I have to do something as a video game reviewer I hate doing. I’m ashamed to admit it, but I have to do something I’ve never had to do. I have to sit down and write this review having not finished the game I’ve been given the responsibility to review. Don’t get the impression I’m not qualified to write a review for Fez because I’ve been slacking off and never got around to playing the game as much as I would like too. Quite the opposite. I’ve poured countless hours into this one of a kind, dare I say revolutionary, 2-D/3-D 8-bit gem of a game. Actually, I would go as far as to say if you have read other Fez reviews, whomever wrote it didn’t finish the game either, and not because they didn’t put the effort in, but because the game is insanely challenging. I haven’t played a game in quite some time that made me want to throw my controller straight through my television. The only difference is, I keep going back to Fez for more to try and figure out its secrets. The game is that good.
Sure people will get attached instantly to the 8-bit presentation of Fez. But that becomes second nature within minutes of playing. The premise is a simple one. You play the role of a strange looking creature named Gomez. Gomez lives in a simple world. A 2-D world where things seem all peaches and cream. Even just walking around talking to random fellow citizens will offer up silly one liners that will give you a laugh. However, this is a game, and within a game there needs to be a problem. That’s where a strange humongous cube shows up and explodes, sending Gomez’s world into chaos. The blast has turned your world 3-D and your mission is to go to the depths of the universe to find random bits of the cube, assemble them back together, and make everything right with your world again.
Never before has a game took a simple premise or story and turned it on its head. Once Gomez is tapped as the one who must “bring balance to the force” he goes beyond the boundaries of the world he knows for the first time. He now sees things in 3-D. For you, this means a simple click of a right or left trigger turns whichever level your on 90 degrees to the left or right. That simple gesture can make all the difference on progressing through a level. A jump that looked too far away to complete can become much easier by a simple turn of the world, or climbing higher or lower to reach a new door. And if there is one thing Fez has plenty off, its doors. There probably hasn’t been this many doors in a game since the original Resident Evil.
This is where the game becomes all engrossing while at the same time being extremely frustrating. Each door you walk into will bring you to either a simple four walled room (which you still need to rotate. Lots of hidden features in these small rooms) or to a whole new level. It becomes very tempting to walk into a new door and begin exploring a whole new level and forget which door you came from. Before you forget you’re going through another door and now you’re even further away from your original spot. Because each world slightly resemble each other, it’s tough to know if you have already been to a world or not and getting back proves to be a chore all itself. There are websites dedicated to players crib sheets of the game. Actual web pages of what people wrote or scribbled down so they don’t get lost in this huge world. Some might find all this not worth the time and effort. Others (like me) find it incredible. People are going to pull hair, teeth or whatever they can get their hands on trying to figure out the world of Fez. That’s just fine with me.
Fez challenges you to a level never before seen in a game. If you’re not ready for the task then don’t even bother starting. You cannot just walk into this game thinking you are going to run through it while not having to unlock the many mysteries the game has to offer. The main quest (finding those cube pieces) never goes away. Each level you discover will have a few pieces scattered about, but you’re forced to play the game in an uncomfortable manor. Which means you will have to write things down and even possibly get off your chair, couch or whatever gaming recliner you happen to be in. Yes, the game is that interactive and I’m not about to start the spoil machine for you. Finding and trying to figure out these secrets is half the fun. But don’t think they are easy.
Be prepared to spend an extended amount of time on a certain puzzle, not figure it out and just have to shut down your console to cool down (yourself and the console). You’ll be back however, and you still won’t be able to solve the problems. If you need assistance (and you will) do a Google search for all things Fez. There are sites going up by the day and with them people finding some new nugget that hasn’t been found before. On numerous occasions I’ve come across a puzzle or artifact that you know needs to be solved. I just had absolutely no clue what to do! Good luck!
Fez never holds your hand. It doesn’t tell you where to go and other than finding the cube pieces it doesn’t tell you what to do. You learn as you go. There’s nothing to kill and there’s nothing to kill you, except for yourself if you miss a jump or ledge and fall to your demise, but you re-spawn almost instantly so you never actually feel like you lost a life like you would in a game like Zelda, oh and black holes. Because the game is so difficult, everything you find feels like an accomplishment. From everything to a new world, to a new door and obviously those cube pieces. Fez proves games can be extremely challenging and gratifying at the same time. It’s the perfect change of pace game I’ve been looking for. I’m always looking for that game that gets me away from whatever hot shooter is out there on the market. Fez nails it! It’s made me play a game in a way I’ve never played before, and even though it makes me uncomfortable and frustrated at times, it’s something that not many video games offer today. A more than welcome change.