For those of you that are perhaps uninitiated in the world of gaming, Fez may have passed you by and that is forgivable. For those who do consider themselves gamers and have not at least heard of Fez, then shame on you. For Fez is, for lack of a better description, wholly immersive.
Fez, a retro-styled puzzle platformer, is the story of Gomez, a little blob person with a head that really shouldn’t be supported by his body, lives in a peaceful 2D village with other blob people. However, Gomez sees the breakup of a massive golden hexahedron which causes the very fabric of his world to begin tearing itself apart.
Gomez, now bestowed with the titular fez, now discovers that the world is actually made up of three dimensions and he must use these dimensions to find all 32 cube pieces, most of which have split into eight pieces, of the hexahedron and save his world!
Fez is blissful relaxing, with no enemies of any sort and failure seeming to have no presence in the game. Indeed, you can fall to your death or be absorbed by the black holes which show the disintegration our Gomez’s world, but you are immediately transported back to the last place you stood so there really isn’t much to stop you.
While solving the mildly puzzling puzzles is a good feature of the game play, and collecting the cubes is joyous especially when Gomez literally jumps for joy whenever he gets a full cube, the real joy is passing through the many different worlds to get the cubes.
The joy you find from this is the beautiful 1980’s retro theme to the entire game, but with modern graphics so it doesn’t look like you can make out individual pixels, and see the game desperately trying to load itself as you walk across the screen.
There are also loads of little extras for people to enjoy, like discovering treasure maps, collecting “anti-cubes”, finding keys for secret areas and more. Also, for all you Zelda fans, there is a little Navi styled thing called Dot who helps you through the game, though that could be argued at times.
If I had one criticism, it would be this. There is a lot of backtracking. And I mean a lot of backtracking. If you find one of the puzzles too puzzling and you think “I’ll figure out later”, do not do this. Seriously. DO NOT DO THIS. There is not fast track feature. There is a map to help you figure where you are going, but you can’t skip between levels you’ve found.
Yet somehow even this can be turned into a positive. Although it may annoy you that you’ll be backtracking to get cubes, you almost need not backtrack anywhere. That’s because you only need 32 cubes to win the game, but there are a possible 64 to get to get you the “true ending”. There’s so much to explore, and so much beautifully retro scenery to see and puzzles to solve, you can’t really hate the exploring as ,even though the backtracking can get annoying, you’ll always find something new to see and to solve.
Fez is a fun game for idle amusement which designer Phil Fish best described as a “‘stop and smell the flowers’ kind of game” and, while we may never see Fez 2 after Phil Fish’s departure from the gaming industry, we at least having this little gem of blissful brilliance.