Fez Reviews

  • BWchief117BWchief117233,735
    15 Apr 2012 19 Apr 2012
    34 1 5
    Fez is one of those must play games. It has it's own unique retro feel while drawing on past games (that weren't retro at the time). And the game is simple, no "powerups," very few timing puzzles ... it is a straight up platformer, with a twist...

    You start the game innocent enough in your 2D world, where everyone actively loves being two dimensional (and will tell you just that), but that soon changes as a mysterious cube shows up and "blows your mind." From here on, you can now rotate each level by 90 degrees, with each side being a standard 2D platformer, so it is ultimately up to the player to best figure out how to reach that ledge that is just out of reach, or that cube piece that seems too high to fathom, or the door to the next level, by changing perspective; and Fez shines in it's execution of this mechanic.

    Just when you think you have a level all figured out, you rotate the display one last time, and find two more doors to other levels. This explorations is what Fez is all about, and what will keep you playing for hours. The worlds you explore are always interesting, and if you are old enough to catch them, often you can see throwbacks to previous games. For example, every time you open a chest, you hear a melody strikingly similar to the one you'd hear in a Zelda game. These little throwbacks are everywhere, and Fez is all the better for it; every time I would open a chest, I would hear that tune and fondly remember my Ocarina of Time days, and that's just one example, Fez is littered with them.

    Because the game is so simple, there shouldn't ever be a time when you don't know what to do. Whenever a new mechanic is added, your cube companion will tell you exactly how it works (assuming you listen to him), and often these new mechanics draw directly on previous mechanics in creative ways.

    The game is also very forgiving. When you die, you're reset to the last safe platform you stood on. There is never any backtracking or redoing a level because you died midway through.

    Visually, Fez is very crisp. It has the retro feel down, and only when it wants to does it break that. I can only think of one level that I didn't like visually (anyone who 100% completes the game will know exactly which one), and that was intentionally done, so again, Fez is visually sublime as long as it wants to be. The game also mixes it up quite a bit. You start out in calm, marble white and tree green filled locations, but the farther you push the more the game mixes it up, from settings like pure retro green levels (like the old 8 inch floppy disk computer displays), to pink and blue Pac-Man style levels, to haunting, stormy cemeteries. The levels are so varied that you can walk from one to another the first time and have to pause just to experience the stark changes in scenery.

    The music is also great. There are levels where the music takes the drivers seat, and it's retro vibe will make you stop for a minute before finishing a level just to hear the music. Even in the most depressing/deathly of locals in the game, the music is fitting. Its hard to emphasis how well done the music is, but suffice to say, I am looking forward to downloading it soon.

    I do want to note that going into the game, it seems like a pure platformer, and for most people's first playthrough, that's pretty much what it will amount to, and again, it does shine in that aspect. But, after completing the game the first time, New Game + is unlocked, granting basically the only substantive "powerups" in the game, and turns the game on its head, essentially nullifying the platforming, and giving the game a whole new reason to be played, with an entirely new dynamic... but, only if you can put the pieces together.

    [Spoilers follow, and I recommend against reading this section until after your first playthrough]

    While FEZ may have some light puzzles during the first playthough, puzzles and decryption are essentially the entire endgame, and they are implemented so well that most players will only see them as an artistic part of the world until they grasp the depth of the system.

    To truly get the most out of the game, as I said I recommend playing though the first time clean, no internet influence about the game whatsoever (except maybe a review or two) to get a good grasp of the world and the platformer aspect. Then from the second playthrough on, I feel that some internet insight will make this secondary system appallingly obvious, and should make most players appreciate the true depth of the game. The game can be completed completely independent of the internet though (the QR codes can be bypassed, and all decryption tools necessary to solve the puzzles are in the game, though well hidden), so if you are up for a tough challenge, try deciphering the code on your own. Having just completed the final puzzle, I will say that I could not have done so without the internet, so suffice to say, it can be challenging, though this puzzle along with two others aren't necessary to 200/200 the game.

    [End spoilers]

    Once you truly understand the scope of this secondary system, you can realize how deep Polytron's vision for this game really was, and that made me personally love the game even more.

