Review Roundup Plus: FEZ

Posted on Monday, April 23rd 2012 at 11:02 p.m.

Fez is a simply amazing and creative experience delivered from the mind of developer Polytron and the ever interesting, Phil Fish. It has caused me to think and look at my gaming experiences in a way I had not in a long time. In a manner similar to Braid , Fez takes a very standard looking 2D platformer and twists it almost completely into a new style of game while maintaining a lot of very common conveyances. There are however some very serious divergences which not only make this experience stand out, but also serve to make this game one of creative and logical thinking that it seems many users have struggled with, myself included. My discussion of Fez’s world will be purposefully vague and lacking on details simply because much of the enjoyment and wonder of Fez lies in discovering its enormous quantity of secrets and easter eggs. Be warned that some of the Reviews deliver a lot of information about the world, so if you want to be surprised, tread carefully.

While Fez is primarily a 2D platformer, it is actually set in a 3D world where you are locked into a particular plane. While the world is essentially always presented to you as a 2D plane, you will be able to rotate the world left and right in 90 degree increments to see all four sides of each object. You will be using this manipulation technique to guide the fez wearing Gomez through the world in search of Cubes which will grant you access to new areas and secrets. As you progress you will uncover more layers of puzzles and depth simply by learning new ways of interacting with the world and decoding the puzzles presented to you. Progression and success in Fez is truly tied to learning about the world and being mindful of all of the information presented to you. Unfortunately for many, the context for understanding or simply ‘getting’ some of the puzzles is just not clear enough, and finding all of the games Cubes and secrets will very likely lead you to message boards or FAQs for solutions and hints.

My main concerns or frustration with Fez rest on that failure of delivery. I have spoken with a few folks and heard on multiple podcasts and read on a few message boards that most folks are hitting the Fez ‘WALL’ around the same time. I can understand how the presentation and evolution of gaming may be playing a part in how we may be currently conditioned regarding puzzles and expectations of hints and solutions within the game, but I also feel it rests on the developer to either understand his customers and play into those expectations in at least some way, to better provide context within the game itself to assist in the decoding of the games secrets in a slightly more visible manner or to position the game as something that is intended to truly be a collaborative effort. Despite that, and despite using guides to get me over a few humps, I still felt great satisfaction in the puzzles I was able to solve on my own and there are some very unique and rewarding experiences contained in Fez which are worth the price. Let’s look through the magic window and see what everyone else says…

Jeff Gerstman at Giant Bomb puts on his fez and robe (4/5): “Exploring the world of Fez is wonder on its own. Despite its deliberately simple look, the world has a collection of vastly different areas to explore, and I was continually surprised by the number of different-looking areas to uncover. “

Jim Sterling at Destructoid is wearing his fez and shades (9.0/10): ”FEZ is simply a joy to play. More than once, I had to smirk at just how clever the game had been with its puzzles, and when you get into a real flow, rotating the world to keep Gomez platforming along at a seamless pace, you feel justifiably terrific.”

Jessica Conditt at joystiq takes her hat off to Fez (5/5): ”I haven’t smiled as much while playing a game since my first multiplayer run of LittleBigPlanet, and even then I was only smiling because I was terrible and enjoyed frustrating my friends as they ran gracefully through the levels. Fez is comparable to Braid or Limbo in terms of recent indie platformers, but it is infinitely more heartwarming than Braid and less terrifying than Limbo.”

- Matt Swenk - @mattswenk

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