Our Rating :
If you haven't had a chance to watch the documentary Indie Game: The Movie (2012), go watch that before reading this review!
Despite all of the controversy surrounding its development, Polytron & Phil Fish have successfully launched this highly anticipated title for the PC. I grabbed my copy through Steam, plugged in the XBOX 360 controller, and immersed myself in the game for a few days. Here's my $0.02.
The premise of this game follows a cute little dude named Gomez, who is granted a little red Fez hat which turns his life around… literally… from a 2D environment to a fully 3D world. The mystical golden cube which grants him the Fez seemingly becomes corrupt and explodes into many fragments which you must collect to progress. In addition to the golden cube fragments, Fez also rewards anti-cubes which are a bit harder to unlock (typically by completing a particularly challenging sequence or puzzle). There are 32 of each type, and the game-ending changes when all 64 cubes are unlocked!
One of the quotes from Indie Game: The Movie which really stuck with me before playing this game came from its creator, Phil Fish. He said [paraphrased], “Fez is a stop and smell the roses kind of game”. One of his goals, as evidenced in commentary from the documentary, was to bring back the difficult and rewarding puzzle-solving moments from yesteryear’s games. Fez provides plenty of puzzles to solve, allowing for a maximum completion of 209.4% (all 64 cubes); requiring you to play through the game a couple of different times, giving you a unique… um… ‘Perspective’ to solve remaining riddles each time.
Without spoiling any of the puzzles, let me just say that the depth of some puzzles will take you outside of the game to solve. You’ll need to decode Fez’s numeral and alphabet systems, Tetris-piece cryptography, and utilize treasure maps you find throughout the game to solve some of the toughest pieces. **MILD SPOILERS** There is even one puzzle which has to do with converting an image into a binary signal, then taking the binary string and converting to hex. Yet another puzzle suggests the use of a QR reader to solve – yes, you can literally scan the screen with your Smartphone to unlock a puzzle.
Enough about the puzzles, Fez brings plenty of other features to the table as well. By using the right and left trigger buttons you quickly realize that this cute, pixel art world is actually a 3D environment that you must manipulate to progress. In fact, certain treasures and rooms will only be available to you by mastering this aspect of gameplay. Timing the map rotation with your jumps becomes natural without too much effort, and most importantly it feels like a polished transition each time.
• Price is $10 USD on Steam. You’ll be hard-pressed to get more gameplay out of your money.
• There is no penalty for anything in this game. Play it at your own pace. Great for casual gaming, but will consume you if you want it to.
• The puzzles are tough. I dare you to unlock them all without cheating. You may wish to keep a few notepads/napkins handy to scribble on.
• The sound effects and soundtrack are phenomenal. Chiptunes reminiscent of my younger gaming years filled me with a sense of nostalgia that really added to my enjoyment of the game.
• The pixel-art in this game will blow your mind. Every level, every room, every detail. Just wow.
• There are no instructions; you must figure the game out for yourself. No Call of Duty hand-holding or obnoxious “Press X to do Y” spam.
• Rare encounters with a save-game bug or crashing will have you pulling your hair out. Happened to me twice in 30 hours of play.
• If you're looking for fast-paced action or competitive gameplay... This is just not that kind of game.
Fez does an amazing job of replicating the feelings of awe we experienced as kids playing through some of the more rewarding NES/SNES/SEGA titles. If you are looking for a change of pace from other PC games and want to challenge yourself, I fully recommend this game. You will not be disappointed. I can do nothing more than hope there will be a Fez 2. Try it out and let us know what you think!
Collectibles that you may like