Wot I Think: Fe

Fe is, I’m so pleased to report, utterly wonderful. I’ve no idea how to say it, whether it’s “Fee”, “Fey”, or maybe even “Iron”? It matters not. It is, perhaps, the most beautiful game I’ve ever seen. And playing it, swooping, running and leaping about in its world, has been a complete delight. And continues to be, even after I’ve ostensibly finished it. Here’s wot I think.

I wasn’t quite sure at the start. Fe is immediately beautiful. Strikingly so, the sort of game where I’ve felt more like I’m taking pictures of stunning sunsets than screenshots for a review. (It holds the highest acclaim of being the first game to bump Firewatch from my desktop backgrounds since early 2016.) As you move your astoundingly animated creature – part porcupine, part badger, maybe? – through the luscious woodlands and vistas, the atmosphere changes colour around you, creatures teem in its vivid and luscious environments, plants and water shimmer around you. Look, it’s bloody gorgeous.

The next thing you’ll notice is that movement is a real pleasure too. Your character, let’s call him Fe for the sake of trying to make sense of the wordless game’s name, scampers and jumps in an immediately gratifying fashion, feeling free and agile from the start. So there you are, there the world is, and… oh.

This was the source of my hesitation. As a consequence of Fe’s desire to be open and ambiguous in its presentation, it’s also surprisingly directionless in its opening moments. I love freedom and open worlds, but I always feel a bit overwhelmed, almost agoraphobic, when there’s not even a given reason for going anywhere. The moment is brief, and soon I found a creature to chase through the countryside, to see where it was going, and then in a moment of unbridled madness, decided I liked the look of something that caught my eye in a different direction, and diverged. And from that moment on I understood that playing Fe was going to be that splendid combination of knowing there was something I was supposed to be doing, and enjoying not quite getting around to it yet.

Fe is about exploring, discovering, and singing. Singing! Your little guy, with a squeeze of a controller trigger, lets out a sort of caterwauling sound, louder and more intense the harder you squeeze. Experiment with it and you soon learn you can use it to communicate with flora and fauna in the world. And how is simply wonderful. By the pressure you put on the trigger, you tune in to the correct frequency to successfully talk to an animal or plant, until eventually orbs of light are transferred between you. With a plant this might trigger it to unleash spores that create sproingy platforms. With an animal, it befriends them and allows you to work together with the creatures of this Nordic idyll. Communicate with an adult creature – ie. a giant thing – and it’ll teach you its own language, adding to Fe’s vocabulary and allowing her to interact further, communicate with more plants, and take advantage of their boosts to her movement.

Fe eventually explains that your next goal is marked on its map, and then straight away tells you it can be switched off if you don’t want to know. I left it on, because it’s a big world and I felt happy meandering toward the intended direction in my own time. As you follow its trail, you expand your sung vocabulary, and as such your range of abilities. And in this sense there’s a little bit of metroidvania to the third-person action world. However, not in the sense that you constantly find walls you can’t get past yet – but rather you realise that if you go back to where you’ve been before, there’ll now be so much more to do.

The other thing that confused me at first was my search for the attack button. There isn’t one. And you aren’t going to get one. Fe isn’t a world without threat – in fact, for some sections there’s enormous danger. But you aren’t going to whack it to make it go away. The Silent Ones (a name I only learned from reading the game’s sales blurb – it’s not mentioned in the game) are a group of creatures who seem to be up to some sort of dreadful business, capturing creatures and plants in their organic cages, and trying to corrupt some of the world’s most beautiful creatures. You, as you potter about, almost inadvertently thwart their malevolent machinations, but will need to keep out of their line of sight to stay safe. That’s relatively simple, with bushes to hide in, but offers a welcome stealth-aspect that only occasionally breaks up the free roaming.

It’s a simple game, it isn’t going to offer challenge, but that’s rather the point of its existence. It’s something to enjoy being within, and when something’s as sumptuous as this, that’s enough.

This is all going somewhere, the ambiguous story further hinted at by occasional peculiar playable flashbacks, where you are seemingly seeing through the eyes of one of the Silent Ones. To be honest, while I thought I was getting to grips with what it was all about, by the time I’d finished the scripted events and the credits rolled (over the top of the game as I carried on playing, very clearly flagging that it intended me to keep enjoying and exploring the world, finding all the very many undiscovered collectibles), I realised I hadn’t the faintest idea what had happened. It’s notable that this really didn’t matter much. This is a game much more about reveling in the intense beauty and ridiculous pleasure of movement than worrying too much about anyone’s motivations.

