Fe is a Disjointed But Beautiful Game About Ecological Harmony

By Laura Kate Dale on at

Fe, EA's newest indie game released to help shed its image as a faceless megacorp, is a three-hour long adventure game where you play a little singing fox. As you progress through gorgeous colour-filled environments, Fe's whole gimmick is that your playable fox can learn to sing in the language of various creatures, which in turn encourages them to help your make your way through the world.

On the surface, I really enjoyed the narrative hooks the game had in place. The core threat of Fe is that creatures are being mysteriously abducted for nebulous unpleasant purposes, and your goal is to get all the animals you encounter to work together to save themselves. Structured much like a metroidvania, you learn to communicate with new types of animal as you progress. For example, learning to sing with a boar that can bash down barriers allows you to backtrack through the world, finding new places where the boar can help you progress. As you play, you'll repair the bonds between different species, getting them to work together, until eventually the whole forest is working symbiotically to progress towards their goals. Aww.

This theme of ecological harmony is emphasised by the fact that your fox very rarely, if ever, directly interacts with a problematic situation, and it never directly engages in combat. Rather, you (as the fox) will be guiding other animals to where they need to be, and relying on them to help you move forward.

The biggest issue with this relatively short experience, however, is its puzzle design. Initially, the overall flavour of working to rebuild the harmony of the ecosystem shines through above all else, but the more of Fe I played, the more I felt that the animals were merely puzzle clues rather than creatures in their own right. The fact they only existed so I could progress through the game somewhat dampened the overarching themes. The puzzles were also at times repetitive, formulaic, or had solutions that seemed simple but were infuriating to execute.

However, Fe's core story is only three or so hours long, and where the game really shines for me is the way it allows you to freely explore the world at your own pace after completing the story. Once all the puzzles are out of the way, you can return to interacting with the world as a living ecosystem rather than a set of puzzle solutions. At that point, for me, the game regained some of its initial beauty. While it's not quite a consistently fantastic experience, there is definitely something worth experiencing in Fe.