Fe: PS4 Review
Developed by Zoink Games
Published by EA Games
The idea of a game as exploration is not a new one.
Since thatgamecompany's 2012 release Journey re-defined the emotions and the raison d'etre for the genre with its combination of haunting music and genuine feels during a sparse narrative that won multi Game of The Year awards, there's been an ongoing hunt for games that really recapture that vibe.
The latest is Fe, from indie developers Zoink Games who were responsible for Stick It To The Man.
Taking on the role of a fox-like creature, called Fe, you find yourself in a forest environment that's riddled with entities known as the Silent Ones.
These creatures, which scrabble like spiders and stand tall like an elongated Mike from Monsters Inc., are currently tearing up the forest, imprisoning critters and generally appear to at war with the environment.
As Fe, you venture though the forest, learning new animal languages, interacting with your surroundings and avoiding the glare of the Silent Ones. During the journey, different parts of the world open up as the fox gains various new levels of intellect.
From the EA Originals stable, which caters for indie developers, Fe is a game that's hard to review.
Much like Journey did when it first emerged, part of the engagement of the game is finding out what needs to be done and simply getting on with it.
Fe doesn't rely on hand-holding, offers no instructions and can occasionally be frustrating if you're stuck without a clue how to overcome an obstacle.
It means the traditional elements of gameplay rely on you being intuitive and connecting with nature, rather than hurtling through the forest ignoring everything around you. (To some, that may be the hidden message of life, but again, you take out what you put in in this game.)
Bathed in hues of purples, blues, and blurred colours means that Fe's look is unique.
However, it also means that occasionally, it's hard to know which parts of the environment can be used to your advantage. Fe is able to scamper up trees and leap from one peak to the next; but from time to time, the uncertainty over whether a tree can actually be climbed (due to odd mechanics) means you're stuck trying to do the simplest of things.
And the lack of direct idea what to do won't be for everyone.
Even though you can corral birds into helping by singing to them (by depressing the R2 button) and other animals can help (you bond with them by chanting in a similar way to how Abe did with fellow Mudokons in Abe's Oddysee), it will take patience to get through the game and its mechanics. Once you're au fait with it, you'll find yourself rushing around trying to solve the mysteries, which become less tangible as time goes on.
In fact, the reward for so doing in Fe is solid, but not as in-depth as Journey.
However, Fe offers up a tantalising look at what indie gaming could be on the big stage; a game where the smaller moments matter and the destination isn't as important apparently as the journey itself - no matter how occasionally flawed the trip appears to be.