April 17, 2012

It’s a Matter of Perspective

Lasting First Impressions of FEZ from Polytron Corporation

FEZ BoxartThe moment the title screen materialized accompanied by a haunting Vangelis-style chiptune theme, I knew that FEZ was something special. The logo, itself an optical illusion, foreshadows the brilliant gameplay ahead. FEZ is a 16-bit style 2D puzzle platform adventure with a twist, literally.

The game begins as you take control of the youthfully exuberant Gomez, a two dimensional character living in a two dimensional world, waking up in his bedroom (extra points for his sick drum kit). In a style sure to be appreciated by fans of the fourth wall breaking quirks of Eternal Darkness or the Metal Gear Solid series, Gomez is soon imbued with his titular headpiece and the unique power to rotate the world around him in 90 degree increments on its vertical axis, thus changing his perspective on the world, and is then sent off to begin his adventure anew. This perspective-altering mechanic allows for abundant gameplay possibilities, from uncovering previously concealed details and treasures to solving Escher-inspired environmental puzzles involving bringing together two seemingly distant points for otherwise impossible traversal. While we may have sampled a similar ingredient in titles such as Crush, Echochrome or Super Paper Mario, none can compare to the tasty implementation here. The lack of any sort of combat makes the entire experience relaxing and almost Zen-like and the enthusiastic way in which Gomez rejoices with each new discovery and accomplishment makes me smile each and every time.

FEZ Screen

The controls are tight and simple and permit the player to focus on exploration and puzzle solving in multiple dimensions while seeking out cube shards and other treasures. Composer Rich Vreeland (aka Disasterpeace) has blended classic 8-bit tones with modern audio effects to deliver a delightful soundtrack worthy of enjoyment outside of the game. Game sounds are satisfyingly retro and evoke memories of hours spent on early home consoles. Visually, the game truly is a sight to behold; old school pixels have been met with a splash of modern trappings to create a whimsical feast for the eyes, popping with colour and style. The in-game map system takes a little getting used to at first, but with regular use it will become an invaluable aide to navigating the complex network of open-world levels.

FEZ Screen 2

The game is not entirely flawless, as developer Polytron is hard at work stomping out a number of reported bugs. The only bugs I encountered in my early hours with the game involved being able to stand on invisible surfaces mid-air and indoor dimensional shifting that resulted in character placement outside of the playable area with subsequent plummeting into the void, neither of which negatively affected my progression.

Regardless of your personal feelings towards its controversial creator, Phil Fish, FEZ is definitely a title worth picking up even if your gaming time is limited. The minimal story, small levels and frequent auto-save feature allow for multiple short pick up-and-play-then-put-down-because-the-baby-is-crying sessions.

Polytron, I gave you an hour and I am most definitely IMPRESSED.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to get back to FEZ.

As a side note, if you’re interested in a behind the scenes look at the development of FEZ and other indie titles, be sure to check out Indie Game: The Movie at

About the Author

is an avid gamer on all platforms, unapologetic graphics whore and peripheral junkie. He is also a drummer both electronic and acoustic, a loving husband, and adoring father to two lovely girls. Follow Craig on Twitter as @Talus as he eats sandwiches and posits on the latest inconsequential happenings in the games industry.



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