Die a thousand deaths in a beautiful, capricious forest

The woods are a dangerous, thorny place in Feist, where you play as a silent, furry character rustling its way through trees, mountains, and crumbling caves during the perpetual golden hour of sunset. You and everything you encounter appear only as silhouettes against its yellow-green light; there are no words, just the faint sketches of a story: you escape from a box suspended from a tree and try to make your way through a hostile landscape full of spring-loaded traps and spiky, insectoid enemies ready to take your life at every turn.

They will succeed. This is a game where you are meant to die, many, many times; death is the primary way that you learn. It's easy to see why Feist has inspired so many comparisons to Limbo, the shadowy puzzle-platform game that won so many hearts in 2011: It has the same shadowy aesthetics, the same minimal plot, the same "trial-and-death" approach to making your way through the world.

But there's a different sort of wildness to Feist, a sense of unpredictability. It doesn't just feel like you're simply solving puzzles; it feels like you're trying to survive, leaping and dodging desperately as rocks fall, spears fly, and enemies come barreling towards you. While eating flies will help you heal from your many, many injuries, there's no health bar. You can't always tell how much you've been hurt, how much you've healed, and whether another wound is going to take you out. You are always at the mercy of the world.

Sometimes you succeed not because you're had a logical eureka moment, but just because you get lucky: an errant murder-wasp triggers the trap you've been trying to avoid, or somehow you manage to land on the edge of a tree branch you've leapt for twenty times before, and you're not sure why. Survival is three parts skill, one part luck.

The capriciousness of the game and the brutal precision it demands will likely inspire obsession in some while causing others to simply throw up their hands. It's tense, frantic and occasionally very frustrating, in a way that belies the loveliness of the world that is trying so hard to kill you, dust motes drifting softly through its honey-hued light. It's a difficult game to pin down; even the translucent skeleton of the plot is so faint that you may not realize you've finished the game until the credits start rolling. For better or for worse, Feist is a game that's carefully designed to feel like it simply happens—and that's exactly how it feels.

Feist is available on Mac, PC and Linux via Steam, Itch.io, Humble and GOG for $15.