There comes a time every year when you get to play a game that refreshes the player’s experience & relationship on a more profound level than before. Those games take the industry into another position because they do something no one has done. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Sometimes you can recycle basic elements from designs & apply them to your idea in an innovative way. Fez does just that & more. Developed by Phil Fish from Polytron, the player takes the role of a young boy named Gomez who comes to the revelation that his whole world is not how he perceived it to be.
You play as a young boy named Gomez, who lives in a 2 dimensional world. He awakens one day to watch a giant golden hexahedron break & tear the dimensional fabric. Upon witnessing, he is given a small red fez that permits him the ability to switch 90 degrees, left or right, & enables the player to observe the world in 3 dimensions.
Once the player is able to switch perspectives, the game builds upon problem solving by revolving around a 2D world consisting of the four sides of a cube, each at 90 degrees left or right, revealing four 2D views in a 3D space. The environments interact with each view when the level rotates. It can cause platforms to appear, hidden pathways to open & secret areas to interact with. Although the game revolves around this design, it works well for the majority of time but the map – regardless if it’s interesting, can be complicated for some Fish described the game to be a ‘stop & smell the flowers’ type of game. It’s not supposed to stress you out, its trying to invite you into its charming, cheerful & elaborately deep level design. You’re never punished for your mistakes, there are no enemies to fight & if you die, you quickly respawn.
It emphasizes puzzle-solving in a whole new perspective (literally) & requires more patience than platforming dexterity. It gets complicated actually. Most of everything you do is based on discovery. Progression reveals to the player relics from an ancient civilization that tried to comprehend their existence & the dimensions they live in. The player will come across pixelated hieroglyphics, hidden warp gates, quick response codes, obelisks & an entire decipherable alphabet that consists of Tetris tetrominoes symbols. Obviously, to understand the game completely & to uncover many of the hidden secrets, YOU, the player need to become more involved with Gomez’s universe & associate yourself with the games language to clear puzzles; however, the player is given the choice to¬ solve or ignore the obstacles.
The game features a vibrant & organic pixelated art style with sounds & influence from the 8-bit era of the Nintendo Entertainment System. The skyline switches from dusk to dawn, animals & insects inhabit areas but the movements for each variable within the compositions just look fantastic. Details like the shades between the trees & the gleam of light that flickers between them are just one of the many detailed aspects of the games presentation. The score has an 80’s vibe (retro bit feel with synths) that emits at times a very tranquil atmospheric feel that can sooth the player while other times it has a melancholy sensation that lingers echoes for the exotic environments which range from libraries, forests, graveyards, sewers, mines, lighthouses, suburban alleyways etc.
Even after completing the game once, the second play through proves to be more difficult & allows Gomez to see the world in first person to complete unsolved puzzles that usually deal with code breaking. Apart from collecting all the pieces from the golden hexahedron, you can find hidden artifacts, anti-cubes, treasure chests & other mysterious areas that add more replay value. If you’re looking to have a passive, nostalgic sense of the 8-bit circa with a modern twist & an intricate design to refreshen your game time, Fez is one you’re not gonna wanna miss out on.