Feist Review | MOUSE n JOYPAD


Feist is unflinchingly brutal in nearly every respect. It doesn’t care that you’ve died dozens of times trying to complete a nearly impossible leap. It doesn’t care that a handful of giant flies unfairly block any attempt to finish a level and it certainly doesn’t care that the controls are far too imprecise to demand half of what it wants you to do. Feist is one of the most frustrating games that I have played in a long time, my feelings exacerbated by its unwavering difficulty and lack of narrative direction.

At first glance, Feist looks like it takes inspiration from Limbo, a title with a similar art style that focuses on shadows and very dark hues. However, the visual design is where the similarities end between the two titles. Limbo is a puzzle game with a tone of dark brutality portrayed through the story and malicious environmental<#comment></#comment> puzzles. Feist, on the other hand, is deceptively a platformer, primarily, with puzzles interspersed in the gameplay.

The inability to reconcile the platforming with the puzzle gameplay elements is Feist’s biggest flaw that drags its quality down significantly. Most of the puzzles are obtuse to a baffling degree, often additionally requiring management of enemies. There is a constant feeling of franticness and urgency that occasionally works towards the game’s favor, but it ultimately makes the pacing fluctuate wildly.

Does the game require fast execution and a quick touch or does it require a slower approach with an emphasis on carefully killing enemies along the way? Very rarely are you ever left alone in Feist, the majority of your time spent will be in the company of some quite aggressive enemies that were thoroughly designed to make doing anything as annoying as possible. As a result, the task of attempting to solve even the simplest puzzle is met with irritating opposition, which makes nearly all of the puzzle-oriented gameplay sections ten times more frustrating than necessary.

Occasionally,<#comment></#comment> I encountered puzzles that are designed so aggressively poorly that they feel like they are fundamentally broken. In one of the game’s early stages there a collection of tripwires that will send a hail of arrows from the trees if they’re touched. Carefully maneuvering them is no simple task at first but quickly I learned the lay of the land was was able to avoid them with ease until I reached a particular wire that will live in infamy.<#comment></#comment>

Most of the tripwires can be activated from a safe location using an object or safely activated by quickly running to nearby cover. One such wire, I successfully activated safely, letting the arrow rain past me as I hid under a ledge. However, after letting the arrows whiz by, I would jump onto the next ledge before me, only to be killed mysteriously by nothingness. Over and over I attempted the same technique only to be apparently<#comment></#comment> killed by thin air. My next consideration was that some kind of technical glitch was preventing me from moving forward, however after considerably more time I ascertained my mistake was missing a key item a little before the tripwire.

Hidden neatly under a tree, sits an acorn that can be picked up and thrown to set off the trap, but if any other method is used to evade the trap or set of the wire the game will instantly kill you. I take the time to elaborate on this story because Feist is unfortunately filled with other examples just like the aforementioned tripwire puzzle, including a puzzle later on that can only be completed by first touching a box that has nothing to do with completing the task.

Aside from the puzzle-solving, Feist stumbles in the pure platforming sections as well, due to the imprecise controls. The little black puffball can move around the environment fairly nimbly and running through the levels can sometimes feel akin to a Sonic level, in terms of the character’s top speed. Leaping from tree to tree initially feels liberating in way that drove a desire to explore the jungle.<#comment></#comment> Unfortunately, the majority of the game is filled with unbelievably annoying enemies who will team up and summarily kill the little puffball without a moment’s notice.

In the interplay between you, the enemies, and the dangerous environment, the horrid controls truly shine through. Far too often, there are nearly impossible angles that must be jumped, or extremely small width ledges that are coupled with the critter’s very swimmy air control and strange momentum. Air control during jumps is particularly important as most of your opposition has a higher ability to maneuver through the air, such the aforementioned flies. All of this combines to create extremely tedious and frustrating gameplay that is filled with an absurd amount of deaths.

Let me truly emphasize that Feist is adamant on its unflinching difficulty. At times, an almost comical number of enemies fill the screen to impede your progress. Balancing the puzzle elements with the constant barrage of enemies is an exercise in frustration that had me nearly throw my controller in a couple instances.

The puffball’s journey through the maze of nearly impossible traps and enemies is all in service of an almost nonexistent story. Of course, this wouldn’t be the first game to rely on a paper-thin premise but Feist’s lack of narrative feels more offensive than most. Without rhyme or reason, you face difficult traps, take down a handful of bosses and reach the ending with not such much as a “good luck”. By the time the ending came, the very brief narrative interlude simply left me empty inside.

Feist stumbles on nearly every element of its design aside from its art and music. At the very least, my frustrations dealing with the poor puzzle design and overwhelming horde of enemies was backed by some thoughtful music reminiscent of a tribal score performed with electronic and acoustic instruments. However, ultimately the music did not do much to ease my frustrations or lower my comically high death count by the end of the game. Feist is hard to recommend to anyone, especially considering its wild pacing and high difficulty curve.