The latest EA Original is on its way! Find out what our thoughts were on Zoink Games' Fe in our official review!
An Enchanting Story of Discovery and Heroism
A dark, Nordic forest, strange mythological animals, creepy one-eyed creatures that try to silence their calls, and one tiny cub who has to navigate through all of this. This is the world that Zoink Games, part of EA’s indie developer department (EA Originals) created. In Fe, you play as the titular character, a small wolf-like cub who crash lands in this forest and can’t remember who it is or its purpose. It’s up to you to help the small creature on this journey of self-discovery, while stopping the Silent Ones on the way.
When creating Fe, Zoink Games didn’t feel the need to utilize dialogue to push the story forward. In fact, if they had, it would have messed up one of the most important parts of the game, learning how to communicate with animals. Instead, Fe brings the story to light in a couple of clever ways. The first come in the form of cave drawings that are scattered all across this Nordic forest. The different shapes it reveals can either help you on your journey or foreshadow what’s to come. The other happens to be from an elixir you drink. From time to time, you’ll stumble upon a box that will include a salve of some sort. That drink transports you into the body of a Silent One so you can uncover their mystery, as well as your own.
Fe is a true-to-form linear adventure game. Sure, there are a few tiny side-quests and collectibles to find, but the story plays in one direction. Despite that, Zoink wanted to make sure players got the most out of their labor of love by providing a unique experience unlike anything else. What makes it stand out is the jaw-dropping environment, but what you have to experience are the emotional attachments made without dialogue.
Throughout Fe’s handful of stages, Fe must connect with the various mythological creatures that inhabit this forest. Using animal calls to become “in tune” with each creature makes this possible. The results are unexpectedly sweet, as you begin traveling with your new rune-looking compatriots. Furthermore, you start to rely on your new friends, so much so that when the Silent Ones entrap them, you’re forced to fight tooth and nail to free them. In doing so, you see the true depth of this game with the reactions of each animal friend with Fe.
A Vivid, Dream-like Environment
As previously stated, the biggest draw for Fe is the unique environment you’re able to explore. Even though it’s not a giant open-world game, the small maps don’t disappoint. Players can jump into realistic streams, climb massive pines, and trek through rocky passageways in a world that looks like it came from one of Tim Burton’s recurring dreams.
The visual perfection doesn’t stop with the land around you, the animals themselves are beautifully crafted as well. Zoink the took normal animals we learned about, while playing with our See and Says, and made them extraordinary. It’s evident when we’re communing with a deer or a giant Winnie the Pooh-esque Owl, but they’re suped up in beautiful, shining runes.
The same goes for Fe, as well. Our hero is a stunning mix of a porcupine, flying squirrel, and a young wolf cub with the ability to change color with each new animal call learned.
The best part of this game is how unique and original it is, but it doesn’t just stem from the magnificent visuals. What got me really hooked on this game was the brilliant work with Sound Design. Sound is such an important part of this game and it definitely shines. If you walk through a stream, you hear the water pitter-patter under your paws. When an animal is curious about something, you can listen as they try and figure it all out. Fe is one of those games where you don’t rush through the experience. From time to time, you have to stop and appreciate the artfully-crafted environment that Zoink has presented. From the music and the various sound elements to the gorgeous visuals, Fe is hypnotically gorgeous and Zoink deserves recognition for this accomplishment.
Challenges and Tribulations
While Fe is a technically sound game in terms of visuals, audio, and even overall gameplay, it’s not a challenging game and can be finished quick, if you sprint through it. Fe’s toughest challenges come early on when you’re trying to figure out what each animal call does. Once that’s discovered, the rest of the game becomes a simple match game.
Sure, there are moments when you’re required to navigate through different puzzles to move on to the next part, but even those are simple, because this is a linear game. Like most games under the linear profile, Fe will test you with certain stealth puzzles, but they’re relatively simple given the fact that most linear games have a path the developer wants you to go down to pass the test.
Considering the length of this game being relatively small, I would’ve preferred more head-scratching moments other than trying to navigate around Silent Ones or figuring out where all the crystals are in this environment. Granted, I don’t believe that’s what Zoink was going for with Fe. Instead, I believe they meant for Fe to be a memorable experience, not because it challenged us like say “Shadow of the Colossus” challenged us, but because we were moved by the story of our little wolf friend and mysteries we uncovered on our journey through this tremendous space.
Memorable Visual and Audible Experience
Zoink Games outdid themselves when they developed Fe. You can tell how much they loved making this game by the amount of detail and work they applied. For that, it should be experienced by all. However, if you're the type that wants a challenge, this game won't be up your alley. It's a fun platformer with rich technicals, but that's about where the buck stops.