Fe follows in Unravel’s footsteps as EA’s attempt to appeal to players who enjoy thoughtful, artsy indie experiences. Unravel brought the feels but failed to back that emotion up on the gameplay end. Fe fairs even worse so far, failing to establish any connection and flat-out upsetting me more than anything.
As a weird-looking fox creature possessing a magical song, you serenade animals into aiding your quest to save the forest from evil, probably. I say “probably” because Fe drops players in with virtually zero story set-up. A few scattered plot elements have reared their heads, like first-person visions from the perspective of the enemy and scattered cave drawings that I have to light up for whatever purpose (if any). But there just hasn’t been a comprehensible main thread tying things together. I’m just helping a few animals and finding things but nothing feels purposeful, leaving me with little reason to care.
Fe also takes its time explaining its core gameplay. Everything revolves around singing to animals in order for them to activate corresponding objects (determined by shared symbols between creature and object). I appreciate games that let me discover things on my own, but I spent too long befriending animals without really knowing why. A simple tutorial of “sing to this deer, then use this deer to activate magic flower things” would have been enough for me to grasp the game.
When it comes to your main critter’s vocal talents, determining its pitch involves a cool pressure-sensitive mechanic. Communicating with an animal opens a vocal line between the two where light orbs on each end must meet in the middle. Achieving this requires finding the wavelength by feathering the button press until the pressure is right. It’s a unique idea if nothing else that feels pretty nice to perform.
Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for Fe’s platforming. Movement has an unpolished feel to it, taking much of the fun out of getting around. The confusing level design exacerbates that problem. Despite having objective markers and a humming bird guiding players towards goals, I still found myself getting lost more often than not in Fe’s cluttered forest. Navigation has been Fe’s biggest issue although the art direction hasn’t enamored me yet either. I can’t put my finger on it, but something about the visuals doesn’t sit well with me.
I started Fe hoping to get wrapped up in a bundle of happiness and enchantment. But as it stands, annoyance and confusion dominant my emotions. Time will tell if the ship rights itself but the waters are looking mighty choppy.