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A very sad story with very epic gameplay!

  • Oblic
  • 09/22/2013 11:26 PM
  • 425 views
Fey; a word with many meanings. When I first played the demo about 2 years ago, I thought the word was purely made up. When a friend saw that I was playing a game called “fey” he chuckled. Confused, I asked him what it meant, and I was surprised with his response. He claimed that the word usually meant fanciful and flighty, or to be a bit more blunt and using his words “gay”. I didn’t really believe him, but looked it up and found out that he was more or less correct. Yet, like I said, fey is a word of many meanings. Some of the more commonly used meanings include “otherworldly, magical, or even crazy,” all of which give a fair description of the overarching theme of the game, but there is a lesser used meaning that fits even better: “fated to die soon or a feeling of approaching doom or death.” When I started to write this review and dug enough to find this definition, I was struck with how well this fits the theme. Aside from the early parts of the game and the few flashbacks, there is a constant threat of death. Long story short, don’t judge a book by its cover. It may serve you well from time to time, but more often than not, you will be surprised.

By the way SPOILERS GALORE! Most of them won’t ruin the whole game, but you may be disappointed or at least less surprised than if you played the game yourself. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!

Story:

The early demos of Fey strongly suggested a deep and fleshed out story. Unfortunately, I honestly feel like the story fell a bit short. Even with the Memento-esque back and forth dynamic with the dark and gritty present and the lighter and more colorful past, I felt like some of the story was rushed near the end of the game. If some of the parts of the story were fleshed out a bit more, I may have been a bit more drawn into it. But, like I said, a lot of things weren’t very clear. For instance, the mischievous pet monkey in the beginning of the story was meant to be your shape shifting, foxlike friend. This seems a bit odd considering the monkey was more or less a reckless trouble maker while the fox always seemed very wise and insightful. It almost felt shoehorned at the end for there to be some sort of “conflict resolution”. There were also quite a few characters introduced throughout the adventure that seemed to be tossed aside within minutes of meeting them, almost like vague place holders for much deeper characters that never got a chance to be fully fleshed out. There were also several gameplay dynamics and items that were used once or twice and then never seen again. It definitely made the game feel more real, but I was disappointed when I lost a weapon that I just got the hang of using.

Although the story did seem a bit rushed, Landon, the main character, did go through some serious development. He is pretty much a happy-go-lucky, carefree child when he is first introduced, rapidly morphing into a man possessed with a single desire to undo his troubled past. He later accepts things the way they are, letting go of his muddy past and finally moving on with his life. It’s strange, even though the rest of the story seemed a bit quick, Landon’s development seemed almost perfect. I guess even though events happened around him at an increased pace, he seemed to react to them in a very natural way (or as naturally as one could expect).

Picaro, your foxlike friend, also seemed to mesh very well with the story he was a part of, even with his sever absence halfway through the game. He always seemed to pop up when you need him the most or when Landon is having trouble coping with his circumstances at a particular moment. He’s kind of like Navi from Ocarina of Time but without the annoying voice or constant yammering of how to complete a task you’ve done thirty times up until that point. It is also very clear that he has something to hide, making his revelation at the end of the game appropriate, even though his confession about being the monkey makes little sense to me. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if he made that all up just so he had a way out of his situation… you’ll see what I mean when you play.

Even though the story seemed a bit jerky, I must admit that I did have a pretty strong emotional reaction at times. It’s rare for me to actually empathize with a character in a fictional work, let alone have a physical reaction to said empathy. I can’t say I cried, but I did get a bit misty eyed at points, and felt actual frustration when Landon continually got within inches of his goal, only to be diverted at the last moment. In this respect, the story was a complete success.

If this game were converted into a book, I’m sure the story would feel considerably more naturally paced. But, as it is, it’s very hit and miss.

Gameplay:

Seeing as I already commented on this on fey’s summary page, it will come as no surprise that I LOVED the gameplay. I have played several RM games that have made an attempt at the adventure RPG style and either out rightly failed at balancing it or came so close but still missed the mark. The battle mechanics are perfect! Even without pixel-for-pixel movement, attacking, dodging, and maneuvering around enemies feels very tight. Most of the enemies are only a bit more than a nuisance, but there are enemies later on that swarm and can cause serious frustration, but in a good way. Frustration in the sense of a challenge that needs to be overcome. Every weapon that you are provided with functions superbly. I can’t think of a single one for which I didn’t find a use. And each one also functions in its own unique way, making the acquisition of each new weapon a joy of figuring out how they function.

Beyond battles, there are various tasks that need to be carried out that help with immersion, such as lock picking and “landscaping”, both of which allow you to advance through the game. There are also all sorts of mini-game like sections that I wish were made into larger parts of the game. There was rarely a dull moment where I felt like the game became tedious or boring.