And indeed it’s a game about relationships. The way you bond with creatures, gain trust, find symbiotic advantages, is completely compelling. That the absence of combat feels like no absence at all is also testament to just how superbly complete it all feels, how rewarding is its exploration.

That’s all escalated further by the music. Haunting and perfect cello, viola and violin create a joyous score, shifting tone and pace depending upon the environment and circumstances. It’s quite the thing to walk between two cliffs, and see the world around you almost imperceptibly shift from hues of blue and purple to pink and yellow, while the music soars about you.

This is Fe throughout, a truly beautiful game, uplifting, gorgeous and alive.

Fe is out today on Windows, for £18, via Origin only.

Post Script: All of this makes EA’s decision to pointlessly and inanely restrict this game to their barely used and less wanted bespoke online store, Origin, an act of self-sabotage and vandalism. This is the sort of game that would thrive on broadly used services like Steam, GOG, Humble and Itch, where audiences are likely to explore for new games, receive recommendations, and see what their friends are playing. Precisely seven people worldwide use Origin in this way, most begrudgingly opening it only when they want to play the previous game EA mindlessly undermined by restricting it to their vanity store.

This allows EA to charge utterly disgraceful amounts for their games on PC, like £55 for something as bland as Need For Speed Payback, removing any possibility of market competition or just the plain awkwardness of their mediocre games costing £20 more than everything else on Steam. But when it comes to a smaller, independent, relatively unknown (Zombie Vikings? Anyone?) game developer like Zoink!, it ensures the game’s massive disadvantage on PC. Not only that they’re charging £17 for a game that would fly off of Steam/Humble at a tenner, but putting it on a store that is never browsed.

Fortunately for Fe’s sake, it’s receiving a cross-platform release, and hopefully will find its audience through PlayStation, Xbox and Switch. But the PC build will receive a fraction of the sales it deserves, at the hands of the hubris of its publisher.

98 Comments

  1. jbscript says:

    “Fe” is the inadvertent sound you make when you discover a PC game is only available on Origin.

    • Frog says:

      Ouch. My Origin has stayed closed since Andromeda and closed it stays. Sorry Fe, not worth it.

    • Vodka, Crisps, Plutonium says:

      Make it a top-comment!
      …No, wait

    • Magus42 says:

      It was totally the sound I made when I got to that line of the review. I was sold until that point.

    • upupup says:

      So much for that then.

      • upupup says:

        Which would have also applied had it been on Steam, so….so much for that too then. I’ll play it on the Switch if it’s worth it.

        • Premium User Badge

          ooshp says:

          Because… you can freely purchase digital games on Switch from absolutely anywhere you choose and it’s not a closed platform?

          • upupup says:

            No, obviously. That’s not how you use a rhetorical question.

    • Blackcompany says:

      I really wanted this…but enough to support EA?

      I am…no longer sure.

    • Massenstein says:

      My feelings too. :/ Going to have to skip this one for now but hopefully future will see some borders opened in the world of video game markets.

  2. Fitzmogwai says:

    Is there a worthwhile EA contact to badger about this and politely request that they make Fe more widely available?

  3. Crusoe says:

    Origin only, noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!

  4. Psychomorph says:

    The only reason I got Origin installed is for free games, so I guess we wait.

  5. J.Munthe says:

    As the company is Swedish I would say that it is pronounced as Fear without the r

    • Shadow says:

      “Fé” also means “faith” in Spanish. Maybe related, maybe not.

      As for the pronounciation, English tends to append extra sounds to letters, in a way, and Spanish is rather clearer in that what you see is what you read, so to speak. So imagine pronouncing “Fey” but chop off the “y”. Fe.

    • Premium User Badge

      Qazinsky says:

      Oh, yeah, if the company is Swedish, then the name is most likely the Swedish word for Fairy and pronounced like fear without r.

      I was thinking to desribe it as the ea sound from rear, but your way is better.

    • Mags says:

      This is confusing as the r in ‘fear’ is usually silent.

      • Matt_W says:

        The ‘r’ is only silent if you speak a non-rhotic dialect of English.

  6. Laserhead says:

    “Ohhh this looks great, I wonder how much it is on Steam… oh. Nope.”

