Fez is a mind-boggling 2D platformer. But it is not just a 2D platformer; it is, in fact, set in a 3D world. Every level can be viewed from four viewpoints, rotated by 90 degrees. Take a die, with a 6 on the top, and 1 on the bottom, and the four sides you can view are 2, 3, 4 and 5. At first this does seem confusing, but after an hour or so of gameplay, you will easily find the levels intuitive.
You play a creature called Gomez, who at first thinks that he is living in a 2D world. One day, a cube appears in the sky and he is given the power of being able to view the world from different perspectives through the power of a fez. Without giving too much of the story away, the basic premise for the game is to collect cubes and anti-cubes.
There are many environments and rooms to discover, some with cube pieces in them, some with puzzles and others with information about the world that you inhabit. Once you have collected keys or a specified number of cubes or anti-cubes, you can unlock more doors to more levels.
The puzzles in the game range from the simple, like trying to negotiate your way up to the top of a level to collect a cube, to the not-so-simple. The more difficult puzzles can involve deciphering of a written message by working out the in-game language, or translating codes into button presses. You can also collect treasure maps that give you hints towards finding goodies in the game and QR codes that require decoding.
Don’t expect to solve all the mysteries of Fez in just one play through. After one ending of the game, you can start a new game +, giving you a new power that can help you solve even more puzzles and collect more cubes, which will then lead to at least two more endings.
The delightful and quirky game is extremely enjoyable and addictive, and I often thought about puzzles long after turning it off. As a lover of puzzle type games, this really had it all. Fez is set in a great universe with a mixture of simple and complex things to do, and there is some good humour thrown in too. Playing this game without the use of a guide proves very difficult in some places, but this all depends on the way you want to play – if you prefer to prove to yourself you can do it, then there is nothing more satisfying than solving a challenging puzzle or working out what symbols mean. However, there is plenty of help available online (which I must admit to using once or twice!).
The game has been extremely well conceived. For example, if you have been through a door before, a small picture of the room will hover near it when you are close. There are also “warp gates” between the main areas of the game, and “small gates” to get you back to a main warp gate when you come to some dead ends.
You also can get a tutorial at any time if you are near a special item. For example a pressing the B button near a treasure chest will provide a refresher on how to open it.
Although this is a cleverly constructed game, I have discovered a couple of issues. Specifically, I encountered some glitches resulting in crashes back to the Dashboard. This has been annoying, but with autosave, I never ended up far from upon restarting. I have seen that people have also had issues with game-breaking glitches leaving a corrupted game save in their wake, although these seem to be few and far between.
Furthermore, the in-game map is not without its issues. By pressing “back” on the controller, a map is shown displaying all the levels you have been to so far, and ones yet to be discovered. This is a great way to see your progress and missed doors. Each place you have been is pictured within its own cube, with lines connecting adjacent regions. For places where you have found all the collectables, treasure, doors, secrets and cubes, the outline turns gold. Otherwise, there are symbols beside the cube showing what you have missed. Once you have visited most places on the map, it can get very confusing. Lines on the map cross each other, and if you’re zoomed in quite far, rooms do not show up. You can rotate the map screen just like in the game, but for quick glances you can’t always see how to get to where you need to be.
For what is a very reasonable price of 800MSP, Fez is a game that will give you hours of gameplay. There are still questions unanswered, even with the collective mind of the internet, so who knows how much the game has to offer. I do know that, even now, you will get a lot of enjoyment and frustration from this game if you are at all interested in puzzles. The cuteness and originality far exceeded my first expectations, and bodes for an overall excellent game.