Thursday, April 19, 2012

Fez: Impresions and Admirations

Fez was released on Xbox LIVE Arcade last Friday, after five years in development. It's a game that I have been watching very closely, with a great deal of anticipation, for much of that time (I first remember Fez being on my radar in 2009).

I'll start off by saying that if you don't know anything about Fez, check out this video for a brief introduction, and stop watching as soon as it's sold you on its concept. You definitely don't want anything about this game spoiled for you (and I will keep this post spolier-free, as well).

Fez has an absolutely beautiful retro look and as you can see from the video, the game gives the player the ability to shift their perspective of the world and view it from a different angle. Gomez, the main character of Fez, is described as a "2D creature living in a 3D world". The game typically plays like a traditional 2D platformer with running and jumping being Gomez's primary methods of traversing the game world. But even the platforming is not so simple, Gomez can grab onto ledges to hoist himself up onto them and he can scale some walls (keep an eye out for plant growth). This gives Gomez a ease of mobility that is greater than what is typically seen in the average platforming game.

As for the ability that the player has to rotate the view and see the level from a different perspective, well even that is not a simple as it first seems. You can check out this post by Fez programmer Renaud B├ędard about how the game is built out of trixels (warning: highly technical). Technicalities aside, what it comes down to is that when viewing the world of Fez, what you're seeing has no depth. Everything you see is, for all intents and purposes, side-by-side (even if, just a moment before things were far apart in another view). This concept makes the platforming sections all the more enjoyable and adds a minor puzzle-like element to the game.

Making the platforming interesting and thought provoking is very important to the game, as that is what the game is entirely about. There are no enemies in Fez, no weapons, no special abilities. Just Gomez, exploring a fantastically detailed and beautifully alive world.

I can honestly say that Fez is one of the most enjoyable and fulfilling gaming experiences I've ever had, and while I've "completed" the game (the main story)... I've only just begun to scratch the surface.

Because there comes a point when you truly understand what Fez is really all about.

I will not spoil anything here (which I could barely do, even if I wanted to, as I haven't even figured it all out yet), but there is an entirely new layer to the game that you eventually discover. Something that reminds me of gaming days long past. I have been gleefully playing Fez with a notebook and pen on my coffee table, writing down symbols, deciphering clues and (trying) to solve mysteries. There are some deep, well hidden secrets in Fez, and I am determined to find them, on my own.

I am willing to consult with friends and trade ideas with fellow gamers, but I am refraining from looking to the internet for any assistance. It's proving to be a tall order, seeing how the puzzles in Fez are some of the most devious I've ever encountered. If you liked the show Lost, and were caught up in the mysteries of the island as well as it's cryptic messages and numbers, then you'll love Fez. It's just like that. There's a lot of speculation and searching going on right now as I try to unravel these secrets.

In fact, I'd say that I'm having just as much talking about Fez's mysteries as I am playing the game itself. It really is quite brilliant!

Simply put, Fez is one of the greatest games I've ever played and has secured a place as one of my all-time favorites. I greatly respect and admire the talented individuals who created this great experience.

If you've got an Xbox 360, download Fez, right now.

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