  7. MajorLag says:

    You know, now that you mention it, things like this silly storefront exclusivity are another reason I think we might be looking at another big decline in PC gaming in the near future. The other big reasons being the funbux miners driving mid-high end GPU prices through the roof, and the absolutely flooded market. I hope I’m wrong.

    • Premium User Badge

      phuzz says:

      There might be a slowdown in big AAA games, especially single player ones, but there’s a constant increase in the number of people making games, and the tools to do so are getting easier, so if anything I think we’re going to see more ‘indie’* games than ever before.

      * I’m using indie here to mean whatever the opposite is of massive AAA blockbusters, but I’m not ruling out smaller games coming from established studios too.

      • MajorLag says:

        The problem in the indie market is that it’s pretty well flooded right now, and it’s difficult to sort the wheat from the chaff. Overall this leads to fewer purchases, which leads to lower quality works as profit margins shrink.

        • Massenstein says:

          That is the case for all creative fields, be it writers, comic book artists, game developers – eventually filmmakers too. Something probably needs to change in the way finances work before that becomes less of a problem, though personally (as both consumer and creator) I see it only as a very good thing. Hmm… I wonder if any sunday papers I might have missed have linked to something discussing this.

    • LacSlyer says:

      The new AMD processors circumvent the astronomical price of GPUs currently I think. Yes, the cost of GPUs is limiting their purchase for gamers, but most gamers purchasing them are upgrading GPUs rather than building an entirely new system. The new AMD processors that practically negate the need for a GPU at all will get even more people interested in building a PC and seeing what all the fuss is about. Easier access typically allows for further growth in a market, which is certainly the case for PC gaming.

      So as it’s becoming easier and easier to build a PC on your own, and as it’s becoming more and more profitable as a gamers to do so in terms of game availability and numerous other advantages over consoles, I’m not convinced the PC gaming market is going to start a decline any time soon.

      • MajorLag says:

        From what I can tell, the new AMD APUs have slightly less horsepower than my 7 year old 560 TI. I don’t think they’re even in the same ballpark as “real” GPUs.

      • Ragnar says:

        The current AMD processors with built in graphics are equivalent to an Nvidia GT 1030 – way better than Intel, but hardly what you would want for a gaming PC.

      • Cinek says:

        The new AMD processors that practically negate the need for a GPU at all

        Wow, been a while since I heard such a nonsense. Stop eating all this AMD marketing BS or you’ll choke.

  8. matty_gibbon says:

    Zoink! also did Stick it to The Man, and soon-to-be-released Flipping Death, both of which I think are more well-known than Zombie Vikings, if that helps (this based on a single data point – me)

    • ersetzen says:

      Turns out these are on steam and currently on sale. Thanks!

  9. Dewal says:

    It’s probably too small of a game to ever be cracked but this could have been a good occasion to get it DRM free and then make an open donation to the studio.

    Could you tell us how long did it take to “finish” the game ?

  10. Hartford688 says:

    I find Origin quite alright. Access is rather useful sometimes as well. Mainly just needs more games in the catalogue.

    My view anyhow.

    • John Walker says:

      Origin works fine. That isn’t the issue described above.

      • Premium User Badge

        subdog says:

        The point about intra-platform competition and pricing is just silly though. I’ve gotten huge Origin exclusive games like DA:I, ME3 and Titanfall with all DLC each for under $10 – no better or worse than I’d be getting on Steam or GOG.

        Do you have any kind of evidence at all to back up the assertion that storefront exclusivity results in higher prices?

        • Premium User Badge

          subdog says:

          I’d also like to point out that two articles below this is “The Best PC Gaming Deals of the Week” and an Origin giveaway (admittedly not exlcusive) is the lede.

        • LacSlyer says:

          He can’t because there is no evidence of it. The whole complaining about Origin is so ridiculous at this point that I’m convinced that most people do it to try and fit in and sound like they know something about PC gaming.

          • John Walker says:

            Again, my complaint is that the game is exclusive to Origin, and thus will see vastly fewer PC sales than it deserves.

            You can love Origin as much as you want, but it doesn’t change that key fact. And yes, Origin charges far higher prices than other online stores for equivalent games.

          • LacSlyer says:

            I can understand that point, but you’re kind of contradicting yourself in a way by making this claim. If you highly suggest people play this game then wouldn’t it be for the better for them to buy it at its full price and reward the developers for making a good game? I admit that’s a bit petty but I feel it’s a valid point to bring up if we’re discussing the availability of sales of a game due to platform limitations.

