Fez may look like a nice little indie platformer with not much depth to it but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Fez is actually a pretty damn clever puzzle-platformer that actually needs you to make notes if you are going to get the most out of it.
Fez might look like your typical pixel art, indie platformer that seems to be all the rage these days and, on the surface, it sort of is, but if you dig a little deeper that couldn’t be any more wrong. Fez hides some pretty ingenious puzzles behind its cute pixel art style that require you to really think and in some cases even take notes.
In Fez you play as Gomez, a white, pixel thing who wakes up one day and receives his own Fez after climbing to the top of his village. The Fez allows Gomez to rotate his world 90 degrees and find out that he doesn’t live in a 2D world, but on a plane of a 3D one. This rotation ability is your main tool. It lets you explore areas, finding hidden doorways or letting you jump to a platform thanks to a change in perspective. The game wants you to collect golden cubes, a reasonable enough motive for a platformer. Most of these gold cubes can be obtained through traditional platforming and collecting 8 cube bits to make a whole cube.
With Fez you don’t even need to solve any of the deeper puzzles to enjoy the game. You can go through playing it as you would any other collectathon platformer and get a good few hours of enjoyment out of the game by focusing on just getting the 32 Cube minimum needed to reach the “ending”. It’s easy to do though as the game has no enemies and the penalty for death is to respawn you on the last safe platform you stood on. The real enjoyment (at least for me) comes from the puzzles and deciphering the instructions to solve them.
Everything needed to solve the puzzles needed to get the 32 Anti-Cubes can be found in the game if you look and work hard enough. The game never out right tells you what is or isn’t important but pretty much everything in Fez is there for a reason from the position of certain fauna to notes stuck to walls. There is even a number and alphabet system to be deciphered that I needed to get a pen and paper out for. It’s probably best to leave that stuff for your play-through on “New Game +” as you get an ability that really helps out. There are even a few fiendishly hard ‘extra’ puzzles to complete once you’ve obtained all 64 cubes.
While Fez is a great work out for your brain it’s also a visual and audio treat. Fez looks amazing with some brilliantly designed areas with a lot of variety including a monochromatic sewer area based on the style of visuals from the original Game Boy and a really atmospheric graveyard area with rain and lightening that just looks great. The whole world of Fez is great, full of really interesting areas and locations, there is so much to see in this game. Fez’s music is also fantastic and fits the old school 2D game feel the game strives for to a tee.
Sadly, Fez isn’t all sunshine and lolly pops. The game does suffer from several different bugs that can really hamper your enjoyment of the game including a bug that introduces an extra Anti-Cube that if collected leaves you with more than 64 total cubes and locks you out of the ‘complete’ ending. The game also suffers from some dramtic frame drops when loading in new areas and has a tendency to crash to the dashboard for seemingly random reasons at times. You never lose much progress due to these crashes because the game is very generous with its auto-save (saving whenever you enter a new location) so it isn’t much more than a mild annoyance. Fez really feels like it could have benefited from a few more testers.
Fez was much, much more than what I first imagined. I didn’t know much about the game going in apart from that is looked lovely and had a cool rotation mechanic so I was pleasantly surprised when the game turned out to be a pretty intellectual puzzle-platformer. If you just want a cute 2D platformer you’d probably end up being disappointed or frustrated with Fez. Fez is much more of a puzzle/adventure game than it is a platformer and is certainly not for everyone. I’d highly recommend it if you want a game that will make you think and really suck you.
Fez may look like a nice little, pixel art, indie platformer with not much depth to it other than the power to rotate but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Fez is actually a pretty damn clever puzzle-platformer that actually needs you to make notes if you are going to get the most out of it.