Fez Review - Mind-melting puzzles meet retro platformers

by Stephen Heller Featured

7 Comments 19 Votes 2527 Views 08/05/2012 Back to Reviews

Mind-melting puzzles meet retro platformers.

Delays are a common occurrence in game development, but in the case of Fez it became part of the journey. Initially announced in 2007, Polytron were forced to push the game back until April this year, with the plight being part of the documentary Indie Game: The Movie. After such a long wait, this retro-inspired puzzle/platformer is here, but was it worth the wait?

What Fez Got Right

A wondrous world to explore - Fez opens up with this bright and cheerful world, filled with frolicking bunnies, leaping frogs and strange looking white blob artifact people that fills you with warm and fuzzy feelings. The premise is simple; players fill the shoes of Gomez who happens to stumble upon a mysterious known as the Hexahedron. Suddenly his 2D world has been transformed through the use of a magical Fez hat, allowing Gomez to rotate the entire universe into a 3D perspective. It is up to Gomez to discover all the missing pieces of the Hexahedron and save the world before his world is ripped apart. You know, that old chestnut.

While it may seem like Fez isn't strong on the storytelling, it actually reveals a rich and mysterious history thanks to the wondrous world that the player can explore. Each area feels distinctly different, and tells a different story through the surroundings, music and items to discover. It may be filled with sprites, but Fez harbours one of the deepest game worlds in recent memory.

Get the Adobe Flash Player to see this video.

Check out the official trailer!

Mind-blowing puzzles - The objective is seemingly simple in Fez; find and collect 32 cubes, which have been split into "bits" across the world. Players will need to collect 8 bits to make up a cube, and certain doors leading to new areas will only open up if you have collected enough cubes to gain entry. Finding these bits scattered throughout the game world is challenging enough; Gomez will need to run, jump and twist the world at his will to access some hard to reach places, which is a lot of fun. The level design on display in Fez is amazing, especially when you delve into the complexities of using the 3D environments to your advantage.

However it's the other moments in the game that are truly mind-blowing. Hidden throughout the game the developers have utilised a unqiue alphabet, along with numerical and movement codes that can only be cracked with certain artifacts which are picked up during your adventure. Add these features along with hidden treasure maps and another 32 anti-cubes (which are near impossible to find) to the mix, and you have an experience that is certain to melt your mind in the nicest possible way.

Amazing soundtrack - Chiptunes have been done to death thanks to this relentless influx of "retro" inspired games of late, but the Fez soundtrack is utterly divine. Disasterpiece has crafted a sonically astounding soundtrack that fits the unique world of Fez perfectly, and it even makes the transition into day-to-day life. Even if you aren't the type to purchase gaming soundtracks, chances are you'll be compelled to grab a copy of this gem.

Retro with a spin - I've mentioned a few times that sprite infused "retro" games are overdone, but in the case of Fez the art style is part of what makes the game so endearing. It's not retro because it was easier, or cheaper to do so, it really embraces the essence of retro games and adds its own spin to proceedings. Old school platforming meets a retro-inspired soundtrack with a spinning 3D mechanic to provide an old-meets-new experience.

What Fez Got Wrong

Performance issues - Considering that Fez is largely a sprite-based game, it's hard to understand why there are so many performance issues. At certain times the frame-rate stuttered to an unacceptable rate, despite the fact that there was nothing too intensive happening on the screen. Some users have been reporting system crashes, which happened to us three times during out 9 hours playtime with the game. Considering how great the gaming experience is, it was rather disappointing to have this happen more than once.

Confusing map system - Fez features a large game world with different areas. Each area has several rooms, and some of those rooms lead to other areas with other rooms. It doesn't take long to get lost, and trying to find out how to get back to an area you once visited is near impossible. The map system is perplexing at best, and it can create headaches as you progress through the game and want to return to a specific area to solve that puzzle you saw three hours ago.