          • jrodman says:

            The fact that the games cost more on origin is one thought. The fact that origin doesn’t have the customer base and that will limit this game’s ability to sell is a different thought.

            These two aren’t linked, and are both true, and do not come into conflict.

            As for this game, the price given is not the significantly high prices under discussion, so I don’t think it’s being helped in that way. Maybe you could argue the price on steam might end up being lower for comparative reasons, but you haven’t made that argument, yet anyway.

            My personal viewpoint on origin is that I do not want a stupid launcher thing from every major publisher, so I draw the line at steam. I buy games from GoG.com but I don’t use their launcher thing. If EA and Ubisoft were to sell their games direct with no launcher, I might be willing to buy from them.

            I’m not sure if other buyers feel similar to me, or are lazy, or just haven’t heard of uplay and origin, but the issue here is there just aren’t many people buying stuff from those portals.

        • John Walker says:

          Um, yes. That all the new games on Origin are priced £55-60, whereas the vast majority of major games from the rest of the big publishers are on Steam at £35-£50!

          • LacSlyer says:

            There’s zero difference for USD for cost of triple-A games at launch on Origin compared to other platforms. I’m not sure why the UK or other regions are higher.

          • Thomas Foolery says:

            I can’t see prices in pounds, but in Canadian dollars I don’t see any price difference between new EA games on Origin vs new games from large publishers on Steam (Assassin’s Creed: Origins, Civilization 6, Xcom 2, Watchdogs 2, etc.). They’re all $80 CDN / $60 US.

          • LacSlyer says:

            Check that you aren’t looking at the more expensive options of games when you’re comparing prices. A lot of the major games default to the upgraded versions which are more expensive, but the default price of the standard games are all $60.

          • Premium User Badge

            subdog says:

            This has to be a UK thing, because the only AAA games I see on Origin over the standard $60 point are Deluxe Editions (which are just as expensive over on Steam)

          • ColonelFlanders says:

            First, you’re basing that on a single region, which is stupid because the whole world =/= the UK. Second, many many games are launching at comparable prices to what EA are charging on Origin, even in the UK.

            You don’t really seem to be able to field a decent argument as to why Origin is actually a bad thing, other than ‘bleh EA’. While I think EA are as big of a shower of cockwombles as most other gamers do, you need to actually provide some facts if people call you out. Burden of Proof, motherfucker.

          • Cinek says:

            John, you can do better than that. All EA’s game releases got the same or lower price on Origin as they on other platforms. Suggesting that for the same product they ask more money on origin is nonsensical. They’d actively sabotage their own platform. It’d never happen, regardless how much you might hate Origin.

          • John Walker says:

            Good lord, I don’t “hate Origin”. Origin is fine. It used to be terrible, now it’s fine.

            My argument on price remains, EA charges astronomically higher prices for Origin games in the UK (we’re a UK-based website). (And doesn’t release them anywhere else so such comparisons are imaginary).

            But far more importantly, the focus of my complaint in the PS – and in all the pedantry above no one addresses this – is that putting an unknown indie game in that unbrowsed walled garden will do the game incredible, needless harm.

      • Kirudub says:

        Yeah, I don’t have problems with Origin either… I’m not going to refuse to buy or play a game because it’s the mot du jour.

        Original starts up fine, works in the background fine, same as Steam. So I’ll buy this game and support the devs (with whatever fraction of the cut they’ll get)

        • John Walker says:

          That’s great. I hope lots of people do. Again, it’s nothing to do with the point being raised in the PS on this article.

          • Kirudub says:

            Understood; I was actually trying to direct my comment at the folks who start sharpening their pitchforks whenever Origin is brought up. I actually tried to clarify that point immediately after I posted, but your comment system didn’t allow me to make an edit.

            I totally agree that this could hurt their PC sales (and, IMO, also due to the aforementioned pitchfork crowd, who would rather “stick it to the man”).

    • Shadow says:

      Truth is it’s just cumbersome to handle more than one game store/network of this kind. Steam did it first, did it well, achieved optimal positioning and gg wp Origin, uPlay et al.

      Problem is it goes beyond cumbersome and into frustrating land when a secondary store wishes to exclusively cage its games to itself. GOG did something else with Galaxy and made it entirely optional, positioning it as a nifty tool rather than a pair of shackles. Lo and behold, I have more games installed in GOG Galaxy than Origin, which I grudgingly use every now and then when there’s absolutely no alternative and I find some discounted game to burst-play for a week or two (i.e. Battlefield 1).

