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Xbox 360
Genre: Platform
Developer: Polytron Official Site: http://polytroncorporation.c...
Release Date:
13th April 2012

Genre: Platform
Developer: Polytron
Official Site: http://polytroncorpor...
Release Date:
13th April 2012
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Fez Review
Review By @ 03:49pm 24/04/12
Fez is fantastic. The hype is justified, and the rave reviews are all true. If you have held off on buying this platform puzzle game because you suspect that it is just another load of over-rated indie wank, then fear not. For while Fez is indeed very, very strange, it's also one of those rare games with the power to totally capture your imagination.

You control Gomez, a little dough-boy pixel person who has lived his entire life in a retro-looking 2D video game village – a cluster of cubes floating in a chunky sky. Our hero soon receives The Call to Adventure, and learns some terrible secrets into the bargain: That his world actually exists in three dimensions, not two, and that an ever-growing plague of dark matter threatens to destroy all of reality. As Gomez, you must save the universe by collecting a set of golden cube fragments that have been scattered across 150 or so brain-breaking levels.

So far, so standard. But Fez has a gimmick: Every level is assembled from blocky structures suspended in 3D space, yet you view them face-on, and move strictly via 2D platform-jumping conventions. Tapping either bumper button will rotate the level 90 degrees to the left or right, each move creating radical shifts in the landscape. Two platforms may at first appear to be separated by a yawning chasm, but a single swing of the camera could be all it takes to make them hopping distance apart. As in the cult PSP game Echochrome, reality is perception, and perception is subjective. The challenge is to use these sneaky optical illusions to your advantage.

Most levels are suspended over bottomless pits, so it's lucky for us that Gomez is effectively immortal. Should he fall to his doom or get sucked into a black hole, he'll simply flash, rewind, and re-spawn at a safe place just before you cocked up. There are no enemies to worry about, either. The closest thing to an antagonist is the games creator, Phil Fish, who has riddled his freaky game world with cryptic codes and puzzles.

The tough platform-jumping challenges contrast starkly with the visuals – the repetitive patterns and pleasing colours appear to have been chosen to release optimum levels of dopamine in the player's brain. A wry sense of humour is evident; Gomez is no Gears of War DudeBro, and struggles to haul himself up over platform ledges thanks to his copious rolls of digital flab. When moving through the doorways that link zones his bulk shifts ponderously, as though his very fat cells were daydreaming.

The game world itself seems blissfully unaware of its impending doom. Birds emit digital chirps while resting atop cubic bonsai shrubs, and the realms surrounding Gomez's village are mostly run-down temples, sleepy forests, and graveyards. It's beautiful, yet desolate. Fez doesn't deliver a story so much as a mellow, captivating experience. A vibe. Above all, it's this incredible sense of atmosphere that makes Fez so special. The haunting music, warped physics, and dizzying array of puzzle challenges conspire to suck you in. It's a digital 'Rarebit Fiend' – the kind of dream you have after eating loads of cheese right before going to bed.

Fez is engrossing, but it is not perfect. The puzzles are quite difficult, and more vexing still is the map screen, and the obtuse way the game world has been slotted together. No doubt after five or so years weaving the labyrinthine maps of the Fez multiverse, Phil Fish has an instinctive grasp of precisely where all the games warp gates will take you. A newcomer greeted by a 3D lattice of cryptically annotated cubes my find things a tad heavier going.

There have also been widespread reports of the game failing to work on early model Xbox 360s. If you own an older system that has so far miraculously failed to explode, now might be a good time to splash out on an upgrade. But quibbles aside, Fez is brilliant.
What we liked
  • Enthralling atmosphere, captivating music
  • Vast and varied game world
  • Challenging puzzles
  • Warped sense of humour
What we didn't like
  • Navigation can be a pain
  • Many puzzles are unfathomably difficult
We gave it:
Latest Comments
Posted 04:06pm 24/4/12
i want this game on PC. i also want trials evolution on PC.
Posted 09:44pm 25/4/12
Teah Fez is nothing if not very strange, but just like people the strange ones are often the most intetesting.

Somehow they've managed to make it 2.5D which you have to play with the rotation to appreciate.

The world map reminds me of a networks visualiser info design archetype of 2007, which is cool to see used as a game element.

The game itself is just bragging rights for how good they are at pixels graphic animations.

Having read a bit of the back story from the developer gives an appretiation of the number of (probably) soul crushing hours of meticulous attention to detail put in to get it to where it is.

If you liked Super Meat Boy for it's retro style, Fez will keep you geeking for hours.

I did find the story somewhat non linear and found myself leading Gomez into time ripples and 0.0 space more often than finding an obvious direction in the game.

There are no guidance or structural detail in story direction as you would expect from games like WoW or Fable, and the bits & pieces of chatter that you get from npc's are helpful, but don't really add much to the narrative of the game.

It's a great indie game, it's a good thing they don't bake these gems out to PC builds straight away, gives the console more sales carrot.

Posted 09:48pm 25/4/12
The only thing i'd want to own a 360 for is these games that are always coming out that PC never gets. Shame.
Posted 10:27am 26/4/12
Blame DRM
Posted 10:46am 26/4/12
Pretty sure this will at least come to PC, most Microsoft XBLA exclusives eventually turn up on Steam or something similar.

Which is a good thing cos this game is f*****g awesome.
Posted 12:30pm 26/4/12
The only thing i'd want to own a 360 for is these games that are always coming out that PC never gets. Shame.

Same. Was raging that limbo wasnt on PC but it finally arrived. Hope this does too. And that wierd tower climbing game that was featured on good game - catherine. Category of "puzzle-platformer survival horror adventure game", awesome.
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