Review – Fe (Switch)

Fe is a weird game. It’s a very original, charming, and heartfelt story-driven puzzle-platformer, yet it was published by EA of all companies. I may have to give that company credit for doing a good curation job, as Fe is a good title to start its brand new “EA Originals” brand.

Homies from my neck of the woods

At its core, Fe is a simple platformer. You collect precious stones that’ll give you new abilities, as well as new “singing languages” in order to communicate with more beings. Singing is the main driving force behind Fe‘s gameplay. Far from being an actual musical simulator, you proceed through puzzles by resonating with animals and plants via the power of singing. Said animals or plants can help you with acting as extra platforms or providing you with exclusive items. That’s the game’s most interesting aspect. Singing is not exactly complicated, as all you need to do is hold the ZR button and tilt the joycon until you find the desired note in order to complete a certain puzzle. The game doesn’t exactly teach this mechanic, so it’ll take you a while to get used to how solving puzzles works. In fact, the game barely tells you anything at all, even when it comes to storytelling.

You see, Fe tries to tell its story without a single line of text or any dialogue at all. The game is an art game, after all, and borrows storytelling elements from games like Inside and Journey, other well-known successful titles that managed to tell a cohesive story without a single line of exposition. Thankfully, Fe isn’t what I would call a pretentious art game, something that has littered console and PC libraries over the past years. Fe doesn’t try to tell an overly complicated story: it can easily be summarized as a little furry critter (I have no idea what type of animal the damn thing is supposed to be) trying to save its forest from a group of evil robots. Sure, there’s the not-so-subtle message about environmental issues, but it’s not obnoxious about it, or else I doubt I’d have the patience to deal with the game until the very end.

Meet the baddies

Naturally, given the fact the game is based around the ability to sing, Fe features a pretty good soundtrack. The little critter’s singing prowess isn’t exactly “musical” per se, sounding more like whale’s songs than actual melodies, but the soundtrack itself more than compensates for that. The game also features a great art style with nice and colorful visuals. The game doesn’t boast complex polygons or extremely detailed textures, but it all fits with the somber atmosphere. Despite the simple yet beautiful visuals, the Switch version of Fe suffers from an inconsistent framerate, especially when there are lots of elements onscreen. Granted, it’s nowhere near as bad as other games for the console such as the recently released Monster Energy Supercross, but it’s annoying nevertheless.

I’d say that the game’s length and its linearity are its biggest flaws. Despite the fact it tells players to explore the beautiful land that is the game’s map, Fe is a very linear game and a short one at that. There are secrets to unfold, but the game gives you little motivation in terms of plot secrets or bonuses for you to decide to step aside from the main story for a minute or two to go out and explore the map. And before you know it, it’s over. That, coupled with a few platforming issues (there are times in which the simple act of climbing a ledge becomes more complicated than it should), a weird stealth mechanic (hiding in bushes will make you invisible to enemies, even if they’re two inches away from you) and the inconsistent framerate hinder the quality of what could have been a much better game.

Ew, you’re not as cute as I thought you were

Fe is far from a perfect game. It has some technical and game design flaws, but its charm and originality definitely make up for that. It manages to be a deep and thoughtful art game without becoming an arrogant and pretentious title like many of its peers. Despite the framerate hiccups being more present in the Switch version, the game’s simple gameplay and short length are a perfect fit for the system’s portability. Fe is a great debut for the EA Originals label, and it only makes me even more curious for the brand’s upcoming games, especially A Way Out coming next month!

Graphics: 7.0

The game features an adorable art style and vivid colors, but it also features a very inconsistent framerate.

Gameplay: 8.0

The controls aren’t exactly complex, but you’ll have to get used to the singing mechanics without having any prior explanation. The Camera is wonky at times.

Sound: 9.0

Fe is based around sound and music, so it’s no surprise this aspect is well-done in the game.

Fun Factor: 7.0

Fe compensates for its short length and occasional uninteresting level design with great storytelling and some innovative gameplay concepts.

Final Verdict: 7.5

Reviewed on Switch.

Also available on: PS4, Xbox One, PC