More often than not, a game with a troubled development cycle is destined for mediocrity. Since its announcement nearly five years ago, "Fez" has gone through several iterations as its creator, Phil Fish, sought perfection from his deeply personal product.         Despite its perpetually delayed release date, "Fez" has finally emerged as a beautifully crafted game that forces players to change their perspective uncovering the world's many mysteries.

            The game opens in a 2D world whose inhabitants have no perception of alternate dimensions. You play as Gomez, a happy member of this primitive society who suddenly discovers that his 2D village is merely a snapshot of the 3D world he actually inhabits. Gaining the ability to shift dimensions due to his newly acquired fez, players must recover the hidden cubes necessary to restore the recently shattered universe.

            Gameplay revolves around this perspective-shifting ability. Every object has four sides that appear as 2D planes, but when you shift perspective they often work in tandem to help the player advance or solve various puzzles.

            Some areas may have a platform on an alternate side you can jump on, or you may have to rapidly shift perspective to latch onto some climbable ivy around the corner. Puzzles are challenging but rewarding with a solution often revealing itself before frustration sets in.

            Many of the more cryptic puzzles will require mind-numbing amounts of concentration, but these are often relegated to additional collectibles that aren't imperative to the main story.

            New gameplay elements are constantly introduced throughout each distinct environment as well. Whether it's following an explosion around the various sides of a building, shifting directions of rising platforms or time-sensitive climbing puzzles, every new wrinkle diversifies the puzzle solving while working within the confines of the game's primary dimension-shifting element.

            The sheer number of collectibles is impressive, collecting the 32 cubes required to complete the primary path took around eight hours. However, that was only half of the 64 cubes in the game and while skipping most of the more esoteric puzzles. Polytron has smartly included a new game plus option that allows players to continue their dimension-shifting quest with all their previous collectibles intact.

            The world itself can be overwhelming; new levels open up rapidly and players can easily get lost amid the many backdoors and secret passages. Exploration and losing oneself in the gorgeous environments is entertaining, but it can make it difficult to return to areas once you've unlocked most of the map.

            Although they include various warp gates for speedier transport, having to traverse many of the puzzles again to reach a specific point I wanted to return to was more tiresome than enjoyable.

            There are five main gates to unlock, each one leading to a vastly different setting. The graphics appear primitive because of their pixelation, but the art and various environments are wonderfully animated. A pitch perfect musical score also underscores the tone of every new locale.

            On its surface, "Fez" is a fairly simplistic game, you work on a 2D plane traversing new areas hoping to find the most basic of 3D objects: a cube. Yet, when you take a closer look, you're forced to shift your perspective and the brilliance of "Fez" becomes apparent.

            Almost every puzzle provides that wondrous "ah-ha" moment when you finally discover the solution. Each environment offers new gameplay to expand your shifting repertoire and gives the player another wondrous landscape to explore.

            Despite the sometimes tiring exploration and loading issues, "Fez" stands out as one of the best downloadable games this generation. With limited story, the amazing gameplay is the main attraction throughout the entire experience, an idea every gamer should relate to no matter what perspective they're viewing it from.

As published by The Daily Cardinal