Playing FEZ is as near as I believe I will ever get to reliving my first ever experience with a video game. That first experience is akin to a great epiphany. You never want this new feeling of wonder, awe, and imagination to ever leave you; you have to keep playing just one more level. FEZ brings the same sort of curious magic into an otherwise familiar world of 2D platforming and environmental puzzle-solving.

Much of FEZ's strength is derived from its masterful setup: You're introduced to a colorful, imaginative, retro-style environment boasting intuitive controls as well as tried-and-true platforming elements. And then it blows your mind. Gomez—the player character who can only occupy two dimensional space—is bestowed with the titular fez, granting him the power to change his 2D perspective on this 3D world. So many of the platforming elements we take for granted are suddenly fresh again, and an insatiable hunger for discovering each new twist on age-old ideas drives you throughout the main game.

Scouring every region of the map for secrets and puzzles is blissful and, despite very perplexing puzzles hidden in plain sight, never frustrating. FEZ manages to present challenging brain-teasers alongside simple and engaging spatial-thinking exercises without violating the sanctity of its smooth, accessible gameplay.

The best way I can describe FEZ to you is that it's both 2D and 3D. While the environment itself consists of three dimensions, Gomez can only exist in 2D, where depth has no meaning. Depending upon which of four perspectives you view the world from, Gomez can reach areas that would not be possible in 3D. Two separate patches of vines on a cliff face can become one if you rotate your perspective until the cliff face appears as a single line.

It's this simple, yet effective mechanic that makes FEZ such an intriguing and stimulating adventure.

FEZ's bare-bones story is a nice fit for the classic feel of its 16-bit aesthetics, emulating Mario's timeless 'save the princess' quest. Gomez's own quest is to restore order to the land by collecting pieces of the shattered Hexahedron. Gathering these radiant, golden cubes everywhere as you explore creates a rewarding and almost seamless progression. The only area in which I felt FEZ's world was lacking was inhabitants. The initial village at the game's opening was charming, and I rather enjoyed learning the local name for cubes. It probably goes without saying that I looked forward to meeting whomever or whatever may have resided in the regions beyond. My heart sank when I realized this was a rare occurrence.

Completionists will have a great time with the post-game. Outside collecting lost Hexahedron cubes, there is a wealth of cleverly hidden collectibles and devilish puzzles to be found. That there are even more secrets than cubes concealed throughout FEZ's world map, and the fact that most of them go straight over your head, is a very impressive achievement.

You can't help but enjoy yourself when playing FEZ. It speaks to the innocent and inquisitive nature of our younger selves. Around every corner is a delightful new take on platforming and puzzle elements you thought were a dry well by now; it proves that classic formulas can still be new and exciting. FEZ is an experience that reminds us why we love games.