Escher: Meet Gomez (Fez Review)
This game was reviewed on the Xbox 360.
What do you get when you take a 2D game and introduce it to an Escher painting? No, it’s not a joke. Say hello to Fez, a 2D puzzle/platformer which has you playing with a 2D character in a 3D world on a 2D plane. Optical Illusions now become the mechanic of choice in navigating through worlds of puzzles. Does your brain hurt yet? Good.
Meet Gomez, a little white sprite that lives happily in a 2D world, where cubes are the things of nightmares and imagination (squares are nice and reliable)…until disaster strikes and reality starts unraveling! Suddenly Gomez can rotate his world around showing all four sides to everything, while still traveling in 2D. Where before two islands would appear extremely far apart, now by looking at them from a new angle they seemingly form a single platform to walk across! And when you play in 2D, what you see is what you get. This can be extremely confusing at first, but once you get used to the idea that lining up different perspectives gets you through many-a-puzzle, be it connecting up ladders or walking around the edges of buildings. Don’t worry; you’ll be navigating these worlds like a boss in no time.
Fez is a conflict-free game; there are no enemies, no combat, just simple exploration and collecting treasures. Although you can die (usually by falling off a cliff or blowing yourself up with a bomb) there is no penalty for it; you simply respawn on the last stable ledge you were on. This is a relaxing change of pace where players are welcome to concentrate on the puzzles. Looking at the world map will provide you with a list of items that have yet to be discovered and what worlds are connected to each other. This view can be a bit confusing and sometimes difficult to navigate, as it’s all in 3D and rotates just like standard gameplay.
Controls are straight forward; players use either the D-pad or the left analog stick for moving left and right. Up is used to enter doors. Pressing A has you jumping and X is for actions such as picking up and throwing bombs or grabbing hold of crates. The L and R triggers and shoulder pads can both be used for rotating the viewpoint while the right analog stick can be used to move the camera slightly in any direction. Finally, holding down the jump button is an extremely useful technique in dropping down through the floor to the platform below without having to find a ledge to fall off of.
Fez uses an interesting combination of 8bit style textures yet renders them with shading effects to help define the 3D scape of the world. The music is very simple, going for ambiance rather than symphonic suite.
The only downside to an otherwise perfect experience is the somewhat choppy transitions when going between areas in the same world. While the camera pans to a new location in the distance, there is a bit of noticeable loading lag.
Fez is another great example of developers being able to put together a game that is fun, innovative, and doesn’t require 200 people and a budget in the millions of dollars.
Wanderson75.net gives Fez a 4.5/5.0
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