2D sidescrollers with silhouetted out characters and animation is quickly becoming a genre for indie games. It's much easier to design and animate thanks to less limb movements that need detail and less complicated movements and art. While some pull it off well (i.e. Karma.Incarnation 1), some don't. Feist is the latest of this kind to come out for the PS4. How did it hold up?
In the game, you start off being trapped presumably to be eaten later by big...fuzzy things. You break open the box to find that you're a little fuzzy thing. You need to run across the world in order to, sigh, save your girlfriend/mate from the clutches of the evil creatures. The setting of the story is pretty good, but the overarching story has been done to death. Still enjoyable since you have motivation, but nothing revolutionary in the story department.
Feist was out back on Steam last year, and the controls carried over to platform......ok. It's still simple jump and move, but the same physics remain. Since it's now on the controller, moving is a little more weird. Moving by controller on the PS4 flung him more forcefully every which way, and I had to be way more careful about it. Otherwise it's fine – just way harder to get used to.
Graphics turned out to be both really simple, but also gorgeous. The backgrounds showing forests, semi-reflective water and also-silhouetted out (and movable) tree trunks and branches and rocks and things looked gorgeous, showing depth and wonder. The first level, in a green shaded forest, really did look incredible. But character designs, simple black blobs, have been done so much, that even though it was a brand new type of fuzzball character, it almost screamed laziness – almost because designs were unique. Overall pretty good, but anything silhouetted could have been a bit more inspired.
The music in Feist is beautiful. It's an earthy, tribal, natural sounding score, that even though it's looped, you never get tired of hearing. There's a calmness to it, that even during a battle where you use your enemies offenses against another enemy as a defense or trying to hit it with a stick, it feels like it's a natural hunt and defense instead of something more modern. The urgency is still there, but due to the music being so naturalistic, you're never out of that mindset. Enemies are something you just encounter instead of having suddenly pop up with a music change. Sound too – it's pretty much the same sounds for things, but they are all spot on, and with a strong music background, you won't notice it.
That being said, when it comes to the mechanics, it gets a little wonky. A lot of this is jumping and using your environment to help you, but many times it works in odd ways, or you get hurt out of no fault of your own because a log or something suddenly moves. It takes skill to avoid enemies, but the environment fails instead of working in odd ways too. Some branches of trees you can run on – similar ones you can't. Things that look like they're climbable aren't and others come as a complete surprise when they do. It's good when it's up to the player to figure out how a world works, but not when the environment that has done something before decides to stop doing it in the game.
There's nothing here that hasn't been tried before either. Run, jump, defend, kill. Even some of the more unique elements, like having enemies kill each other, have been used in many games before.
There's so much to like about Feist, but also so much that brings it down. The music, the mood, the environment are on another level compared to similar games, but character design, story and not innovating or improving on games before it weighs it down. If you like 2D platformers with puzzles and things, this is great. You'll love it. If you want more environmental/tribal feeling to a game, this is good too. But if you want a game that offers something new besides atmosphere, it doesn't cut it. It's a good game, but there's enough wrong to not make it great.