First Impressions Review: FEZ

By Hedge

Fez by Polytron

After about six hundred years of waiting, mind-bending puzzle platformer Fez has finally been released on Xbox Live Arcade. I spent a brief time with it over the weekend, enough to get a feel for the game, as well as a slight headache and an overwhelming sense of confusion.

Fez is a game about a squidgy little pale guy named Gomez. Gomez lives in a village of 2D bliss, with his fellow squidgy little pale guys and gals. One day, after a meeting with one of the townsfolk – and older man with a dashing eyepatch – Gomez is transported to another realm, and given a magical Fez with the gift of three-dimensions; the ability to shift the world around the z axis to present a whole new, three-dimensional view on this thoroughly two-dimensional world.

This is Fez‘ basic gameplay premise; it’s a 2D platformer played in a 3D space. The player can shift the world back and forth with the L and R triggers, and by moving the world create whole new paths and ways to explore. What was once two separate platforms become one from a new perspective. Can’t find a way up? Shift the world 180 degrees and discover a door, or a wall of vines to climb. There are puzzles, hidden secrets and a vast, gorgeously drawn world to explore. And I mean vast – considering the price, and that this is an XBLA download, the world is impressive, with multiple paths and dozens of interconnected maps, each with their own fork in the world-tree.

The addition of Dot, Gomez’ friendly, tesseract-like assistant is a pleasant one. Dot helps the player by showing them what is on the other side of doors, providing gameplay hints and furthering the plot by way of some truly amusing dialogues. Most of his explanations boil down to ‘because, that’s why’ but this doesn’t hurt the game at all and in fact only strengthens the charming, off-beat nature of the title.

I’m not very far into Fez. I played for a few hours on the weekend but it was enough to know that this game is going to quickly become one of my favourite titles. It’s smart, it’s original, it’s gorgeous and most of all it’s fun – incredibly difficult at times, but never unpleasant.

I couldn’t recommend this game more highly. It’s available now on Xbox Live Arcade.

You can harass the author of this post via Twitter: @CAricHanley