The Final Verdict

Fez is one of those games that slowly gnaws away at your sanity, in a good way. The level design is simply mind blowing, particularly when you start delving into the hidden puzzles and codes that Polytron have hidden throughout the game world. The soundtrack is the best I've heard in years, and the sheer scope of this charming indie title is intense. Despite the confusing map system and some system performance issues, this is definitely a game you should add to your collection now.

By Stephen Heller - Bio

Check out these related topics....

Fez

Platform: Xbox
Developer: Polytron
Similar to: Super Paper Mario
 
Vote for this article Log in with Facebook

More Info on Fez

Fez Fez Fez Fez Fez Fez Fez
Game Profile: Fez
Fez Australian Release: Out Now

Fez Review - Mind-melting puzzles meet retro platformers Comments

Leave a comment Log in with Facebook
Buy it now. Everyone. [WTF]
Must remember to check this out.
You definitely won't regret it. I hope my review has inspired some of you to pick it up.
Wish I could play this still, looks amazing ^_^
You don't have a 360 @Jason ?

Heller said: You don't have a 360 @Jason ?



Nopeee, I am jealous!
Hopefully a PC version will be released....... one day :'(

Post a comment

Leave a comment Log in with Facebook
  • Fez
  • Fez
  • Fez
  • Fez
  • Fez
  • Fez
  • Fez
  • Fez
  • Fez
  • FezFez Video

Recently Read

Featured Xbox 360 Content

Most Anticipated April game

Most Anticipated April game

1 day ago Polls 3 5
Forza Horizon 2 Presents Fast & Furious review

Forza Horizon 2 Presents Fast & Furious review

Gryllis 3 hours Reviews 0 2
EB Expo 2015 exhibitors confirmed, tickets soon

EB Expo 2015 exhibitors confirmed, tickets soon

Gryllis 9 hours News 0 3
The original Xbox was almost given away for free

The original Xbox was almost given away for free

Tano 10 hours News 3 4
Advanced Warfare DLC - SHG talks Grappling in Australia

Advanced Warfare DLC - SHG talks Grappling in Australia

Gryllis 11 hours Articles 0 3
Games of April: GTA V PC, Mortal Kombat X

Games of April: GTA V PC, Mortal Kombat X

Tano 1 day Articles 9 3
Dragon Age: Inquisition Jaws of Hakkon hits PS4 in May
Jayden27 1 day News 1 4
EU tables plan to ban geo-blocking

EU tables plan to ban geo-blocking

Tano 2 days News 7 7
Letting children play GTA V is 'neglectful', claims UK school

Letting children play GTA V is 'neglectful', claims UK school

Tano 2 days News 6 8

Community Content

The Phantom Pain will be the last Metal Gear Solid

The Phantom Pain will be the last Metal Gear Solid

zurczner 05/03 News 5 5
Work Experience at The MMGN Office

Work Experience at The MMGN Office

12/01/2015 Blog 10 0

MMGN Updates

Status
Updating..
Username

leonqin1 bumped - Nintendo Wii (second hand) + a load of games

leonqin1 57 mins ago
Username

commented on Games of April: GTA V PC, Mortal Kombat X

SlappyWag 8 hours ago
Username

PsFan, Mickyt888 commented on Most Anticipated April game

PsFan 13 hours ago
Username

Zinker posted a news - Next Nintendo Direct announced

Zinker 19 hours ago
Username

commented on DuckTales: Remastered set for mobile rebirth

Zinker 22 hours ago
Username

commented on Halo Online gameplay footage revealed

Zinker 22 hours ago
Username

Zinker, CybaCowboy commented on The EU has the right idea when it comes to the silliness of geo-blocking

Zinker 22 hours ago
Username

Kazanagii, sjt333, Mik3y, maxiboy commented on Lykan Hypersport is the first of Project CARS' free monthly DLC

Kazanagii 1 day ago
Username

commented on TPG plans to buy iiNet for $1.4 billion

Cobra 1 day ago
Username

Sonofares just unlocked the Welcomed achievement!

Sonofares 1 day ago