by RYAN PAINTER, KUTV
This week on the cinematic front Marvel took us to Wakanda with “Black Panther,” the latest addition to their rich cinematic universe. One of the most appealing aspects of the film is that it has a uniqueness that stands apart from other superhero movies. It goes beyond the race or gender of the characters; it encompasses the whole experience. The first act of “Wonder Woman” worked incredibly well because it took us to a place we had yet to explore. It’s why many of us go to the theater in the first place. We want to think, feel or see places that we’ve never even imagined.
Last week Zonk Games released “Fe” via the EA Originals imprint. It’s a simplistic, but beguiling game that takes its participants to wonderfully lush world that isn’t quite like anything I’ve ever seen.
As someone who grew up in the ‘80s, I’ve been fortunate to grow up alongside the videogame industry. I haven’t played on every system known to man, but I have played on at least one system from every generation of home gaming. From Pong to the PlayStation with Nintendo and Sega In between, I’ve traced the line from when gaming was either all story and no graphics or no story and the most minimal of graphics to the modern day where projects are given budgets that are occasionally larger than blockbuster films. While the advancement in graphics has been tremendous, my favorite aspect of modern gaming is the fluidity of the narrative that allows players to wander and blaze their own path.
“Fe” takes this freedom to roam to an entirely new level as you’re dropped into the middle of a Nordic forest like no other and are asked to find your own way to and through the story of this magical place and creatures, good and bad, that populate it.
Visually the game is somewhat like the enchanted forests that you find in many of the films from Studio Ghibli only with a Germanic twist. It might not be photo realistic, but it is breathtakingly beautiful in its simplicity. The forest is filled with animals, some stranger than others. Many of these creatures will be helpful, assuming you take the time to learn their language. Actually, scratch that. You’ll have to take the time to learn their language if you have any desire to progress through the game. Fortunately learning languages in the game is far easier than in real life. You just need figure out how to hit the right notes. Get on the same wavelength and you’ll have a friend for life.
You see, there is no actual dialogue to be found in the game, which makes the game more accessible than you might think. Everything you need to know is shown to you, it won’t all make sense right away, but piece by piece the narrative becomes increasing clear.
I’ll admit that I struggled at first to discover what I was supposed to be doing. I found myself wandering through the gorgeous environment not knowing what I was supposed to do. However, once I decided to follow one of the woodland creatures as it ran through the glade I discovered those who live in the woods know the woods and its many secret places. As you progress you gain new abilities, learn different songs, devour a few magic crystals and make a host of friends that will help you visit new parts of world.
“Fe” might be the most unique fantasy game that I’ve ever played. It’s also strangely therapeutic in the sense that there is something calming about it. There was no sense of frustration when I was lost and searching for purpose or mistimed a jump or misjudged the intentions of a woodland character and was forced to retrace my steps.
Some might find the game to be a little simplistic and the world a little too forgiving, but not everything has to offer the brutal punishment of the Souls franchise.