Final Thoughts 30: Fez - SnakePlissken722 Blog - www.GameInformer.com
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Final Thoughts 30: Fez

 

Final Thoughts 30

Fez

 

 

Note: This is not a review, but merely my musings after having recently completed a game as part of my Rogue's Adventures playthrough of my backlog. Follow @RoguesAdventure to keep up with my playthroughs and check out my live streams at twitch.tv/gorbash722.

 

Developer: Polytron Corporation

Publisher: Polytron Corporation, Trapdoor

Release Date: April 13, 2012

Fez is probably one of the more famous, and certainly one of the most infamous indie games ever made thanks to a long and public five year development cycle and rather vocal developer Phil Fish. The work paid off - the game sold over a million copies and received universal praise, though any talk of a sequel has been squelched when Fish abruptly left the industry.

On the surface Fez appears to be just another 2D puzzle-platformer, but thanks to an ingenious mechanic and some impressive level design and world building you can rotate the entire world like a 3D cube, creating four different layers of the same map to traverse. Our goofy marshmallow-man hero Gomez is bestowed a magical Fez, giving him these miraculous world-shifting powers, and he's the only one that can find all the scattered cubes.

The story is just that - find the scattered gold cubes, bits, and anti-cubes throughout the many worlds. I managed to find all 32 gold cubes by simply exploring the huge, interconnected world (I did have to look up one bizarre puzzle involving talking to various owls). The anti-cubes however, are often hidden behind devious secrets, ranging from "ah-ha" puzzle moments to a complex system of cryptography that also gives an air of mystery to the world.

Although most levels are suspended in the air, falling to your doom results in an immediate respawn with no penalties. There are no enemies, no bosses, and no real sense of danger. Honestly, anyone complaining that Gone Home isn't a game because of the lack of consequence would have to make the same complaint about Fez. I really appreciated this more casual approach to game design and could focus fully on exploring the world and solving puzzles.

Once you obtain 32 cubes you can open the final door that leads to the finale and an appropriately bizarre ending that definitely tricked me. I won't spoil it but it's a funny and surreal moment. The full 64 cube "good ending" is different, in a very similar way. Yeah, it's weird.

Like Portal, Fez's greatest strength is doubling down on its core puzzle-solving mechanic. While Fez lacks Portal's intriguing story it makes up for it with interesting open-ended level design. Thankfully a helpful web-like 3D map, warp gates and shortcuts help cut down on any tedious backtracking.

I rarely found myself having to go through levels again just to reach another area and could almost always press forward to new levels and hub worlds. Had I wanted to reach all the anti-cubes and solve some of the more obtuse puzzles I would have utilized them even more to reach each area I skipped, as secrets, cubes, and chests are clearly marked on the map.

Though I didn't quite have the patience to 100% Fez (or in a nod to Castlevania: SoTN, 209.4%) I still really enjoyed the 8 or so hours I spent relaxingly exploring the world and listening to the incredible soundtrack. Little touches like seeing the connected levels in the distant background really made this pixelated world come alive, and varying hub worlds were nicely connected by both aesthetic and puzzle designs (the Gameboy-like monochrome levels were especially trippy).

It certainly lived up to its reputation as the 3D rotation is supremely interesting, creating multiple 2D levels that I've only experienced before in Paper Mario, and I love that the emphasis is on puzzle-solving and exploration over defeating foes or completing challenges. Fez should definitely not be missed by anyone.

Pros

+ Brilliant 3D rotational mechanic in a 2D world

+ Lovely soundtrack

+ Useful map detailing which areas have secrets and collectibles


Cons

- The only story is exploring the mysterious world

- If you're not into cryptography, prepare to look up about half the anti-cube puzzles


Final Say: Highly recommended for fans of puzzle-platformers and those looking for a much less violent and more cerebral game design.

 

 

 

 

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