By Knowl 1 Comments
Living without an internet connection for three weeks probably doesn’t sound like that much of a horrible disaster for those of you with perspective.
You don’t have a brother who sends you copious text messages about how great Fez is. Nonetheless, after a weekend of deciphering (most of) its not-insubstantial mysteries, I find myself coming away from Fez with a thoroughly exercised brain and seven pages of scribbled notes that, when discovered by the historians of the future, will read like the ramblings of a psychopath.
The game is a 2D platformer that revolves (hah) around the conceit that, while the player can only move across a two-dimensional plane, the world itself is three-dimensional and can be rotated 90 degrees in any direction. This makes for some quite nifty platforming puzzles to begin with, and quickly turns out to be an incredibly powerful tool for traversing the game’s world as you become more proficient at it.
Fez would be a good enough game were it to take this premise and run with it for the entire game; that it proceeds to weave in a rich, non-linear adventure game is to Polytron’s credit. The game does very little hand-holding with regards to puzzles and their solutions, which at times can be frustrating as there will be little to no indication of even how to approach solving some very obtuse puzzles.
That’s where the pages of notes come in. Fez has a very old-school design ethic; there are solutions to the puzzles in the game, and it’s entirely up to you how much you are prepared to invest in order to find them. It encourages you to experiment with code-breaking and button inputs without ever asking you to Just Watch One We Did Earlier. Usually, you can find solutions for anything you get stuck with on the internet - from what I understand, there are puzzles in Fez that haven’t been solved by anyone yet, weeks after release. The process of figuring out what these owls mean, what the tetris blocks stand for, what that hexahedron is talking about, is an absolute blast, with a great sense of reward derived solely from succeeding.
Before I hit that barrier of challenge, though, Fez was a lot of fun purely because of the quality of its world and the act of navigating it. It throws up memories of games such as Solstice and Super Metroid in the sense that its non-linearity and obscurity encourages repeat visits, and the mechanics of platforming make it such a joy to do so.
I just reviewed Fez, didn’t I? Oops. I give it Dope/10.