      • fish99 says:

        It’s not a good answer to just say “Steam won let’s give them 30% of all PC sales revenue for all time”.

        Also I don’t see the same complaints about Blizzard games not being on Steam, or Valve games not being on other clients.

        • Urthman says:

          Yeah, but if it’s a choice between giving that 30% to EA or Ubisoft instead…I’m happy to give it to Valve.

          • fish99 says:

            Why though, it’s not like they make games anymore or even curate the mountain of shovelware released on Steam.

          • MajorLag says:

            fish99: Because for all their faults Valve has been a much better friend to PC gamers than any of the alternatives. Valve revitalized the PC gaming market twice: once by providing the first reasonable digital distribution service and storefront, and then again when they helped drive the first indie explosion. They organize several yearly sales, usually at pretty steep discounts, and despite the wailing of the entitled internet masses, are actually trying to make it easier for gamers and the games they’ll like to find each other (it’s a really hard problem, show me anyone who has done it beter. Amazon and Google have significantly more resources and still suck ass at recommendations). They even partnered on a VR initiative that was completely open to everyone, unlike grassroots kickstarted Ocuface. When it looked like MS might force people to use the Windows Store, they took it upon themselves to try and make Linux a better gaming platform just so people would have an alternative (they didn’t really succeed at this, but it’s an even harder problem than recommendations).

          • fish99 says:

            They also have crap customer service, very high prices for new games, mediocre prices in general, and a service full of shovelware. Also what if Gabe sells Steam to some corporation in the future? At that point you’ll be glad for some competition.

            Also, if I was EA, Blizzard or Ubisoft, I wouldn’t want to pay Steam 30% of my revenue, just for basically bandwidth and file hosting. The amount of money Steam receives purely through being in a virtual monopoly position is insane. A monopoly is never a good thing for consumers.

          • Cinek says:

            for all their faults Valve has been a much better friend to PC gamers than any of the alternatives.

            Nonsense. That easily goes to GOG. Valve’s been a mess for quite a while now, with one of the worst customer service out there and greening fuckton of crap to their platform without any apperent oversight, a lot of which was nothing more than a scam that paid back to sellers after 2-3 units sold (in particular plage on VR where they let literally any shit in). Not to mention that Steam nowadays is de facto a game rental company, not a seller, you do not purchase anything there cause in their anti-customer practices their avoid EU customer protection laws.

            Besides – every dev and publisher has a right to profit from their work without paying the useless moloc Valve has become. And so if I buy Paradox games – I try to do it in their store, if I buy EA games I guy them on Origin, if I buy ubisoft games I do it via uPlay, otherwise I buy games on GOG wherever possible, cause they dont behave like a parasites on PC gaming community.

        • Don Reba says:

          Also I don’t see the same complaints about Blizzard games not being on Steam, or Valve games not being on other clients.

          Blizzard’s client is actually pretty good. Plus, Blizzard itself is highly regarded in much of the community.

          As for Valve, their games predate other clients…

        • kud13 says:

          Blizz is very much the exception that proves the rule.

          Blizz puts out (roughly) 1 blockbuster game every 3-5 years-one which gathers ongoing fanbase and gets ongoing support and can “sorta” justify being locked-in to a proprietary platform/storefront (not to mention battle.net actually predates steam)
          None of this means I like their exclusivity- I’ve been boycotting Blizz ever since the “D3 will be always online, because lul users are stoopid and won’t be able to tell that their offline only char can’t be played online later and will be sad so the game has to be always online” PR bullshit. But it’s a very specific model.

          EA, otoh publishes a bunch of games, and tries to do so frequently. And in this case, a potentially interesting indie game (that won’t have the full backing of the EA marketing machine, because “indie” ) will likely not be known to as many people as it should, because it won’t be advertised on Steam, GOG, Humble, Fanatical, etc- all the other, more “open” platforms. Unless every single major gaming site writes about this game, most likely the only way people will know about it would be if they get the origin/EA newsletter in their email-because few people will be looking on Origin for a new indie game- most people who use Origin will be using it exclusively to play Origin games-which are (generally) EA’s “stable” franchises- not new “indie” IPs.

          All that is to say, putting a “non-major triple A blockbuster” game on Origin only is a good way to ensure much fewer people ever hear of it. Which is a direct publisher fail.

