Oh time for a rare game review here, as I struggle to find enough things to blog about every day… Actually I finished this several weeks ago but hadn’t quite got around to this review, but since it’s one of those massively hyped indie games, I thought I should make the effort.
I mean I’ve been here before, Braid was another similarly-hyped game, and while the time-reversal mechanic of the game was certainly intriguing and used well, that was sort of all there was to it (apart from it being really hard). While Fez certainly tried harder to innovate outside the 3D/2D projection angle, with lots of lateral-thinking puzzles, at its heart it does seem rather pleased with itself and at times disappears up its own arse.
So you control Gomez, a funny-looking white blob man (because everyone doesn’t fit into SOCIETY’S perfect template of BEAUTY). He has the power to rotate his otherwise 2D world in increments of 90 degrees in a 3D world, though all the time still working by his 2D mechanics. So platforms that line up in the player’s line of sight are connected, even if one is further away. Maybe it’s best to see the clip at the bottom, it’s tricky to articulate. So that’s the main hook for this game, and it’s a good one, intuitive to pick up, but not always simple to solve.
The fact that he gets this power from a titular magic fez (lol, random…) and gets ‘helped’ by an unhelpful 4th-wall-breaking flying cube thing (lolzorz, random) gives me that satisfying slimy feeling of a big eye-roll at such an irritatingly hipster feel to the game. In fact at times this feeling threatens to undermine the whole experience for me (particularly the wanky ending), so I try to ignore it. The premise that you have to collect all these cubes and cube-bits from solving puzzles just because the universe will end otherwise gives the impression that the creator is dying for this to be an indie-game fan favourite, but just bugs me.
The puzzles themselves are numerous and tricky. Some go a little TOO far (the clock one, the lava one…), but the majority are satisfying to solve and pleasant to play, thanks to the gorgeous backdrops (are people ever going to get tired of 8-bit retro pastiche?) and mellow soundtrack. The visuals certainly have a strong identity, even if the characterisation and writing didn’t do it for me.
Some of the puzzles make great use of the available resources, such as QR codes (download an app before you start, is my advice), and even the vibrating control pad (I was very pleased with myself for getting that one quickly). Much codebreaking is needed too unless you fancy delving into the already busy walkthrough scene for this game.
Generally I was very impressed with the imagination used, and it was a worthy diversion for the 8-ish hours I played it to 100% completion (with help). I think the biggest issue with the game for me was really the sort of thing that should be helping it – I felt it was all a bit too pleased with itself, and particular the endings were unsatifying and frustrating. Things like that really broke the spell of a game that could realy have been quite magic. Still worth a purchase anyway.