Game title: Fez
Platform: Xbox live Arcade, Steam, Playstation Network
ESRB Rating: Everyone
Release date: April 12, 2012
Overall rating: 9/10
Ill admit, I am a sucker when it comes to downloadable games. Most of the time I check the indie section of the Xbox live arcade when I have a few Microsoft points to spend. And when I have a few extra dollars to splurge, I check out the actual arcade. I usually buy re-releases of games that I had from my childhood such as Sonic 1-3/knuckles, Doom ½, and some remakes like Bionic Commando: Rearmed. With that said, it wasn't until I watched “Indie game: the movie” (which btw, if you are interested in video games AT ALL, it is a must watch) that I found out about a puzzle platformer called FEZ.
The story begins when Gomez wakes up from his bed and walks outside to see his mail has not shown up. His neighbor tells him to go up to the top of the hill and so he does. There he finds the Hexahedron that bestows upon him the FEZ, a fez hat that allows him to shift dimensions inside his world. As the hexahedron spins, it shatters and Gomez's world glitches out and forces the game to restart. When he wakes up...again...a hypercube tells him that he must collect 32 cubic pieces to reform the Hexahedron before the entire universe breaks.
The plot, while simple, has this “bigger then life” feel to it. You feel like you’re just a small dude who has this now incredible power to save the world. You suddenly feel important. I feel that makes a major difference in this game because, while there are no enemies in it, you deal with a lot of danger.
This is where the game really shines. As is standard in platformers, you jump, climb and swim to different platforms, collecting cube fragments along the way and just trying to survive. The twist is that your 2d view is just one side of a 3d environment. Pressing the trigger buttons rotates the world to the next side. More often than not, you get a very different perspective on where your position is. A lot of puzzles rely on you being on one side, then switching to another side to navigate your way through the level. It can also be used as a faster way to travel around. See yourself going a long way down a hall way? Just switch to the next side and boom, you’re already there. However, this does cause problems with the engine once or twice, and occasionally you will fall through at random. The good thing is, if you die, you start back at the last solid stable spot you died at.
You navigate through 5 worlds, finishing up at a GIGANTIC 6th world. Each world has a small gimick that gives a new twist to the perspective switching. One world might rely on raising or lowering water levels to get to certain areas, while another makes you turn a giant wheel to switch up some platforms on a time limit. Each area has its own unique feel, and you easily recognize which world is which.
The puzzle element is executed perfectly. Each puzzle makes you think hard about what you’re doing and trying to figure out what you need to do to get each cube. Througout the game you get artifacts. These artifacts help you solve puzzles within the game. The game has its own alphabet and numbering system, which really adds depth to the world you’re playing in. With that said though, there are times where you will need to look up answers. Some puzzles require you to memorize the alphabet in the language given and it will make your head hurt, especially the ones that require you to do a certain button press. Though if you take the time to figure out the alphabet and make the correct patterns, you will feel like a genius.
While there are a few tracks in the game, a lot of the music comes from the ambiance of the areas. Each song has a very soft, easy tune. It fits the game very very well and keeps you very relaxed when you are climbing through your way through the stage. Though it can get a bit repetative when you’re stuck on one puzzle and hearing the same track over and over. Thankfully the music does take breaks when night time approaches. Letting the sounds of seagulls fill the air. There is very little “voice acting” as the voices are pretty much just glitched up sounds. Sound effects are used well, and everything sounds as it should be.
Beautiful. The game is stylized in an 8 bit way. Everything is pixelated, and it reminds me a lot of the Genesis Sonic games. The grid like feel of the game fits very well when changing perspectives and it's especially smooth when transitioning. It. honestly, feels like you are a 2d sprite on a 3d environment. Nostalgia or not, this is one of the best uses of pixel art I have ever seen.
Replay Value: 8/10
After you beat the game, you do unlock an item that allows you to view the environment from first person mode, showing off the 3d models of pretty much everything. I had a lot of fun just going around each area and seeing if there's something I missed during my first playthrough. The world is full of little easter eggs and secrets that it will keep you occupied for a while. Though, eventually, it does get boring, and you will put this game in the back of your “recently played” lis, but, much like an adventure game, you will get curious again and come back to it with a fresh mind and a new experience.
I really really enjoyed my time with FEZ. The puzzles were mind bending and made me feel like my IQ was rising with each solution, the graphics gave me a wave of nostalgia and beauty, the music relaxed my soul and made me feel at ease, and, overall, it was a very very enjoyable experience. I say definetly get if you are looking to work your brain out and want to have some of that good old classic platformer feeling.
It makes you feel like going on an epic quest, but there is not much personality in the characters.
It is innovative, fun, challenging (though, at times, a bit too much), and relaxing.
Music is very soothing, though can be repetative, and sound effects do their job.
You will explore the world just to see what designs are coming up and be amazed at the scrolling effects.
Replay value: 8/10
Once you finish the game, you will want to explore more, but only for a little while.