Sunday, April 15, 2012


Ha, a tie for my shortest blog post title! Words are so much fun.

(Please note that this review will contain spoilers for the ending of Fez. I'll give another warning later when I hit the spoilers.)

Fez, that long-awaited perspective-based puzzle platformer, has finally hit XBLA for 800MSP ($10). You play as Gomez, a man who lives in a flat world with lots of squares until plotline plotline plotline and suddenly everything has depth. By rotating the world 90 degrees at a time, you can line up platforms to reach new places and collect cube fragments to unlock new worlds.

On the whole, it's an interesting mechanic, but it's not new. Or at least, it's not new anymore. Fez was first announced in 2007, and in the years that have passed, other games have come along that used the same rotating-perspective gameplay (I reviewed one for JIG here). When I heard that Fez was finally going to be released, I reacted with cautious joy, since I knew this game had to be absolutely amazing in order to live up to all the hype it received over the years. I started to play the game, and it already felt like the magic of this wonderful new mechanic was already gone.

Normally, a game like this would already be dead in the water for me, but despite the puzzle of jumping from one platform to another then rotating and doing it all over again having no novelty, I found a puzzle simply in the navigation system of the game. Each section of the world is connected via doorways in a larger three-dimensional meta-map, which baffled me at first. Lines seemed to connect one place to another like a flowchart made of a bowl of spaghetti. Somehow, the game around the mechanic, rather than the mechanic in the game, was more entertaining to me than anything else. Where solving ways to get from point A to point B was no longer interesting, navigating my way across the world was more fascinating to me.

NOTE: SPOILERS START HERE. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of stumbling on the end of the game a bit too quickly. It's safe to say that in collecting only half of the total number of cubes available in the game, what I was was the "bad ending." If ever a bad ending was to be had though, this was probably the least logical and trippiest bad ending I've ever seen. Rather than the game saying "Yay, you did it, but you didn't do enough! Go back and do some more," the ending consisted of a bizarre dance of geometric figures like a horrible old screen saver. I'm still not even sure I found the bad ending. It might've been the good ending. Or perhaps the only ending. I'm not comfortable with that.

What's probably more irritating is that in completing the game, my progress appears to have been erased. Or at the very least, I no longer have a "continue game" option on the main menu, but I now have a "start new game+" option. I've stepped away from the console for the night, but I can't help but feel that this probably means that all the hard work and exploring I did have been wiped out needlessly. (Watch this space for an edit, I'll see if I was right tomorrow.) Certainly a better ending could be ascertained by replaying the game to full completion, but I'm not sure I could be convinced to redo everything I've done before once again. SPOILERS END HERE.

My experience with Fez, though limited, has been very bipolar. First I was underwhelmed, then I was enthralled, then I was let down again. I really don't want to chalk up a third mostly-negative review in a row, but there's something about Fez, be it something in its story (or potential lack thereof), or its now-less-than-novel mechanics, or something that makes the game oddly irritating. I stress however that your mileage may vary, and encourage you to play through the demo at the very least. Please don't just go by my sleepy, jaded opinion on this one; experience the game for yourself and come to your own conclusions.


Anonymous said...

New Game+ allows you to access a new game mechanic. Said mechanic allows you to obtain access to new places and to go back and collect all the cubes you missed.
The game starts you out pretty much where you left off, with the exception of starting in your home town again. All previously gotten cubes and such are saved and carried over to the new game.

Your experience with FEZ is only half done!


Anonymous said...

Shortly after I posted this, I found your follow-up review.
Nevermind. Haha