Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Game Review: FEZ

Wrong FEZ.

Still wrong FEZ. But it is funny.

OH HELL NO! Wrong FEZ!!!

THIS is more like it!

 There hasn't been a game that has come out, for me, in the past few game console generations that has captured in spirit and feeling my earliest adventures on my NES. One of whimsy, full of color, simple and elegant. One that as you peel back the many layers is also a deep and somewhat dark experience. One that makes you actually have to take notes, yes take notes as on paper. Yes writing real notes, jotting down clues to what is happening, breaking the secret coded languages through out the game to discover what this new and exciting world our hero Gomez is bending reality in.

This is FEZ by Polytron Corporation and it is my hands down prime nominee for 2012 Game of the Year. Bold statement for sure but I mean it. I haven't played anything this satisfying in decades. I could literally feel myself back in 1987 with my NES playing Super Mario Bros for the first time. It was awkward and challenging but became infinitely rewarding as I passed each challenge. And when some of the secrets began to unlock for me each felt like a genuine accomplishment.

Now I have completed this game fully. I've unlocked all achievements and found all the secrets. I will also say on record that I looked up advice for five of the puzzles because they were so difficult that it appears only the developers knew their purpose (Black Monolith anyone?). That was five puzzles out of what felt like hundreds and I earned every puzzle I solved too. This game does a wonderful job of presenting its challenges in such a way that it doesn't feel that the game is smarter than the player but that each is a mystery that begs for you to dig deeper, search harder for the illusive answers.

The sound design, level design, aesthetic look of the world, everything is flawless. Gomez can't die, he just respawns immediately. Day and night cycle through the world changing puzzles and encounters constantly. You find artifacts and treasure maps that keep pushing you forward in your effort to rebuild this shattered golden cube that opened your eyes at the beginning and showed you the 2D world was really in three dimensions.....thanks to your little red FEZ on top of Gomez's head.

For fans of puzzlers, light platforming, old school gaming sensibilities....for fans of depth and fun I just cannot recommend FEZ enough. If you have access to Xbox Live Arcade pick it up as it will enthral you like no other game I have played so far.

FEZ.....this is art in game form.

And don't forget to talk to Owls.