Unleashing the Fez


It’s been a while since I did a proper retro themed blog post, but there has been no better way of making a bit of a come back by highlighting a particular game which has blown me away this weekend and one that i’d like to share with you.

Screenshot of Fez

The game is called ‘Fez’ and has been released recently on the Xbox 360 via its Live service after around 5 years in development. I had originally wanted to buy some points this weekend to finally get round to purchasing Pacman DX and also possibly the long anticipated Trials Evolution. However, whilst trying out Trials – I came across the adverts for Fez and its NES styled graphics, and was drawn in to give it a go. I’m not going to try and give a full review, as i’m only a small way through so far – but hopefully there is enough here to pique your interest..

To give a bit of dialogue – you control a small cute white character called Gomez, who starts off by living within a 2D world, where everything is square and flat. After being summoned to the top of your home town by one of your relatives who has something to share with you. A 3rd dimension is revealed for the first time via the arrival of a strange golden cube which in turn gives you the power to rotate your world in 90 degree turns, revealing hidden platforms and parts which you would not normally see.

There is some really nice visual trickery going on in the game, giving a clever game play mechanic (like the rewind feature in Braid). Basically, everything is kept at the same distance, even when rotated – so platforms previously at a long distance (too far to jump between) can be made closer by rotating the viewpoint, which allows you to jump between them. It’s slightly hard and odd to explain, though the video below gives a good overview of what i’m getting at.

Your main aim is to collect all the golden cubes across various areas to save your world from total destruction. This you get to see as you progress through the game with the appearance of black holes in the game map. Blocking your path are a number of well created puzzles as well, most of which are solved using your rotational feature – but also via props such as bombs and weights. The game plays like a typical NES platformer – but of course with the added 3D rotational aspect and various effects which would have been almost impossible back in the day and on the 8-bit hardware.

It has some similarities with Braid, but also with Paper Mario and also strangely with Nebulus due to the rotational 3D. The exploration aspect of the game has been a lot of fun so far, and some of the puzzles are very very clever. Just as I really start making progress in the game – things are starting to get pretty tough and there seems to be plenty of hidden messages and codes to crack throughout as well (including some references to Tetris which I need to go back to).

In recent times I have kind of felt a bit hollow inside when playing particular new releases, but with Fez I had that same warm fuzzy feeling like I did when I first played Braid back in 2007/8 and knew I was playing something special.
I was even surprised that Trials Evolution did not grab me anywhere near as much, and as a result I parted with 800 points on Fez instead.

Everything from the NES-like pixilated visuals with its added 3D visuals, the ingenious and fun puzzles, to the superb chip-tune’esq music throughout (which at times seems like a set of modern day Martin Galway tunes) makes this a superb purchase for as little as 800 points. Many hours are going to be worthily “wasted” on this game and for me so far is my game of the year!

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