FEZ Review

FEZ is a charmingly adorable puzzle platformer. You’re in control of a character named Gomez living in a two dimensional world when one day he is given a peculiar hat from an entity called the Hexahedron that grants him the ability to see the third dimension by rotating the screen in 90 degree sections. The Hexahedron suddenly breaks into pieces which causes the surrounding world to glitch. As the protagonist of the story, you venture forth to collect golden cube shards  which you need to open doors and eventually piece together the fractured Hexahedron. In addition, if you’re super skilled you have the opportunity to solve tricky puzzles to obtain the cooler-looking anti-cubes. This simple premise leaves a lot of room for exploration as you take the time to traverse different areas with a seemingly endless number of rooms. This game is particularly impressive with its visuals as every collection of rooms has a unique theme to go with the quirky characters you meet.

As well, you are accompanied by a (more) useless version of Navi named Dot that provides you with basic info on how to use various items in the game, such as how to pick up bombs or move the handle on time stopper machines. Ultimately, the game relies entirely on you and your wits to get you through the puzzles that lie ahead. At times I feel as though they could have given a little more direction than “uh? I wonder what this means…” making this a game that certainly refuses to baby you through each room. You’ll have to do a ton of climbing up vines and experimenting with the 3D angles to get where you need to go.

 

While this game is light-hearted and you start off breezing through the first few rooms, this game gets surprisingly challenging to the point of my needing to reference a walkthrough to get past some of the puzzles. Usually this is in pursuit of the not as easily acquired anti cubes which can have you spending hours on a single room, looking frantically through your maps and artifacts and the hidden language that is seen everywhere in the world of FEZ.

On one hand this game presents itself as a puzzle game, and invites people to think critically and act intelligently through the various puzzles that are presented in the game but ultimately I found that it was simply a system of trial and error so that I was able to stumble upon many of the solutions. Actually being able to get a puzzle on your own was substantially rewarding and even when puzzles had me stumped for hours, I was still motivated to pick it up and continue working on it the next day.

This game is intended to be played at your own leisure, it invites you to explore, to look into all the little crevices of this spider web of a map and take pleasure in all the diverse areas it has to offer. In situations where you feel desperate about not being able to solve a puzzle, you have the opportunity to leave it alone and continue exploring different areas, trying out new puzzles or returning to old ones in the order you see fit. It is for this reason I encourage you to avoid using a walkthrough for as long as you can as this game really encourages a sense of adventure and exploration that would simply be spoiled by use of a walkthrough.

I really enjoyed the dynamic feel of every area the game had to offer; day would change to night so that I was never bored with the visuals of any particular room. As a person who frequently probes walkthroughs for games, I found FEZ to be refreshing in encouraging you to think for yourself and put in the time to eventually solve the puzzles on your own. The game puts you through a journey, but one that is never too demanding of you, what keeps you going is curiosity of where the game will take you and I think this is a sign of a truly great game. This game will keep you thoroughly involved with its visuals, its puzzles and intrigue for all that that lies ahead.

-Minasuke

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