It’s not often that a game excites me both as a player and a games designer quite as much as Fez has. Plenty of games have excited me as one or the other but Fez just has something else.
Fez is a two-dimensional game, but by rotating the game world through 90° it’s secrets are revealed. Suddenly a gaping chasm becomes a short hop or a floating island will appear at the edge of the screen which had previously been hidden.
It’s the sense of exploration that is one of Fez’s key strengths. Hidden doors become visible as you are navigating the world to reach a door you noticed earlier. Suddenly you’re drawn to this new door and it’s these constant lures that keep you playing long after you should really have gone to bed.
The puzzles in Fez could have been about perfect jumps or executing split second perspective shifts but instead they are almost relaxing. There are no enemies, no ominous timers or even any sort of health or lives system. If you do happen to fall to your doom you’ll return to the last safe platform, which is normally the one you just jumped from. And when you do encounter a particularly tough puzzle in Fez, you have the time to sit back with a pen and paper and work it out logically.
Oh, and this doesn’t even include the brilliant fourth-wall busting puzzles that had me sat open-mouthed at their brilliance. Just when you think you’ve seen everything the game has to offer, something will happen that blows you away and these are the parts that get me really excited as a designer. While Fez takes a lot of inspiration from older games, I also think it will give inspiration to future games and games designers.
While Fez is a nostalgic trip to the 8 and 16-bit era of gaming, Polytron haven’t hung on to out-dated systems and the game is all the better for it.
I can’t recommend Fez highly enough. So far it is the stand-out game of 2012 for me, and it’s going to take something very special to topple it from it’s perch.
If you own an Xbox 360, you need to buy Fez now.