“Today is special day.”
It’s a bittersweet thing when you learn about something great through something tragic. In my case, I learned about the wonder that is the indie video game known as Fez because of the controversy dealt to its creator, Phil Fish, whose online disputes with critics led to him leaving the gaming industry and canceling production on Fez 2.
As I said: it’s a sad thing that happened with Mr. Fish, but in a roundabout way, it made me all the most interested to see what his game was like.
Fez is a retro puzzle platformer, set in a 2D environment with older graphics and a classic MIDI soundtrack. You play as Gomez, a tiny white dude who receives a fez and is exposed to a magical twist: his 2D world is actually three-dimensional. With your controls, you can twist around your platforms to create new perspectives and find hidden paths to your goal, which is to collect 32 golden cubes, each of which has been broken up into eight shards per level.
There really isn’t a plot to this game, not that you’d need one. Gomez wakes up, learns about the deeper reality, and then it’s off to collect shiny cube bits in order to save the world.
The perspective change is a wonderful mechanic. I’d say it’s on par with the Portal Gun from Valve’s Portal games at being very clever and very entertaining. And combined with the appealing retro graphics and MIDI soundtrack, the game has a very relaxing atmosphere. Even missing a jump and falling to your death is just a slap on the wrist; Gomez immediately respawns where you left off without any fanfare. I also like how the game has several homages to other, older games like The Legend of Zelda and Tetris.
There really isn’t much else to say. Fez is one of those enjoyable games you have to experience for yourself. While I can understand why some gamers might criticize the puzzle platformer, I don’t think some of their invective was warranted. It’s a shame that Mr. Fish and Fez 2 are no longer participating in future games, but I still cherish this game for all it’s worth.
Bibliography: Fez (video game). Created by Phil Fish. Developed by Polytron Corporation. Published by Microsoft Studios, Trapdoor, and Polytron. Original release date: April 13, 2013.