lights and glow. It can be argued that Fe simply attempts to portray some of the real life situation around preserving the wild life that are on the verge of extinction from humans, and it does seem to be the case as you play the game. Since there is no official narrative presented here, you will form your own opinion of how the forest and its creatures work along with the Silent Ones who show no remorse when capturing them. You can also see that the animals fight back whenever they are given the chance to do so, killing the Silent Ones in this process. The developers have done a good job setting up the world for the players to discover and form their opinion.
There are collectibles that you can find around the forest and some of these are also hidden well, however I didn’t really enjoy the exploration as much unfortunately due to the confusing map layout, so I mostly focused on following the main story objectives. Fe is not a long game by any means, it can be completed under 10 hours if you stick with the main content and there is not much to do in term of the replay value. As for the difference between the Nintendo Switch and PS4 version of the game, it can be read in detail from here. The game might retain most of its visuals on the Nintendo Switch but its performance is not exactly rock solid leading to stutters as you roam around the forest.
Fe Review (PS4/Switch)
Game Reviewed on: PS4/Switch
Game description: At its heart, Fe is a personal narrative about our relationship with nature, the land, and its beings. It's a wordless celebration of our longing to be one with the world around us. A story that reminds us that everything in this world is connected, living in a delicate balance that is constantly under threat.
Fe is a charming adventure game that succeeds at world building but there are some aspects of its game design that can also make it a frustrating experience.