Sunday, May 13

Review: Fe [Nintendo Switch eShop]

Games that rely on people’s intuition to gather what needs to be done without giving strict and direct instruction are interesting. By providing you the most simple basics and then progressively layering on opportunities to experiment and refine the hope is that the player will have a somewhat organic experience, and a feeling of accomplishment as it all comes together. While Fe is a visually stunning game, featuring a lot of exploration and discovery, it struggles to find a balance between challenging the player to determine what to do next and leading them by the nose.

Certainly the strongest elements in Fe are its audio and visual qualities which help to create the very compelling alien wilderness you’re exploring. The somewhat washed-out color schemes are extremely distinctive and both the music and sounds of the other wildlife you’ll encounter create a pleasant and serene atmosphere most of the time. When trouble comes calling in the form of aggressive alien creatures you’ll find that you’re poorly equipped to do anything about them directly, so you’ll instead need to work in coordination with the other creatures of your world to help save the day.

Aside from nimbly moving about the forest, climbing up and then jumping from trees, your other greatest asset is your ability to sing and gain the aid of other species in the forest. Each has its own particular pitch / song and as you learn these you’ll be able to gain access to new areas or even help depending on your needs. This is all quite creative and charming but at the same time having played games like Pikmin it also feels like what you should be able to do with this power could have been fleshed out and explored further.

More than anything it’s the game’s general length, in light of the feeling that some opportunities could have been further explored, that can be frustrating. The pieces for gaining cooperation are there but more often than not the songs serve to help you get through a particular platforming challenge rather than as an enlisting of even indirect aid. Another issue I hit a few times was simply being unclear on what I was doing, though weirdly in other instances there was an abundance of help to guide me along when it didn’t feel as necessary. None of this detracts from the delight in exploration and discovery, especially if you’re determined to check every nook and cranny for collectibles, but you do walk away with some sense of what could have been nonetheless.

Overall, Fe is a feast for the eyes and ears that, for the most part, also delivers a gentle and enjoyable gameplay experience. Interaction with the other forest creatures is always has a bit of a magical feel and in general it is surprising how many secrets are hidden in the space. If you’re down to just enjoy the ride and not rush to the end there’s quite a bit more to like, though more hard core gamers are likely to find it disappointing for its missed opportunities.

Score: 7.5

  • Visually stunning with a wonderful soundtrack
  • A consistent sense of discovery throughout
  • Friendly to gamers of all skill levels

  • Relatively short
  • It feels like more could have been done with the singing mechanic
  • Not very action-oriented