There were a few things I felt were a bit lacking, though. For instance, I hate QTEs (quick time events), especially when they are sudden and unforgiving. Granted, most scenarios in which you die, you are afforded a chance to revive yourself. Unfortunately, you need to complete a button-mashing QTE in order to do so. Don’t get me wrong, I can mash buttons with the best of them, but my keyboard is starting to take a toll because of it. Anyway, there are still quite a few QTEs that cause a ‘game over’ if you are even a fraction of a second too slow. Not only that, the buttons required for you to complete most of the story driven QTEs change every time you complete them! This means you can’t even prepare for it, even if you get killed by it the first time! I found this to be clever but mildly infuriating. I don’t mind a QTE here or there, but after about the third one in a row in a sequence in which you cannot save and which will kill you if you miss one, I start to get a little pissed off. All-in-all, they weren’t terrible, but it’s the only thing in the game that I feel could be a bit more forgiving, or at least a bit more predictable.

Finally, I have to mention that I never really understood the point of selling things. Considering the fact Landon uses one of the sellable items early in the game to purchase information, I had a weird paranoia that I might sell something that I would later need. I know you can use the silver you get from the sales to buy skills, but I still found enough silver to buy most of them without selling a single thing. Maybe some people aren’t as OCD about finding every little thing, so having the ability to sell some the things you find along the way to pay for the skills will be helpful. Either way, I still felt like items could have had a bigger purpose. Not a huge thing, just something I figured I’d point out.

I really hope Ashes uses his skills to make another game, or at least an expansion, because this combat system seriously needs more exposure!

Mapping and Graphics:

I know looks aren’t everything, but they definitely can’t hurt. Fey definitely turns it up a notch in the graphics department. It’s clear that some RTP assets are used, but most of the sprites and tiles are either extreme edits or completely custom, especially the sprites. There are SO MANY different sprites used just for Landon. He goes through three or four major makeovers and each one is EXTREMELY emotive. I was really surprised by the pains the artist went through just to make his characters truly come to life. The most surprising thing about the sprites is that even the most innocuous NPC gets a handful of different looks, so there are very few static characters.

Playing into how great the gameplay is, every little interactable object is visually striking in some way. There was never a moment where I was confused on what to do next because most of the objects stood out in some way. Not only that, anything that could be interacted with gave some sort of colorful or obvious cue, making it nearly impossible to get stuck.

Music and Sound:

Although I did like the music for the most part, it didn’t really stand out as one of the better parts of the game. It wasn’t bad by any means, but some of it is very recognizable from other games and sources (I did like the use of the main theme to The Labyrinth in the intro though! …at least I am pretty sure that’s what that was). I will definitely say that there was absolutely nothing wrong with the music, but it was easily overshadowed by the other aspects of the game.

I normally don’t acknowledge the sound in games, but I feel like I have to at least make some mention of it here. Even though the music itself seemed pretty standard, the sound effects were phenomenal! Similar to the sprites and their emotions, every little action had a unique sound. There were different sounds for attacking different enemies. There were different sounds for cutting different things with your sword. Even certain tiles made different footstep sounds when you crossed them. And all of it is done rather subtly too, adding to a player’s immersion. Seriously, never underestimate attention to detail like this!

I hope I didn’t forget anything…

- Along with all the other graphical beauties, there are a ton of little animations that look amazing!
- Even though I wasn’t completely enamored with the story, I still like how it came full circle. Although I had an inkling it would happen that way, I was still pleasantly surprised when that’s how it ended up.
- I was really excited to learn about Landon’s eye! That seriously bugged me in the demo!
- I know it’s still early in its release, but there are a few bugs here and there, but none of them really break the flow of the game. I honestly didn’t know some of the things that I did in the game were bugs until someone else pointed them out!

Overall:

Even with my little gripes, I still really enjoyed this little gem. I really wish there is another game in the future that uses the same battle system, because it has not even come close to its full potential. I would also love to see some kind of expansion showcasing some of the other characters that only got a minute or two of screen time before they were swept along.

Anyway, on to the scoring! I had some trouble with this one… I kept going back and forth between two numbers in my head, but I finally settled on…

4 out of 5 stars!

If the story fit together a bit better at the end and if I had a little more time to play with all the gadgets the game had to offer, I wouldn’t have had a problem giving a higher score (I honestly thought about 3.5), but as it stands I was left feeling a bit wanting. Nonetheless, the fact that I wanted more only meant that there was a fantastic foundation!

I am positive that this game will go down in the books as a classic, and I am sure most people will agree. Now, if you haven’t done so already, go give this game a shot! I promise you’ll enjoy yourself!