As a tired Klaus slumps into his chair, gazing at a dreary morning outside from a window in the Zoink Games office, which is situated in his home of Gothenburg - a busy seaside town, sitting on the western coast of Sweden.
Little does he know, that within a matter of mere months, he’ll be travelling across the globe to debut his team's latest 3D, adventure title; Fe (pronounced fee) upon stage, in front of a crowd of over two thousand journalists and gamers alike - not to mention the millions watching from home - at gaming's biggest showcase in the world.
July 2015, 11 months until debut - With development drawing to a close on Zoink Games’ undead themed, 2D, side-scrolling, beat-em up; Zombie Vikings, a game that will see a big push over the next month and ultimately be voted on by fans as part of Sony’s latest initiative; 'Vote To Play' for their burgeoning PlayStation Plus service - said crown will unfortunately go to Ubisoft’s Grow Home. A small portion of the roughly 20 person development team currently involved - and employed at Zoink Games - continue to work on various prototypes, potential ideas that like a caterpillar within a cocoon can hopefully transform into their next game title.
One particular prototype though, the team have high hopes for, and have even seen fit to include it hidden within Zombie Vikings as a dream-like sequence for gamers to soon discover; aptly named Fe, meaning fairy in the team's native Swedish tongue.
A few months float by and with a portion of the team beginning to trickle off and work on another - yet unannounced - title, Klaus is looking back, wishing to see where they could have taken the - currently on digital-hiatus - Fe prototype. So it's decided, he commences development - along with a portion of the Zoink Games team - of moulding that initial spark, the idea of Fe, and turning it into a full-fledged game title.
May 2016, 1 month until debut - After a successful first foray into the exploding Independent games market, with hit 2D, platformer Unravel from - neighbouring Swedish developer - ColdWood Interactive, EA (Electronic Arts) now looks to expand this latest venture even further with their upcoming EA Originals program.
Going forward each year, EA aims to seek out small developers who are currently working on something new and innovative - enforcing no creative control of their own - and funding these creations to completion, along with backing said title with a force of marketing that only one of the biggest - if not the biggest - games publishers in the world can muster upon release. But one thing was missing, a standard bearer for this new program, a flagship title that encapsulates everything the program is aiming to achieve, and having already dealt with one Swedish-based independent developer it seems another one not too far away has a title that fits the bill perfectly.
June 12th 2016, 4 minutes until debut - With signatures having been signed on the dotted line just a mere few weeks ago, Klaus - with his stomach doing summersaults - now nervously awaits backstage for his cue to go in front of the bright lights, whilst listening to Patrick Söderlund charm the crowd, introducing them to their new EA Originals program. With presentation already rehearsed and talking points generally memorised Klaus takes a deep breath, there’s nothing left to do now he knows, nothing except taking a step forward and sharing his new baby to the wider world as a stagehand motions him onward.
Fe, described as “a game without words” wherein you awaken as a young cub within a forest filled with creatures - as a seemingly amnesiac, otherworldly being - with no recollection of what you are nor how you managed to find yourself there. Though Mikael Forslind (of Zoink Games) does assure me that whilst Fe may indeed mean fairy in his native tongue, you definitely don’t play as one “it has a meaning in the game where we're trying to convey this almost magical feeling”. That magical feeling also bleeds into the gameplay of Fe itself, that has you exploring your new found home, where you’ll quickly meet the various denizens of this wooded realm; each of them communicating with their own unique language. Be they plants or creatures, through the use of music and sound you’ll learn to converse with your surroundings to expand not only your abilities but new areas and paths through this beautiful world.
Instead of opting for a more linear - and familiar - experience, Fe also promises to be far more open 3D platforming adventure, giving you - the player - the freedom to explore where you want and in your own time; “Fe won’t hold your hand as many games do nowadays but [it’s] instead free [for the player] to discover how to tackle different challenges in the game” Mikael digresses. This, combined with the musical gameplay elements, we’re left to assume Fe will employ a Metroidvania-like design, opening up many hidden areas within this mysterious world for the gamer to experience. But if you’re a fan of stalwart 3D platforming elements mind you, Fe will have plenty of those at hand for you to enjoy too, even incorporating stealth mechanics which it uses to showcase the main enemy within the world of Fe.
Trampling through the forest, corrupting the balanced harmony it once exuded are the ‘Silent Ones’, large, looming dark creatures with a singular eye that permeate's through your newfound home - akin to spotlights - seemingly searching for someone, or something. What are they doing? Why they are here? It’s a mystery for the player to uncover when the game releases.
Fe is a very different type of game compared to Zoink Games more recent output - such as the excellent Stick It To The Man and Zombie Vikings - and whilst Mikael confirms their other currently secret project “looks more like the kind of games Zoink is mostly known for”, Fe aims to be quite the departure in both art style - opting for far more perpetual twilight, surreal trappings - and open-ended gameplay.
But this isn’t the first time Zoink Games have dipped their toes into this world Mikael reassures me, having previously worked on The Kore Gang for the Nintendo Wii back in 2011, along with a myriad of mobile titles.
I wish to extend my thanks to Mikael Forslind for taking the time out to answer my questions.
Are you interested in Fe? Let us know in the comments below.
Klaus Lyngeled is the CEO - and self-proclaimed 'Creative Monkey' of Zoink Games.
Zoink Games was formed in 2011, working on animation, commercials and various web projects before focusing exclusively on games in 2013.
Fe is using the same game engine as Zoink Games previous titles.
Mikael Forslind is the PR & Marketing Manager for Zoink Games.
Specific platforms that Fe will be targetting release on are yet to be confirmed.