FEZ is delightful. That is quite simply the only way to describe the game. It combines old school platforming with a sense of whimsy, exploration and tough-as-nails puzzle solving, letting you get as much, or as little, out of the game as you want.
Anyone who has been following gaming for the past few years is likely to know of the name FEZ. First released on the Xbox 360, the game is the brainchild of Phil Fish and almost single handedly spearheaded the indie revolution, the events of which are chronicled in Indie Game: The Movie. Even though Fish is no longer creating video games, the company he helped found, Polytron, ensures that his legacy lives on by porting the game to as many systems as possible. With the help of Blitworks, Polytron has finally ported FEZ to all of Sony's current systems including the PlayStation 4. Was the game worth the wait? Absolutely.
Just What Is FEZ?
At it's core, FEZ is a 2D platforming game with a twist: you can rotate the game world to discover new paths, giving an element of 3D to protagonist Gomez's 2D world. No way to jump to a nearby floating island? Rotate the game world to discover a set of hidden platforms. Can't find a hidden cube fragment? Rotate the game world to find it on the backside of a building.
FEZ is light on story, with one of the game's few cutscenes showing how Gomez gets the power to rotate his world; after that, you're left on your own to gather the game's 32 golden cubes. This focus on gameplay over story is reminiscent of an older generation of games, where much of the story is left for the player to figure out. You'll appreciate it as the gameplay is so good you won't want to take a break, forced or otherwise.
Gomez doesn't have a lot of moves at his disposal: a jump, the ability to lift and throw objects, a decent set of climbing skills, and the aforementioned rotating abilities are all that he'll have access to throughout the entire game. The good news is that the controls behind these moves are fantastic, with Gomez having a nice natural feel to his jumps. Should you happen to miss a jump, don't worry: FEZ has no death penalties, as Gomez can't actually die. Falling off a platform and into the nether will cause Gomez to reappear right at the same platform he fell from, enabling you to try to hit a tricky jump one more time. FEZ is about pushing onward, always, and the game helps facilitate that.
You'll be jumping a lot in FEZ, as the game is almost entirely exploration based: There are no enemies to contend with and the only challenges you'll face is nailing a rotation and hitting a jump. Each world you explore is connected to each other and it's entirely possible to get lost for hours exploring the game world. The soothing music and excellent pixel art visuals compliment the relaxed style the game puts forth.
More Than Meets The Eye
The 32 golden cubes found throughout Fez can be found entirely by using your platforming prowess and are all that is needed to complete the game; however, the golden cubes are only just the beginning. Hidden within the game are 32 Anti-Cubes, found solely by puzzle solving, QR codes and deciphering the in-game language. While it will take you a few hours to complete the game by gaining the golden cubes, there is hours and hours of additional content in trying to get each Anti-Cube, especially if you don't cheat and look up the solution to each one.
When you initially play FEZ, you'll likely not notice the background decorations, but look closely: These seemingly random drawings are clues to each of the game's 32 Anti-Cubes. Even the trophy list is a clue to an Anti-Cube. Everything in FEZ exists for a reason.
FEZ is the type of game where you play with a notebook open, jotting down each of the clues you see and trying to make sense of it. FEZ is the gaming equivalent of a Rubik's Cube, where each layer you solve gets you one step closer to solving the overall puzzle. While the game can be completed by obtaining 32 cubes, getting 64 cubes enables you to see the true ending and is one of the greatest challenges in gaming today, provided you don't cheat. I can't stress that enough: cheating and looking up the solutions to the puzzles in FEZ is just cheating yourself out of an amazing experience.
In addition to the cubes, FEZ also has four artifacts carefully hidden throughout the game world, just waiting for a diligent explorer to find. The more you put into FEZ, the more you'll get out of it.
The PlayStation 4 Advantage
Without a doubt, the PlayStation 4 version of FEZ is the best looking version of the game yet. The graphics are crisp and colorful and the game's controls work perfectly on the DualShock 4. Polytron and Blitworks have taken advantage of said controller in subtle ways that enhance the overall experience of the game.
The map screen is now accessible by clicking the touchpad and the DualShock 4's lightbar changes color depending on the time of day it is in-game. For example, the lightbar shines bright white when it is high noon, orange-red when the sun is setting and a light purple when it is night. It's nothing that affects gameplay but it's nice to see an effort was made to making the game feel unique on the PS4.
FEZ Three Ways
In what is becoming a welcome trend, FEZ features not only Cross-Save functionality but also Cross-Buy functionality. Purchasing the game for your PlayStation 4 entitles you to not only a PlayStation Vita version but a PlayStation 3 version as well, giving you tons of value for only $12.99.
The Final Verdict
FEZ won't be a game for everyone, but it's a game that everyone should at least try once. Platforming aficionados will fall in love while gamers looking for a more cerebral challenge are going to have a blast solving each of the game's puzzles. However, if you're the type of gamer who is looking to just shut off your brain when playing a game and the mere thought of a Rubik's Cube sends you into a fit of rage, FEZ is clearly not going to be for you.
For the rest of us, FEZ is delightful and years after its initial release, it still stands tall as one of the best indie games ever released.
Final Score: 9/10
A copy of FEZ was provided to PS4 Experts by Polytron for review purposes.
Article by - Joshua Phillips