      • LacSlyer says:

        Cumbersome in what way? That you have to open a different program solely to purchase a game and then never deal with it again once it’s installed because you simply run the game from the shortcut rather than dealing with Origin?

        I’m an avid PC gamer and have Steam, Battle.net, GoG Galaxy and Origin installed and never have I found it cumbersome at all to deal with these platforms. You make it sound like using multiple programs on a computer is difficult when that’s the entire point of using a computer.

      • Archonsod says:

        It’s not cumbersome at all to manage multiple stores. Which unfortunately can’t be said for the Steam client or storefront these days.

      • Shadow says:

        Perhaps cumbersome is not the right word. It’s hard to explain. I also have Origin, uPlay, GOG Galaxy, Battle.net and Steam installed, but Steam is the only one I have open pretty much at all times, and it’s the only one I use at its full intended capacity. As a storefront, 95% of interesting games are on Steam, so suddenly having to go elsewhere, install and execute a pointless secondary application to play a game (aside from GOG, which doesn’t really force anything) seems needlessly bothersome.

        So in the end, what are you arguing for? Should I put on my hipster glasses and equally despise Steam for being an unnecessary application, even though it’s nigh-ubiquitous and most relevant games go through it? Should I elevate another application, ineludibly inferior due to just not being able to compete in variety of games offered?

        So it’s not so much cumbersome to use as it’s excess fat to be forced to install secondary Steam-wannabe applications when one has already clearly and decisively beaten them in the market they were trying to dispute. Imagine if websites were locked to specific browsers, and one had to install five browsers to be able to surf the internet in full capacity: would it be a problem with modern computers? Not really. Would it be a pointless pain the ass? Absolutely.

        I simply dislike bloatware, and if I have no choice but to install a certain type, I’d rather it were just one.

      • TheBetterStory says:

        I buy games on Itch whenever I can, even though I prefer having Steam cloud and it’s consistently more expensive. And that’s mostly because I like what the folks at Itch are doing for the developers. (And there are quite a few interesting games that never make it as far as Steam, too.) I only really use GOG when there’s an old game on there I can’t find anywhere else.

        I agree that it can be a little difficult to remember what you bought on which platform, but I think most of the stores are offering something different enough to consumers or developers that I’m glad they’re around to give us options.

    • Freud says:

      I don’t like online store exclusives but I don’t really understand viewing Steam as inherently good and Origin and UPlay as inherently evil. They are for all intents and purposes the same thing.

      Seems a bit myopic to hate on EA for the sake of hating EA. Their indie program has enabled some wonderful games to be created. I don’t have a problem supporting that.

      • MisterFurious says:

        EA has bought out and shut down countless studios. They also jam their games with as many microtransactions and money leeching bullshit as they can while still charging full price for their games. There’s a reason why they’re amongst the most hated game publishers and it isn’t because it’s cool to hate on the big guy.

        • fish99 says:

          This is all true but I still think competition is a good thing, and therefore multiple stores is a good thing. In an ideal world every game would be available on multiple stores. You don’t get that if Steam is the only store.

          I should also add that the studios Valve has absorbed don’t appear to be making many games anymore (and neither are Valve), and if HL3 were released tomorrow, it wouldn’t be on any PC store other than Steam. Food for thought.

          • malkav11 says:

            I agree that competition for Steam is a good thing, so I encourage people to support GOG and Itch.io. uPlay and Origin are not competition for Steam. They have made little attempt to sell things outside of their proprietors’ own catalogues, and since EA does not sell their games on Steam and Ubisoft saddles Steam copies of their game with uPlay regardless, they are not competing on those catalogues either. They exist purely to cut Valve out of the profit chain, not for any benefit to consumers.

          • malkav11 says:

            Also, Valve absorbed one studio, singular (Turtle Rock), and they left Valve again after a few years. Their one game post-Valve, Evolve, did kinda tank but that’s hardly Valve’s fault. And while the impression I got was that they had folded after that, I guess they’re still around and making something for Perfect World Entertainment. You may be thinking of them hiring mod makers to work at Valve, which they’ve done a few times and resulted in massively polished and improved versions of those mods being released commercially to massive acclaim (e.g. Portal, Counterstrike, DOTA). Some of those folks have also since left – the one I recall was one of the Narbacular Drop team, which was adapted into Portal, who went on to make Quantum Conundrum after she left. The rest are still working for Valve, presumably, and not releasing games because Valve isn’t releasing games. I’ll grant you that it’s sad that they’ve stopped but it’s almost diametrically opposite the EA scenario, really.

