Out of the gate Fez appears to be just a platformer where you turn the world’s dimensions transitioning it from 2D to 3D. Fez appears to be an Echochrome knockoff that was in development for too long. This is only until you realize how your in over your head with Fez’s deep puzzles and variety of game play that encompass the world. There are Secrets with Secrets and an entire language system in place inside this small XBLA exclusive. It doesn’t stop there and I wouldn’t dream of ruining it. Even when you think you finished the game your perspective is opened up to new ways of thinking.
On the surface Fez is just an 8 bit, 2D title that we have seen before. Instead this picture plays out like an interpretation of what 8 bit was. The world of Fez is gorgeous, blocky, and has a lot of depth that is revealed by revolving the world. The crying waterfall area is a great example of something that eclipses the 8 bit era in the graphical depth. Adding to this is an ambient soundtrack that barely, and rarely, repeats. Each song sets the theme and pace that you’re in for a slow journey.
The puzzles in Fez put a game like Braid to shame. Puzzles we saw in Braid that blew our minds a few years ago are nothing to the complex world of Fez. You can beat the game by solving the puzzle platforming and messing with the world perspective but to complete it you’ll have to enter the deeper puzzles. To do this you’ll be scanning QR codes, solving button combinations and, oh yeah, translating an entire language. This is a game you’ll need to turn to a guide for some kind of help at some point if even just to push you in the right direction. The “anticubes” which make up the majority of the crazier puzzles are a nightmare to collect but the challenge is hard to pass up. Fez is full of mysteries and they are fun to solve.
Games like Fez do not come around often. Forget the titles of indie, retro, and mashup. The only title Fez deserves is masterpiece. The game excels at everything it tries to accomplish and many of those things haven’t been done before. This is a game void of enemies, an element of video games thrown out for pure trial and error. It’s an element that you don’t even miss.
The standards we measure games by like graphics or audio are just smashed out of the park. It’s easy to put Fez in a category with Castle Crashers, Shadow Complex, and Braid. Games that deserve to take on the big retail games at the end of the year for the best. Fez is available for 800 Microsoft Points on the Xbox Marketplace right now.
- Ambient Soundtrack with almost no repeating tracks
- Some of the best map exploration seen in a platformer ever
- The puzzles are on a different level than what we once discussed with Braid or Portal
- The QR codes are hard to scan from your phone
- Booting to dashboard errors can occur but not often