    Ultimately, Fez shines in every way and is a must play game this year. For 800MS points, it is a steal as well. I happily give this game a 5/5!
    Showing most recent comments. View all comments.
    BWchief117You're very welcome!
    Posted by BWchief117 On 20 Apr 12 at 15:14
    SpieludicaWhat is the level you didn't like? I completed the game but I can't really think of one... (stereoscopic vision?)
    Posted by Spieludica On 09 Oct 12 at 21:30
    BWchief117The one that was a combination of all the others. It was hard to look at, difficult to play for reasons other than player skill (platforms were hidden behind rapidly flashing things, etc.), and the music wasn't pleasant.
    Posted by BWchief117 On 25 Oct 12 at 00:04
  • KMetalmindKMetalmind200,561
    13 Apr 2012 13 Apr 2012
    42 14 17
    I´ll start this by saying just this: This game is a fucking masterpiece, and it´s easily one of the best XBLA games ever. It´s a completely awesome mix of platforming and puzzles (hard hard puzzles, not the kind of "puzzles" most games nowadays have). If you like both genres, this should be an instant-buy, although let´s go into some detail first:


    If you haven´t seen the graphics, check some screens, a trailer or just better: play the demo. They are gorgeus pixelated graphics, with care and detail in every room in the entire game. In fact, the entire game is done on 3D, and it has plenty of cool effects over it. It´s one of the best looking games with pixelated style.


    Again, the music is kind of classic, with melodies that are based on 4-8 bits ones, but they are really nice and they rarely get annoying. And even when the music is annoying, it´s intentional, it´s part of the game. It blends perfectly with the graphic and gameplay style, and I would go as far as to say that you will want to hear some of the tunes after leaving the game. It´s that good.


    Ans this is the brilliant part of the game. Controls are really simple: move left, right, jump, talk, use, turn world to the left, and turn world to the right. With just that, the game will throw at you levels and levels where you won´t know WTF must you do to get that collectible or get to that door. It´s so simple yet so complex, that is hard not to love it. You will get the basic controls down in a few minutes, but you will suffer nearly everytime you find a new room.

    The basic gimmick of the game is that everything plays 2D, yet you can twist the world in 3D, so unreachable platforms get closer, and you can get through paths that you wouldn´t be able to in either 2D or 3D. It´s a hard to explain effect, but you will learn it right away in the beginning. In fact, you will rarely get stuck by this gimmick alone. You can´t die in this game, so that really helps too.

    All the levels in the game form a huge labyrinth, with tons and tons of collectibles, alternative paths, etc. But don´t think this game is like a classic platformer, because it isn´t. You will have to EARN most of the collectibles. And no, that doesn´t mean you will need ability to get to that collectible: you will need to use your brain, and a lot. You will have to brainstorm at each puzzle and try and retry until you find the solution. In fact, the game shows you from the beginning a map to know exactly where are you everytime, and even more important: how many and what kind of collectibles have you left on any room you arrive to. So it´s not a matter of just finding the collectibles, it´s a matter of learning how to get them.

    I extremelly NOT RECOMMEND using a walkthrough, as you will get stucked in many places from just the beginning, but it feels so right everytime you solve one room. Think of this like Braid or Limbo, they aren´t that fun if you just look at the solution everytime, and if you look just once, you could spoil yourself similar puzzles, and you will get stuck in a few minutes again on the next one, as you have to learn to solve the puzzles.

    The game has 32 cubes, 32 anticubes, 4 artifacts, some treasure maps and keys for opening some doors. You can finish the game with just 32 cubes of any kind, so you will surely be able to get to the ending. Unlocking everything without using a guide it´s on an entire different level though. You can restart the game with the option New Game+, so you can keep getting everything after finishing the game. You´ll unlock a nice extra too, but I won´t spoil it...

    Personally I´ve just finished the game with just 32 cubes, so I have nearly half of the game to replay. I´ve played for more than 5 straight hours, so the game has a really nice length too. I would go as far as to say that I will enjoy replaying it. So it has a nice value for its price.