            But you are correct that anything Valve does release going forward will probably be locked to Steam, and no, that’s not especially okay. But since Steam is already what most of us use, and it’s a much better client, and their total game library is a tiny fraction of EA or Ubisoft’s, it doesn’t feel nearly as bad.

          • fish99 says:

            You’re saying UPlay/Origin only exist to cut Valve out of the profit chain, but why should Valve be in the profit chain for EA/Ubisoft games? If you were at EA would you want Valve taking 30% just for hosting/bandwidth? So EA spend $50M making a game, take $80M in sales, and Valve take $24M of that just for bandwidth? Adios profits.

            I can absolute understand why every other publisher wants to cut Valve out.

            You may be right about the devs Valve have absorbed, but I don’t see a new Portal, L4D or CS game recently, or much of anything for that matter.

            Ehhh… it’s not even worth debating since it’s nothing to do with my original point – that competition is a good thing, always, and Valve are just as guilty of restricting their games to their own store.

          • malkav11 says:

            I don’t begrudge anyone for wanting to provide people with the option to directly purchase from them, as cutting out the middleman is better for the creator. But it isn’t automatically better for the consumer, and the more you restrict the consumer’s options, the worse it is for them. Ubisoft’s position is actually semi-reasonable on that front since you can still buy from Steam if you want (though saddling everything with the extra, shitty client is obnoxious), but not so much EA’s. It still isn’t competition in any real sense.

      • malkav11 says:

        uPlay and Origin aren’t evil per se (although balkanizing the market for no good reason other than the publishing corporation’s bottom line isn’t exactly good consumer support), but they are notably inferior in function and design to Steam (Origin more so, as it lacks functions like screenshotting and locating game installs remaining from prior Windows installs), and will remain also-ran annoyances unless they offer both compelling features of their own (beyond simple monopolies on the products of their owning corporations) and a much wider overall game selection.

        That said, because I enjoy some Ubisoft and EA games, I reluctantly run both clients on a regular basis.

      • basszje says:

        Meh Uplay is terrible. It’s the only storefront where I can buy games at full price and then have them locked to Russian language, which I don’t speak. Just because I live somewhere where Ubi assumes Russian is the way to go ( hint, it’s not Russia ).

        Everytime I consider to buy an Ubi game, this language issue hits me. And what I gather from the Russian complaining, the translations are low quality as well.

        I use windows only for gaming, so I don’t care about a bunch of store applications. If it would be my work computer as well, it would be in the way though.

  11. Sargonite says:

    Damn. I’ll add this to my list of tragically not on a platform I will use, along with Journey and Horizon Zero Dawn. Awkward that a relatively independent game should end up so restricted.

    I get not wanting it on your competitor Steam, but maybe put it on Itch.io? They won’t be eating EA’s lunch any time soon.

    • jrodman says:

      The reason Origin exists is so that EA doesn’t have to pay Valve a 30% cut.

      Itch takes a 0% cut.

      I’m not sure why EA can’t just sell on itch.

      • MajorLag says:

        By that rationale, everyone should just sell on itch.

        …which I kind of agree with actually.

  12. thenevernow says:

    It’s also hard to search for a two-letter word.

  13. cardigait says:

    A beautiful game with an unsearchable name, available only on an ignored platform.
    They should add an indecent high price and some loot boxes.

  14. colorlessness says:

    This game reminded me that Origin existed, so there’s that.

  15. Don Reba says:

    This allows EA to charge utterly disgraceful amounts for their games on PC, like £55 for something as bland as Need For Speed Payback, removing any possibility of market competition or just the plain awkwardness of their mediocre games costing £20 more than everything else on Steam.

    That doesn’t make sense. They don’t have to pay a cut to Steam, so shouldn’t games be 30% cheaper in Origin?

    • Archonsod says:

      If people are willing to pay £55 then you charge them £55. You don’t reduce the price unless you have good reason to; it being cheaper for you to produce the product has never been a good reason.

  16. Nixitur says:

    Well, just one more reason to get a Switch.

    • ColonelFlanders says:

      honestly they are so fucking brilliant, just get one. The fact that you can put the most ambitious open-world game ever in your pocket and just play it whenever and wherever you fancy is so awesome. Plus of course you will have something to play Mariokart on, which is a perfect way to end all of your friendships.

