Fans of platformers know that there are plenty of styles within the genre. From running and jumping, to puzzles and fighting, there are many ways to present a platformer. Feist is something both inspired and original, both reminiscent of Limbo while simultaneously being entirely different. The visual style pulls you in, the gameplay holds you, and the stunning soundtrack wraps up the whole experience in a moving way. Though the adventure is short, it is one that deserves recognition for being a smart, action packed platformer that shows a dynamic story of beauty and brutality.
Feist, developed by Sweden based Bits and Beasts, is an action platformer that recently came out on Xbox One and PS4, having launched to high praise on PC back in July of 2015. You take control of a little fuzzball of a creature that escapes the imprisonment of a box, quickly setting out to save his friend from his capture. Troll like creatures roam the forest, capturing creatures and carrying them off to an unknown fate, a fate that your creature wants to prevent his friend from ever meeting. Across ten levels you will fight and scrap your way through some rough situations. Every other creature you run into is territorial and looking to kill you. Other than the Trolls, you will mainly come across bug-like creatures, like flies and spiders. Each enemy has a particular attack style, and the kicker is that instead of following a typical attack pattern (as is common in the genre), each enemy is AI controlled. This makes them dynamic and vicious, and more often than not, extremely likely to kill you.
The combat is exhilarating. Every enemy you encounter wants you dead, and there are some truly primal ways to stop them. Using sticks, rocks, logs and traps, you can beat your enemies to death and stop them from coming at you. All the combat is fast paced, and though you can take more than one hit, you can still get killed pretty quickly. One of my favorite ways to dispose of creatures is actually by using another creature. The previously mentioned fly-like creature shoots barbs at you, but if you slap it out of the sky and keep it alive, you can pick it up and use it as a projectile weapon. It has unlimited barbs, but will ultimately expire if you are hit and it subsequently dies. Using the fly is extremely useful when fighting the trolls, which are the most vicious enemy by far. They are fast and relentless, and the fly allows you to keep your space while damaging them. There are different trolls, which makes combating them an adjustment. One can teleport, and is crazy hard to keep up with. Another shoots these orbs that can damage you, but can be batted back at the troll using a stick. The game is really short, which makes the stellar combat unfortunately short lived. Though short, Feist is the most primitive and visceral I have felt in a game, more so than that of Far Cry Primal or Ark.
What mellows out the grim brutality is the audio and visual style. The backgrounds are vibrant and pull the eye in, while the shadow like graphics (which scream Limbo) add to the bleak tones of the combat. It all flows so beautifully and naturally, the game as a whole is just the definition of "dynamic", which the audio cues only further prove. The music ranges from spooky to beautiful, and shows the attention to detail that the crew has for the vision of the game. Feist is a sight to see; art, beauty, and violence in motion.
Feist is a fantastic experience. It's exhilarating to find a platformer like this that offers such fluid and smart combat, all while being visually stunning. The game is incredibly, and sadly, short. It will take you, most likely, no longer than two hours or so. With such a brilliant image, it feels like the crew cheated themselves out of what could have been a slightly longer experience. Around three fourths of the way the game finally feels like it is starting to flesh out, only to end shortly after. Many of the early levels feel like early tutorials, which feels like a contradiction to the overall endgame. Regardless of that, it is saved by a tight combat system and drop dead gorgeous aesthetic. The vision is amazing, and Feist is an experience to behold. Just do not get too attached, or the sight of the credits will only be more heartbreaking.
*Note: A copy of the game was provided for the purposes of the review
Final Score: 8.5/10
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