Death of the Critic

FEIST - Review

Written by: Tom Blaich


It is hard to look at this game and not immediately think of Limbo. In many ways it is an apt comparison to the 2010 sidescrolling platformer. It's a pseudo-3D, atmospheric world with freakish enemies and light physics puzzles, and walking through the world brought flashes of nostalgia to games past. FEIST is gorgeous, with a more colorful world that legitimately feels dangerous. Everything can kill you, from a forgotten trap to a tumbling rock waiting to crush you; and over the course of the game, most of them will. Unfortunately, few of these deaths feel earned, and the simple act of playing can leave you wanting for something more.

You take the role of a little fuzzyball, who is searching through the forest to try to rescue another little fuzzyball from a group of big, evil, fuzzyballs. You do so by running to the right through ten levels while solving some limited physics puzzles. It's a rather short game, only a few hours long, less if you don't die as much as I did, and it takes you through some staggeringly beautiful environments. The caves are dark and scary, and the forest is a good mix between tranquility and terror. The downside is that there are only really 3 or four environments in these ten levels. They look amazing, but they start to lose their impact the around third time that you see them.


When everything in the world works, it is amazing. The game is atmospheric in a way that few titles have managed to be, with great sound and art design that had me standing still and taking in the sights, in the brief respites I had from my relentless pursuers.

The problem is that the moments where the game works perfectly feel like they are too few and far between. I can see the way it wants to work, and it just doesn’t. The difficulty can feel overwhelming at points, and there was more than one encounter in the game that felt like I was bashing my head against a problem and hoping it would all work out. I died a lot playing this game. More often than not, it felt like my death was out of my control. I didn't die because I made a mistake. I died because the game stunlocked me into a group of enemies, or gave the monsters different rules than they gave me. They can go through spaces and walls that I can't, and then I'm dead. Difficulty can ride a fine line between fun and unfair. Super Meat Boy is fun even after you die hundreds of times. FEIST never reaches that balance and just left me frustrated as I died over and over.

As with all physics based puzzles, precision can be a far cry from what you get and sometimes it feels like you are just punching a wall and hoping that it falls down. You know the solution, but managing to make it work can be a good deal of trouble in some cases. The frame rate issues on the Xbox One version don't help, and I can't count the number of times that I died because I got too close to an enemy and the game stuttered, and I couldn't escape their attack or fight back.


If this game wasn't gorgeous, I don't know what I would say. It creates a sense of atmosphere that most games can only dream of. The world looks great, the monsters horrific, and the environments captivating. The music is moody and ephemeral, and the sounds that enemies make feel right. There is a level here where you run through a pitch black cave and the only thing you can see are the white dots of your eyes. You run in and out of pools of light as you try to navigate, hoping only that you won't fall into a pit as you do. Until other dots start showing up behind you. And they are gaining on you.

The final level might be the worst part of the game. You have to fight the last of the monsters that you've been encountering, and this one is a whole lot tougher and a whole lot more deadly. It is the prettiest level of the game, with gently rippling water taking up half of the screen along with gently falling snow in the background. The water dynamically reflects everything. From your jumps to enemy actions, to the individual snowflakes in the background, and it's one of the best looking effects I've seen in awhile. Unfortunately this tanks the framerate on the Xbox, with stuttering and framedrops as you get into the thick of battle. Which is the exact time that this can't happen. It was beautiful, but damned if I wouldn't have given up a tiny bit of that so the game played better. The last encounter killed me probably forty times, and a good half of those were because of frame issues.


There are things to be taken away from this game. It nails atmosphere in a way that few can, but unfortunately it is paired with subpar movement and combat mechanics that would leave me frustrated. They got so much right, besides the core game itself, and it's so disappointing to see.


Review written for the Xbox One version of the game. Your experience may vary on different platforms.

The title was provided to us free of charge by the publisher.

Our review code can be found here for information on how we write and score our reviews. If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or concerns, please contact us at


Tom has been writing about media since he was a senior in high school. He likes long walks on the beach, dark liquor, and when characters reload guns in action movies.

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