    So far they don´t seem to be that hard, as you just have to play the game. Getting everything on it seems to net 200/200, so even if the game can be really hard on many parts, if you are a completionist, you will get it sooner or later. No play with x lives achievement, no finish the game in x hours achievement... Just complete 100% of the game. There isn´t anything missable, so it´s just a fact of playing and solving everything until you unlock them all.


    Seriously, if you like platforming and puzzle games, BUY this game. It will blow your mind. It´s that good. I surely hope this game sells well enough, as this is a perfect example on how an XBLA game should be. And at 800 points, it´s just plain awesome.

    Feel free to ask anything on the comments if it isn´t commented on the review. I know I haven´t been too specific, but I don´t want to spoil anything of this superb game to anyone. toast
  • Removed Gamer
    Gamer has been removed
    17 1 0
    (for the all singing and dancing thumbACTIVE version... http://www.thumbactive.co.uk/?p=5181)

    Beside me is one of my trusty notebooks. Its recent pages scrawled with quadrilateral glyph sequences, cryptic quotes and numerical alphabets. No it isn’t the result of some mathematics lecture, but it is in fact notes of the riddles I’ve been attempting to decipher from playing Polytron’s 2007 announced 2012 released Fez. And here I was expecting a floating platform bounce around…

    There’s a lot more to this video game in what you’d first expect as a run and jump classic. To begin with though, it all starts with the very first playthrough.

    You are Gomez a cheery albino drummer who inhabits a ‘2D’ world. You join this plucky fellow on a very special day indeed. A day in which causes your 2D platforming instincts to take quite an unexpected four-sided turn. This is all due to an unintelligible floating golden cube gifting you with a fez hat. Yes the very same head garment worn by those creepy tambourine monkey toys!

    With this new ‘fez hat skill’ obtained the environment exploration plays similar to what Sideway: New York did recently with its side-scrolling perspective shifts. Essentially you’ll be platforming on four flat plains. The difference in being however is that you can flip your current level plain left or right to your heart’s content. And so, Fez’s puzzle valve for the first time loosens with this skewed approach to platform traversal. It won’t be long before you find this gameplay mechanic imprinting itself into your puzzle-solving noggin. Like the foot movements on a bustling dance floor; two twists right, chuck ‘da bomb’ then one twist to the left. Quite simply? It dances -ahem- plays wonderfully!

    As for style Fez is fully lathered within a pixelated shower. Water cascades from a blocky showerhead onto chiptune shampoo foaming round the lugholes, down to the four-edged body lotion smothering its sprite work skin. It’s a graphical and audio decision very much bowing in homage to the 8-bit era, and I’m right there bowing with it! From the Tetriminos (who doesn’t love Tetris!?) sparkling in the night sky’s constellations to The Legend of Zelda-ish chest opening motif it’s chock full of influences. It’s not all gamey though as I swear I spotted a playful fox sprite teasing its hound counterpart.

    Content wise the game spans out across an interconnecting cubic map labyrinth. At first it all seems rather daunting but warp pads and hidden shortcuts make light work of the inevitable backtracking. Each area has its own visual footprint. You’ll be bounding round seaside lighthouses, Game Boy themed sewers to even ‘broken’ trippy secret sections that are all neatly separated. Your main task is to seek out and collect cubes, treasure maps and keys that unlock the ever-expanding network that Gomez’s people live in. There is a classic video game quota to fill of course before the end credits will roll.

    And then there’s New Game +…

    After I wrapped up my three two hour sittings (yeah that’s right you do the math!) I decided to spring right back in knowing that I had plenty left to discover.

    As for platforming Fez is truly forgiving. With hardly any real hair ripping frustration to speak of and there lack of any real menacing foes to hinder where was the challenge dwelling? That’s when I started paying attention to the pixel art backgrounds, and that’s when I also realised this game isn’t exactly a platformer. The puzzle valve fully loosens.

