What is Fe?
Fe is a puzzle platforming adventure that takes place in a stylised forest, where mysterious beings known as the Silent Ones are upsetting nature's delicate balance. Playing as a little fox-like creature, it's up to you to reunite the forest's residents through the power of song. The story may be a little vague, but it's essentially just an excuse for you to explore, befriend and puzzle solve with a myriad of woodland creatures, as you try to save their habitat.
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How do you play Fe?
Fe is a game about exploration. With little in the way of prompts, tips or tutorials, it's up you to venture through the forest, and figure out where you need to head next on your own. The forest itself is a huge open area full of cliffs, woods and caves, with different areas requiring different abilities to reach them - abilities which gradually unlock as you play, befriend new animals and collect hidden pink crystals. To befriend an animal, you need to sing to them, using different amounts of pressure on the right trigger to adjust your pitch until it's just right, at which point they'll decide to follow you through the forest. From there, you can get them to lend you a hand with the strange plants you come across on your journey - birds can open buds that house explosive green berries, perfect for blowing your way through a blocked-up cave; squirrel-like lizards power bouncy flowers that throw you up to a higher ledge, and so on. As you progress, by helping out bigger god-versions of the regular creatures, you'll learn new languages you can sing in, which let you talk to a wider range of animal folk, in turn letting you reach even more new areas.
Helping out these god creatures is the bulk of what you'll find yourself doing in Fe. For example, an early mother bird asks for your help in rounding up her stolen eggs. Each taken by one of the shadowy Silent Ones enemies, you'll need to covertly follow them through the forest to the altars where they've placed the eggs, then sneak your way around to steal them back. If one of the Silent Ones catches a glimpse of you, you'll be defeated and sent back to the last checkpoint, so you need to be stealthy - generally by moving between the camouflaging black clumps of grass.
How easy is Fe to pick up and play?
While the story in Fe is told entirely without words, meaning a solid reading ability isn't really a necessity (save a few brief tutorial prompts), the game itself can be more than a little vague and obtuse at times, requiring a fair amount of trial and error, exploration and experimentation to progress. The game actually very rarely tells you what you need to do - like rounding up the mama bird's eggs, for example - and you'll instead have to watch carefully, experiment a lot, and hope you figure things out for yourself.
Singing at top volume for a short time will summon a 'guiding bird' that should tell you where to go next, but as he never really tells you what to do, he's not all that helpful when it comes to getting un-stuck.
- "These waypoints on the map show you where to go next (they can be turned off in the pause menu)."
- "You can only sing with adult animals once you've learned to speak their language."
- "You can summon a guiding bird, wherever you are. Just sing as loud as you can for a short while."
Fe contains nothing in the way of mature content - there's no bad language, no sexual content and no blood and gore either. There's not actually really any specific combat, either - although wandering into a bear's den, or one of the enemy camps will see you gobbled up or trapped in a web-like orb and defeated. When spotted by one of the enemies, they'll fire their laser eyes at you, accompanied by a beam of black goo, which traps you in place, at which point the game fades to black and you respawn - you don't see what happens to the protagonist.
Format Reviewed: Playstation 4