Meet FEZ, an adventure puzzle game that will rewire your brain as things you have learnt and take for granted are tossed at you, and turn into something else just before you can react.
Not following? That is probably because you are only seeing a square, and not the whole cube. Here, let me fix that for you.
FEZ follows the tale of Gomez, who learns that there is much more to life than the 2 dimensions he occupies. In fact, there are 3 dimensions. However, FEZ only allows you to see them two at a time. Still with me? Imagine yourself running along in 2D. You are running along when you notice the gap is way too large to jump across, so you change the camera angle 90 degrees to the right, where you see yourself standing on another 2D plane, with the gap looking a lot smaller than before. Wait, what?
Did you do technical drawing in school? If so, you know the secrets of first and third angle orthographic projection and this game’s views will feel comfortable to you. However, if you slept through class instead, you might find the idea of a game that is 2D and 3D at the same time a bit troubling. Basically, even though things are 3D, what you see when in 2D is all that exists: there is no depth. Making use of this, you and Gomez will be able to journey to places unreachable by those bound to just a single view of the 2D world.
What is so fascinating about the world of FEZ is how quickly the system starts feeling natural and logical. Playing the first stage again, I can’t believe how much faster I can find rooms and work out how to get to them.
The game features cute graphics, but isn’t for children. Rather the game is for those who have been gaming since 8 bit was the height of gaming graphics. The music is oddly relaxing and as you probably read here , contains clues when fed through a spectrum analyser. How far down this meta referential rabbit hole will you go?
Sadly, the game suffers from lag in the later levels. Where there were once smooth transitions between levels, the stutter becomes more and more evident, sometimes with the level disappearing and then reloading. Thankfully it is in no way game breaking. I have a feeling it may be my brain speeding up after solving inputs and cryptographic puzzles, rather than the game slowing down. Because there are many more puzzles than meet the eye. Prepare to become a code breaker, and have some paper handy to jot down notes (My iPad has enough scrawls and notes saved to have me institutionalised). The amount of code reading is up to the player, as the game can be completed without doing anything too difficult. Getting every single collectible, however, will have you dreaming of cubes inside cubes inside cubes.
FEZ has a new game plus mode, which allows you to solve certain puzzles that seemed to not have apparent answers the first time round. Wait, a lot of the puzzles still seem to not have apparent answers, oh dear.
FEZ is easy in the same way that wrapping your brain around your stomach while drinking hooch is easy. This is to say: the more hooch you drink, the more sense all of this will make. If you like puzzles, references to other games and puzzles inside puzzles with very little besides visual clues, FEZ is for you. If you are long in the tooth and grew up playing 8 bit games, FEZ is for you. It is not often that a puzzle platformer gets me to the 9 hour mark and has me begging for more, something FEZ has managed. Now to find the last few cubes in new game plus…
Also, if you don’t chuckle at the BIOS screen, you are dead to me.
Fez was reviewed by Garth Holden