Fez for PS4, PS3, PS Vita, Xbox 360, PC, OS X and Linux
Fez is almost the quintessential ‘indie’ game. It’s a platformer with a clever twist, with a pixel art style and a creator famed for his outbursts. Such a cliché! I really love this game though, and I was thrilled to revisit it on PS4.
Fez follows Gomez, a youngster who discovers the ability to perceive the third dimension. He sets out to collect a few dozen cubes which will save the world…or something. Fez doesn’t have much of a plot, but its world is curiously fascinating and engaging, with a few amusing NPCs and some decent writing. This may sound odd, but this is a minimalist plot done right. There’s nothing to get in the way of the pure gameplay, but there’s enough intrigue about the world itself to give everything a context.
Fez is a platformer at heart, with the main gimmick being the difficult to explain fact that each area has four sides, which Gomez can switch to at will, changing how the world is perceived. This is used for simple platforming to collect cubes from a series of different worlds, which can be explored at leisure. Fez is an open game, with exploration being a huge part of its charm. The actual platforming itself is frustratingly imprecise, but the ingenious level design more than makes up for it. There are a few spins on the formula, such as platforms which can also be rotated and throwable bombs, but by and large Fez is a great example of how a game can get away with one really strong, original mechanic rather than aiming to be a jack of all trades.
Fez is a game filled to the brim with secrets, many of which incredibly obscure and complex. The world of Fez is filled with codes and ciphers and treasure maps, with no hand holding as to what corresponds with what. There are whole rooms with purposes that seem maddeningly obscure, only for the key to their existence to be found half the game away. This sort of thing normally turns me off, but none of it is needed for the main game; you can reach the credits without delving into this stuff and it adds an extra layer to the experience. A palpable sense of mystery suffuses the entire game, with a nagging desire to just understand how this world works.
The visuals are absolutely lovely, with gorgeous pixel art vistas and some lovely lighting effects. The music is good too, very chilled and low key yet absolutely suiting every area. The different regions are suitably distinct from one another, with suitably different vibes.
Fez is the creation of one creative genius, one who has been forced out of the industry by the levels of abuse he’s suffered at the hands of the despicable online commentators. People have said Phil Fish should get a thicker skin, but why the hell should he? Anyone who can make games like Fez is a gift to the game industry, so I can only hope one day the online gaming community reaches a point where it deserved eccentric figures like Fish enough that he’ll come back to the fold and maybe, just maybe, polish off Fez 2.