Saturday, August 10, 2013

August of Games: Day 10 - FEZ

Developer: Polytron (Phil Fish)
Genre (Setting): Retro, Surreal
Genre (Gameplay): Platformer
What is this game: This is a game where you play as a blocky little guy who lives in a 2D world. At the beginning of the game you recieve a hat that lets you rotate the world, revealing the 3D structure of the world for the first time. You then proceed to accidently tear a hole in the universe. You then explore the newly-exposed 3D world to find the pieces to fill the gap. There are 32 normal cubes, mostly shattered to smaller bits, that you can collect through puzzle platforming. There are also 32 anti-cubes, which are guarded by significantly more difficult puzzles that involve inventive solutions.
You rotate the world left or right to leap around and platform around a pixel-art environment that wears its Tetris inspiration on its sleeve.
FEZ was in development for an exceptionally long time, and Fish has been very vocal (and often obnoxious) in the media, both leading up to and after the release. FEZ is one of the main games chronicled in Indie Game: The Movie, which, if I haven't said this enough, you should go watch.
What's great about it: FEZ is beyond brilliant. This is the best thing to happen to puzzle games in a good long while. FEZ takes a basic puzzle platformer and adds a twist to it that makes play interesting, but the real strength comes from the Anti-Cube puzzles. Most are based on interpreting the Tetris codes seen around the world into button sequences, but others are even crazier, such as the tuning fork puzzles or the insane Telescope puzzle (see flashing red stars, convert their patterns to binary, convert that to hex, convert that to ASCII and you'll have a button sequence to press to reveal the anti-cube - sorry if that spoiled it for you, but seriously that's crazy). They are so absurdly intricate at times that there's one puzzle in the game that the community came together and brute-forced the game for the solution, and even with the solution no one has yet figured out how you're supposed to figure it out in-game. There are puzzles that have yet to even be solved. They require outside thinking, sometimes outside technology, and an abundance of creativity. Put simply, it takes the existing formula for puzzle games and pushes the envelope constantly.
Visaully, the game is a dream. I don't know if Fish did the pixel art himself, but whoever did is very skilled. And very dedicated. Its all put together well, with constant visual themes (Tetris stuff mostly, but the other areas have their own unique visual identities as well). The music, done by Disasterpiece, is charming and classic.
This game has pretty much no real flaws. The biggest complaints people have with the game are basically juts character assaults on Phil Fish, who is kind of an ass, but that doesn't make his game less brilliant. If you like games that make you think, you owe it to yourslef to play FEZ.

How do I get it: You buy it on Steam! It's also available on Xbox Live Arcade, and it's easier if you have a Gamepad, but regular old Steam is the most accessible method. It costs $10.

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