Level 2 Review: FEZ

-by BigRob
Time Played: 11+ hours via http://raptr.com/bigrob029/wall
System: Xbox Live Arcade
Price: 800ms

There isnt much I can say about Fez that hasn’t already been said. Fez is an awesome game that must be experienced. Its a beautiful as it is fun, and its evokes a level of nostalgia for classic 8bit or 16bit old school games in me that I haven’t had in a long time.

Polytron Corporation's "FEZ"

BigRob’s Rundown:
Fez is almost more a piece of art or an homage to early games (and game design) than it is an actual game. Basically you take on the character of Gomez, a 2D boy who finds out that his world is actually 3D, and you go on an adventure to rebuild the pieces of the magic cube, and thus restore the world. Though the game is not actually a 2D game it imitates the style very well and rarely breaks the aesthetic. Its a basic platformer/puzzler whose gimmick is having you manipulate the world by rotating it 90 degrees at a time. When you rotate the world platforms become accessible (or not) to you and you can eventually reach the goals of the level. This simple mechanic becomes complex in later levels as you encounter various forced perspective puzzles coupled with moving, time based or even invisible platforms.

Once you learn the basic mechanics, rotate world, jump, and climb- you set off on your adventure. The meat of the game has you experiencing a world dedicated to an old school aesthetic complete with a beautiful 8bit-esque score that ranges from ambient and moody, to whimsical and glitchy (maybe its better if you listened for yourself).  Fez basically takes an old school approach to the open-world game. You are usually placed at the bottom of a level and your goal is to reach the top while collecting golden cube shards along the way, but you are allowed free reign in which to complete the task. There are no enemies in Fez, you can only die by being crushed or falling… spoiler: and sometimes by being sucked into a black hole.

As players progress they will learn that this platform puzzler is more puzzler than platformer and the questions posed by the puzzles you encounter sometimes question the very universe you are exploring. This deeper meanings hidden inside the game can easily be missed on the first playthrough. Fortunately, there is a new game plus that allows you to explore the game from a slightly different perspective. The sheer number of collectibles, hidden items and maddening puzzles alone are enough to keep even the most hardcore completionists at work for quite a while. Fez sports its own various cryptic language, alphabet and number system; it was intimidating enough for me to actually break out a pen and pad, but deciphering things did reveal many hidden treasures (anticubes) and answers for me. The upper level metagame is definitely frustrating at times, I honestly suggest you do everything you can on your own to get at much feeling of accomplishment as you can. When you have exhausted all you can, just go online. There is way too much stuff in this game to get frustrated and miss out on.

Finding cubes never gets old.

BigRob’s Protip:
Learn the map, keep an eye on it. The map is very weird but very useful, it doesn’t tell you how to get to where you want to go but it does tell you if you have done everything where you have been. So, it’s not really a traditionally helpful map but if you want to see everything it is essential to keep a keen eye on it.

The Cons:
-unless you put the time in, you won’t see a lot of the game
-the map is weird
-you eventually have to turn to the internet to figure stuff out and feel dirty about it

BigRob’s Decision:
Obviously, this is a must have for any gamer- old school, new school, whatever. Fez has its quirks and most people won’t see everything the game has to offer (which is truly sad), but the things most people will see are awesome. This is a game that simply must be experienced first hand, which easily places it in my top 5 for game of the year.

By rupees, I mean MS points.