  17. Mr Bismarck says:

    Could be worse. Could be a Windows Store exclusive.

  18. asnakeofjuly says:

    Oh NOes!! I have to do an other click thing?!! C’mon people!

  19. kud13 says:

    Thank you, John for bringing our attention to a game most people would otherwise not even hear about because putting a game on Origin that’s not a AAA blockbuster with huge EA marketing behind it means most people won’t ever hear of it.

    Is the controller mandatory, or can it be played with M+K?

    • Matt_W says:

      It’s got top-line reviews on most of the gaming websites. It’s been marketed for months. And it will be available on both PS4 and XBox. Most gamers will have heard about it.

      • DatonKallandor says:

        I had never heard of it before this article, because surprise, nobody knows when things come out on Origin that aren’t big AAA blockbusters (and even Need for Speeds are starting to just release with nobody knowing or caring) – and many PC gamers don’t read any coverage of consoles.

  20. BewareTheJabberwock says:

    This makes it sound an awful lot like Hob (apart from the fact that Hob has combat). Lots of gorgous scenery, open world that you can meander thru at leisure, no dialogue, plenty to do but no hurry to do any of it, and the sense of not being entirely sure what this is all about, but that’s okay. Not sure why Hob wasn’t a bigger hit, given it’s origins (see what I did there?), but chaos at Runic may have contributed.

    Anyhow, I’ll wishlist Fe… Oops, maybe not. Don’t know a thing about Origin, but I don’t have it and not sure I need another platform at this point. Not a hard “no”, but, like the article says, its priority just went WAY down.

  21. Premium User Badge

    particlese says:

    Thanks for the review, John! I caught the Eurogamer review first and got the impression they were doing it wrong, so I’m glad you folks are here to do it properly. I enjoyed your writing here, too, besides.

    [I get and agree with your point about Origin; I rant supplementally here.] So. I may finally give this Origin thing a try, then. Maybe see if Mass Effect 3 is finally palatably priced in my region, too. (I’ve no personal beef with full retail price on an older excellent game here; they were just charging something ridiculous, so I went without.) This may be a main goal of EA with this sort of exclusivity, but if the game is good enough, and the store not something which gives one or one’s computer actual diseases, why not. I can get rid of it as soon as I’m done with Fe, if it really bothers me that much. Shame it’s not on itch.io or gog, though, yeah. Come on, EA, a competitor of your competition is your synergistic partner. I’m pretty sure that’s how business works. CEOs all sleep with the likes of Art of War and *research* Arthashastra under their piles of vibrant silken pillows, right?

  22. 0sn says:

    John: could you comment on what worked here for you that didn’t in Hob? I remember that review well (and found a lot to enjoy in that game despite agreeing with many of your criticisms).

    I honestly registered after years of lurking just to ask that!

    • John Walker says:

      The big issue with Hob for me was a lack of coherence. I never felt like I understood why doing one action caused the change in the world. I enjoyed it despite this.

      Fe doesn’t really overlap with those issues at all. It’s a more simple game in many respects, where you don’t change the world around you, just explore it.

      It didn’t occur to me to compare the two games, honestly. They seem to have very different intentions.

      (Also, Hob had a horrible camera, whereas Fe’s is completely under your control.)

  23. ancipital says:

    Ouch, I was also totally sold until the nasty twist ending.

    I don’t want Origin back on my machine ever again. Steam? Fine. I’d even cheerfully buy from GoG at a pinch. Origin? It can go piss up a rope.

    Shame, this looks like a delightful game, too.

  24. KFee says:

    Looked interesting until I saw the word “Origin” == insta skip.

  25. n0s says:

    Please put “Origin only” on top of articles like this, so we don’t have to waste our time reading the rest.

  26. DeathBeforeDiscomfort says:

    “Fe” means “fairy” in Danish, as in “the good fairy godmother”. Not that anyone cares, what with the Great Discussion About Origins that seems to be the order of the day.

  27. Marclev says:

    This sound brilliant!

    EA

    Oh. Could someone confirm it has no micro transactions and PTW mechanics please?

  28. Someoldguy says:

    “Your little guy, with a squeeze of a controller trigger, lets out a sort of caterwauling sound, louder and more intense the harder you squeeze.”

    So, is this game unplayable with mouse and keyboard?