Zoink Games' upcoming game Fe turned heads when it was first announced at E3 2016, though it was more of a double take. The game seemed to share an awful lot with Ori and the Blind Forest, including similar color palettes, focus on nature and emotional storytelling, and adorable (though a little weird-looking) titular characters. I got a demo of it today during Gamescom, and I'm glad to say that those similarities are superficial, at best.
Where Ori and the Blind Forest is a challenging platformer, Fe is more about exploration and learning how to get around in a strange-but-familiar natural world. Players take control of Fe, a creature who serves as a forest guardian. At first, Fe's capabilities are limited to moving and singing – though it's more of a charming warble than anything that resembles music. The world responds to Fe's voice in a number of different ways; grass grows a little in response, flowers open and reveal platforms that can be jumped onto, and animals can be befriended. That last one can be tricky, since the forest's creatures are naturally wary of Fe, as well-intentioned as it might be.
For example, players might have to slowly track a frightened deer before approaching it. Once it's within range, Fe harmonizes its song with the animal's and different things can happen. That deer will become tamed and follow Fe around, even offering an optional ride on its back if players jump on it. The deer can also activate special yellow flowers that provide a gust of pollen – perfect for getting a skyward boost
Players need to explore and remain observant to progress, since there aren't any tutorials or UI prompts to guide them along. The forest isn't necessarily a tree-lined utopia, which adds an element of danger. The forest is threatened by weird hominids called the Silent Ones, who menace the wildlife and take them away for experimentation. Fe can stop them by throwing yellow pollen pods at them to disrupt their weird technology. During the demo, we see them trying to steal eggs from a mother bird, which we need to retrieve, and even ensnare a giant deer that's so massive it has trees growing on its legs.
Even with the troublesome Silent Ones, there's a sweet little loop in Fe that's centered around befriending animals and helping them. I enjoy games where you get to be an unadulterated good guy, and the emphasis on exploration and discovery make it even more appealing.
Fe is coming to PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC in early 2018, along with the recently announced Nintendo Switch version.