Within the first 10 minutes of gameplay, a couple of things are clear – Firstly, Fez is both a sweet and charming nostalgia trip boasting many flashbacks from games of old. From the absolutely gorgeous pixel graphics reminding you of all of your favourite 90’s platformers to reading your first “Hey, listen!”, Fez will definitely bring a smile to every gamer though the older gamer’s smile may just be that tiny bit bigger. Secondly, Fez will make you forget everything you know about 2D platformers while you try to master its rotational mechanic.
The rotational mechanic is no simple gimmick, it’s grounded into every single aspect of Fez’s level design. It can make the door way which would normally just be part of the background a shortcut to whatever’s on the other side. It can uncover different routes and secrets to what you’d normally see as a dead end. Critically, this rotational mechanic stays fresh, exciting and almost just as head scratching as it does at the start and you will certainly not be bored of it by the end of Fez’s 6 or so hours story playthrough.
The goal of Fez is to collect 32 gold cubes, all of which have been broken down into smaller blocks. These blocks are hidden throughout the levels and using your dimension rotating skills, it’s your job to collect them. There are no enemies to speak of, no end of level of bosses waiting for to rotate to exploit their weakness and although death is possible, it’s not punished – With you simply appearing back to where you made your death leap \ rotation. However, boasting some truly mind bending puzzles it certainly would be wrong to call Fez easy. The frustration levels are kept under check by the unpunished deaths, catchy music and stand out graphics.
Fez does a lot of things right and truly looks and feels like a fantastic game, however there are a few niggles. The map can be confusing to navigate, which may put you off revisting certain errors after the story is completed to uncover every secret, which is a shame. Some form of fast travel to areas you’ve previously visited would have done a lot to help this and made navigating the huge open world a lot easier. Also, the controls aren’t quite as precise as other star platformers such as SMB and SMB, making it occasionally difficult to approach an edge without falling off it.
However those minor gripes aside, Fez is still a masterclass in game design and a superb platformer. At only 800 points on the Xbox live arcade, it represents true value for money with every one of those points well spent. Filled with secrets, clever homages and genius forth wall breaking moments, Fez is a game that will stick with you. Fez will blow your mind, but in the best possible way.
- Inspired game design, with a fantastic central gameplay mechanic.
- Absolutely drop dead gorgeous pixel graphics.
- Brilliant soundtrack.
- Genius forth wall breaking moments.
- Huge open world with no simple fast travel.
- Controls not as precise as they could be.