    To be a true completionist of this 8-bit boggle there are rules to learn. Rules in which come in quantity and in an array of shapes and sizes. Yes Phil Fish and Renaud Bédard (the Polytron team) have interweaved an in-game language so deep that it actually trips you as a player back to when video games took years to beat! Code cracking, riddle solving, in-game cheating or collectable unlocking call it what you will. It’s been brought back, right back into fashion here. What at first glance looks like stylistic garble actually has its purpose. Even to find the pleasantly crafted day and night cycle play a part in the puzzle solving truly rewrites this game’s design. It’s a key within a key, within a key within er… a padlock?

    Now do you understand why I needed a notebook? This game requires more than just a controller alone, so pen and paper at the ready! I beg of you don’t retreat to the internet walkthrough safety rings before you even get your toes wet!

    Unfortunately for the joyously dreamy slush that Fez is it does come with its flaws. I’ve counted two palms worth of game breaking glitches that have spoiled my gaming momentum more than I would have liked. Entering doorways that have sent me back to the Xbox dashboard, getting stuck in a never-ending lava respawn to Gomez deciding to do nothing but just glide left. It has its fair share of bugs. Even the fame-rate suffers with its level transition loading stutters. Now I’m not sure if all of these were on purpose as granted the game does like to joke with its ‘game breaking’ moments. Nonetheless it’s a shame because they’re in there.

    From a first playthrough standpoint Fez in all offers a very relaxing 8-bit treasure hunt with an intriguing perspective rotation. As for consecutive playthroughs however, it presents an incredibly in-depth labyrinth of puzzle solving. If you’re someone who relishes in the hidden code cracking romance of yesteryear games this one’s latter alter ego will definitely appeal. If it was a quick platforming fix you were after you may just get a little more than you bargained for!

    Okay so it’s got its buggy hiccups but personally I love the fact that I still haven’t cracked everything Fez has to offer. I’m always going to shy away from the longevity sapping solutions of the internet, because now I have a complex little corker nestled in my XBLA collection that offers a decent year or so worth of an expiry date.
  • T3H B1VT3H B1V199,853
    15 Apr 2012 15 Apr 2012
    2 2 2
    Fez is a great platformer and a great puzzle game. The controls work well, the graphics are, simply put, beautiful, and the puzzles are interesting and use the "flip" mechanic (flipping your view of the level at 90-degree increments) in a lot of clever ways. The map and menus, while daunting at first, are useful and never too confusing. The game is a great bang-for-your-buck at 800msp, being that it will most likely take you 10-or-so hours to find everything (which you WILL want to do). Fez is a game that teaches you its rules without overbearing tutorials or too many annoying guide characters. The game definitely feels like an NES game that never was - however, despite how much I want to, I can't ignore a HUGE flaw in the game that a lot of people haven't been mentioning while discussing it. Finding the game's 32 "cubes" is great fun - all the puzzles are solved through normal gameplay using the "flip" mechanic - but the 32 hidden "anti-cubes" (which are necessary to 100% the game and get the real ending) are all hidden in less clever ways. Some are sort of cool - scan a QR code, it'll tell you a button combination to press which will reveal the anti-cube. Okay. But others step way too far "out there". You will have to try to crack the code behind very obscure symbols, wait ridiculous amounts of time for the game to shift between day and night, and do a lot of other strange things that feel archaic and out of place. Sure, the hidden symbols may sound cool, but after you've spent 30 aggravating minutes scribbling down symbols and trying to make sense out of weird glyphs composed of Tetris shapes, it's just unnecessary. To be honest, other than the QR code scans, I don't think I would have solved a single anti-cube puzzle without the internet. How was I supposed to figure out that I was supposed to turn my head to the left and seperate the symbol into the appropriate Tetris block shapes to make it into a code? Even if I had accomplished that, how was I then supposed to know that a left-facing "T" block represented that I had to press down on the analog stick? That a right-facing "Z" block represented a pull of the left trigger? I don't know how anyone has figured this out - and that's not to say that you can't. It's just frustrating that a game with an amazing puzzle mechanic felt the need to fall back on such difficult and archaic puzzles that don't take advantage of the gameplay at all. However, I do still enjoy Fez quite a bit, and recommend it to platformer fans or retro gamers. Just don't be surprised when the anti-cube puzzles have you scratching your head until you hop on the internet in search of an explanation.
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