We need more games like Fe. The EA Originals project, which hails from Swedish newcomer Zoink Games, is a stunning adventure reminiscent of some of the most affecting titles of the past two decades. I didn’t get the chance to go hands on with it at Gamescom, but a hands-off demonstration was enough to convince me that Fe will be easy to fall in love with.
Fe made a strong impression at E3 2016, when EA debuted a trailer that highlighted its muted palette and unique aesthetic. Both of these translate magically into the actual game, with our little fox hero running around an expansive dusky forest.
“Our most important inspiration is always going to be nature for this one,” Hugo Bille, the game’s creative director, told me. “Something that’s true to the nature of the Nordic forest. There’s no spoken language and so on.”
Instead, Fe is a game dependent on intuition. The character uses an assortment of cries to communicate with animals large and small, recognizable and less so. His abilities deepen throughout the game, enabling him to solve further puzzles and see more of the forest.
And I want to see more of it, stat. I gazed up at the footage on screen with eyes wide, already touched by Fe’s symbolic adventure. It’s a personal fantasy story, one that requires players to be attuned to the world around them in order to proceed. An early part of the demo I saw had Fe stumble across some flowers that looked ready to bloom, but wouldn’t; it turns out he had to enlist the help of a friendly stag to burst them open. But the game doesn’t tell players any of this. To discover how to use the world to Fe’s advantage is to understand this painterly forest and its inhabitants intimately.
It’s reminiscent of similar atmospheric games like Journey and Shadow of the Colossus, neither of which get too explicit about where players need to be or what they need to do. (A boss battle even features Fe climbing a giant monster’s back, a la Colossus.) Bille named both as influences, but some mainstream Nintendo franchises also played a part in Fe’s creation.
“Metroid and Zelda are huge inspirations in how they encourage you to re-explore older areas,” Bille said. “It’s a great tool to make it easier for players to really know a place.”
The forest of Fe is a place I am eager to really get to know. It will launch on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Windows PC and Xbox One early next year.