Feist is a game about survival. You play as a sootball/hedgehog lookalike, recently escaped from his prison and that must flee from his captors. You’re given vague impressions of what is happening, as there are neither words nor voices in the game, but the idea conveyed is that you’re a small, weak creature stranded in the middle of a savage land, foreign and with no regard for your life. The only thing that isn’t your predator are the ubiquitous flies, which also serve as nourishment. The game sets its ambience with lush, swamp-like forests detailed in stark contrast, as the first plane – the one you’re on – is dark and black, and the background is colorful and bright.
Gameplay is entirely physics oriented and intuitive: you’ll need to use sticks and stones not only to fend against threats, but to trasverse the maps which often require you to set stepping stones or create ladders from sticky burrs. Other than hurting your enemies by throwing objects at them or swatting them with sticks, you’re able to lure them into traps, place them in some other creature’s way or use a fly as a makeshift needle-gun. You’ll often be overwhelmed by flies and other enemies, and in those cases running and taking cover might be your best bet.
What sets the game apart from other action platformers is the mood: deriving mostly from its contrasting, overbearing art style, it is enhanced by the jungle-appropriate soundtrack, which plays in the background without ever being too intrusive. The game’s other elements all add up to enhance this unsettling mood: the lack of words, interactions, a HUD and the violent gestures the world’s creatures make when they attack you, from a fly spitting several spikes in your direction with incredible precision and in a small time frame to the raging, lumbering beasts that run faster than you and kick stones, nuts and other animals in your direction, all with intense animations that convey a sense of violence.
It’s impossible not to set a parallel with Limbo: both have similar uses of lighting and contrast, but while Limbo is a slower, pondered experience, Feist is all about rushing through the dangerous maps, avoiding danger more than confronting it and with simple puzzles rather than the elaborate ones we saw in Playdead’s game.
Feist is a game which evokes primal feelings. Throughout it you’ll have little respite and no reason to stand still. Although it is by no means long, Feist’s three to four hour story doesn’t overstay its welcome and left me satisfied – replayability is limited, with little to do other than gather achievements. The gameplay itself is simple, and what’ll stick to you long after you’ve finished the game is its ambience and aesthetics. If you’re interested in a game with fantastic art style and ambience, this short romp will leave you mesmerized.
Feist was played on press code provided by the publisher.