Fe (pronounced fee-uh) is an adventure game that will take you through a vast forest inhabited by diverse wildlife. The animals and the environment coexist in harmony until you discover entities harming the forest known as the Silent Ones. As the main character, Fe, you utilize singing to communicate with the animals and environment to restore the peace to the forest from before the Silent Ones ever appeared.
The game’s focus is on exploration, traversing different areas and interacting with the surroundings. Within the environments, you can uncover the tranquility of the forest and also collect shards, pink jewels, to unlock new abilities, such as gliding from ledges or climbing trees. As you progress, you will be able to learn new songs. Fe begins the game with its own song, a unique pitch range, and learns five additional songs from the animals you encounter. Each song has a different effect on the environment. For example, one song will open a flower into a jump pad to spring you to higher ground. A combination of these songs and the abilities unlocked from the shards collected are all it takes to navigate the forest.
Singing in this game, however, is limited. When meeting new animals, you are able to sing with them and earn their trust by matching the same pitch. The pitch is made based on how hard you press the right trigger (depending on your control set up). There is no further depth than that, unfortunately. It would have been nice to introduce either more elaborate controls to improve the pitch options or a mini-game of sorts to flesh out the singing in general. The singing also does not extend further than animal interactions or environmental triggers.
The controls are very simple, but it was frustrating to navigate some of the environments. There were several instances where I would find myself stuck in the crevices of walls or having to jump small ledges where I would expect Fe to automatically step up on its own. Tree climbing, a critical part of navigating, was also cumbersome because it utilized button presses to move up chunks of the tree and would not let you jump off of it until you reached the top. One button press too many and you could accidentally lose your spot and forcing you to repeat a climbing sequence. To add to these frustrations, it was difficult to identify enemies. It is not clear that some animals are enemies and failing to identify that has caused me to return to checkpoints with little warning. Also, during the end credits, you are able to traverse the environment, but I was still able to die from an unfriendly animal, stacking onto my existing frustrations. There are stealth sequences in the game that require you to sneak around the Silent Ones. If spotted, they will try to capture you, which is nearly inescapable unless you are near some kind of cover to break their vision. Repeated capture along with occasional bad camera angles of the Silent Ones in the area became old fast and took me out of the immersion of the game.
The plot itself I have also found unmemorable. The premise of the game is not a bad one, but there are few occasions that explain what is going on and why the forest was being attacked by the Silent Ones. However, even with these moments, the story Fe was trying to tell was difficult to follow. The plot is conveyed with flashbacks and without words throughout the entire game, but it was unclear through to the end of the game. The sounds of the forest were good for characterizing what each animal was supposed to be, but the music was pretty average. A symphonic score that would carry you to your next objective would suddenly be gone once you stopped making meaningful progression, creating dull spots. The colors in the game make it rather uninviting to explore. The game chose to use dark colors to depict the forest with different palettes to distinguish the areas of the forest. For example, one area may have purple tones while another may be filled with green tones. The overbearing dark color palettes make the terrain hard to see and difficult to process. The forest is drowned out and ultimately hindered my interest in the game.
Fe had the case be something beautiful and memorable to join the ranks of games like Journey or Abzu but misses the mark with tedious gameplay missteps and unmemorable sequences. I was able to complete the game in about six hours, but after about three, Fe turned into a slog and I felt the need to finish it only for the sake of finishing. It is a tough sell for this game when much more enriching titles, in terms of their storytelling and visual appearances, are far shorter in length by comparison.