By Ashley Ring / February 6th, 2017
|Developer||Bits & Beasts|
|Release Date||December 13, 2016|
|Platform||PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One|
When I initially went into Feist, I really didn’t know what to expect. After watching some trailers for the game to try and get an idea of what to anticipate, I was initially drawn into its dark and shadowy atmosphere. It seemed like a game that was right up my alley. Now that I’ve finished it, was it any good or was it just another pretty game with little substance?
The intro starts with a group of what I can only describe as a creepy cross between a hamster and a troll walking through a forest and then cuts to a cage hanging from a tree branch. That’s about all you get other than the ending cutscene as far as the story goes, and that’s okay. The story is not this game’s focus, and what it does focus on, it does pretty well. It’s from here that we immediately take control of our unnamed main character in an attempt to break out of his cage. After escaping, the real journey through Feist began.
The first thing that really stands out when you begin playing Feist is just how cool and beautiful it looks. The way the game’s art style is presented is that you, your enemies, your tools, and just about everything else is presented as black and shadowy while the backgrounds have a really pretty glow to them as snow falls from the sky. I really liked the way this game presented itself visually, and thankfully the audio presentation is just as strong and enhances the visuals so much more. The music is a very ambient and relaxing sound that’s a mix of synth and piano, and is something that I would say is worth checking out regardless of whether or not you intend to play this game, as it’s just really wonderful and probably my favorite aspect of Feist. Both the sound and music come together in such a wonderful way to create a fantastic mood that I honestly wasn’t expecting before starting the game up, and really enhanced the overall experience. One of my concerns I had while progressing through Feist was that the environments may look beautiful, but a lot of the time they do start to feel a little samey. It does remain true throughout the entire game, but the style of each stage does change every 2 or 3 levels, so each type of level thankfully never overstays its welcome.
My initial reaction to Feist was kind of indifferent. It wasn’t really capturing me at all, but it also wasn’t bad by any means. It had the visuals and sound nailed, but the gameplay of the first and second level really wasn’t keeping me interested at all. However, this thankfully was alleviated relatively quickly as the game is just slow to introducing all of its mechanics to you. Things picked up pretty fast once I got to the end of stage 2 and I had my first taste of what Feist really had to offer.
Feist plays like a fairly typical side scroller, moving forward and maneuvering around whatever obstacle may be in your way. There is mostly no combat to be found here, but there are several mandatory and optional opportunities to defend yourself. Throughout each stage are many different objects such as pinecones, sticks, and rocks that you can pick up and use to launch at your enemies to defeat them. In some cases, I felt it was just easier to jump over some of the more difficult enemies rather than engage them head on. One of my favorite moments in Feist is later on in the game; there are these bee enemies that you can actually stun with a pinecone or a rock and pick them up while they’re stunned. Once you’ve picked up a bee, you can actually have them shoot their stingers out at enemies, giving you a very big advantage as you now have a projectile weapon that kills the majority of enemies in one or two hits. If you get hit while carrying your bee projectile, you will drop it and the bee will resume attacking you. There’s nothing stopping you from doing exactly what you did earlier in order to regain your precious bee projectile, though!
What stood out to me the most in Feist was having to use the environment to your advantage to be able to progress, be it luring enemies into a trap or stacking items to build a platform to progress. Outsmarting an enemy is one of the greatest feelings I had while playing Feist. During a boss fight at the end of stage 2, you encounter one of those troll hamsters from the intro. The surrounding area is littered with a bunch of pinecones and sticks for you to attack with, but this method is far too slow and clunky given this enemy’s speed and strength. After failing twice against him, I started running past all the items and noticed I could go under a tree branch and activate a trap that would shoot several spears at the boss, which ended up killing him instantly.
Feist is also a surprisingly challenging game in that not only did I find myself dying a lot from some of the enemies, but also sometimes it can be a little tricky figuring out what to do and where to go thanks to clever puzzles and branching paths. Thankfully the game’s checkpoint system is fairly generous, giving you several checkpoints in each level, as well as infinite continues.
The later levels of the game are where Feist really shone for me. Without spoiling too much, a few of the later stages of the game take place in a very tight and claustrophobic space. There are a ton of different paths, a lot of enemies that seemingly never stop coming, and plenty of light puzzle solving before you can progress forward. I will say it did get a little annoying as the enemies just keep coming while I was trying to figure things out, and some of the branching paths just lead to nothing except for what will probably end up being a death. Despite this, I really enjoyed these levels and they definitely helped me appreciate Feist a lot more than I originally did in the beginning.
Feist may not have captured me at the beginning, but it certainly did by the time I completed all 10 levels it had to offer. It’s a fun and simple game with an incredibly strong art style and sound design. It’s relatively short and can be beaten in about 2 to 3 hours. For the low price of $9.99 its hard to go wrong with Feist, especially if you enjoy its art style. It’s a fun little game, and if it looks and sounds interesting to you, you’re most likely going to have a good time with Feist.
Review copy provided by the publisher
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