One Part Puzzles, One Part Pixels, 100% Madness
I have reached my breaking point as I stare into the library on the screen. The last golden cube bit hiding some where in this room. All the clues are right in front of me, but I just can’t figure it out. I lay the controller down, defeated. I stare at my phone ready to lookup any guide for answers.
Then, a chip-tune melody plays from the screen as I notice my 1-year old son fiddling with the controller. I quickly snatch it away from him and enter the secret passage that had eluded me for hours, where I collect the final cube. Triumphantly, I stand in front of my Xbox with my chest out. Victorious… with my son behind me screaming for the controller back.
That is what Fez is all about. Well, not about making your children cry. It is about the wonder of exploration and the excitement of discovery. Granted, my last cube-bit was a bittersweet moment, but you get the point.
In Fez, you play as a young adventurer known as Gomez. He has been given the task of exploring forgotten worlds to seek out treasures. He has also been granted the power to travel into the 3 dimension by rotating the world, which he only knew as being a flat and two dimensions. And it is with this new power that Gomez accidently breaks apart a golden cube and scatters its bits throughout these barren worlds.
With the ability to now rotate your viewpoint, the search for these golden cube bits become puzzles about manipulating the environment to create paths to collectables. What might appear to be a chasm in one viewpoint can be rotated to reveal a bridge to a treasure in another perspective.
A lot of the treasures and traversing in the world of Fez can be done by figuring out which way to rotate the environment. The rest of the in-game puzzles, however, require more thinking. Puzzles range from those of simple logic, to deciphering an elaborate code for communication, to recognizing patterns through tactile feedback.
Even though some of these puzzles can appear to be borderline impossible at times, the developers at Polytron make sure to leave clues on how to solves these mysteries in the gaming environment around you. Sometimes these clues are right in front of you. On others, the clue can be waiting or you in a room on the opposite end of the world map.
Patience goes along way in Fez. If you can’t figure out the puzzle at the moment, just walk away and come back to it at a later time. The moment when you figure out the solution to a puzzle on your own is one of the most satisfying experiences you can have, and is well worth the time and frustration in the game.
But enough about puzzles, let us talk about the game art. Beautiful! The pixel art, at first glance, may appear to be simple. However, the first instance you get to rotate the pixelated scenery around is when you can appreciate the level of detail put into the Fez universe. It is fun to watch these worlds come to life with the pixelated critters roaming about as day and night cycles transform the scenery. There are several distinct worlds all paying homage to classic platforming games, with the forrest levels easily being my favorite.
I do believe that perseverance is the name of the game, but in the end, this game is what you make of it. You can run though puzzles as fast as you can to get it over with, or take your time and dig as deep as you want into ancient Fez lore. This type of puzzle platforming is a rare find in gaming nowadays, rewarding those willing to use a little elbow grease. Either that, or I might just be a little on the crazy side.