Indie games have had a big resurgence somewhat recently, with titles such as Super Meat Boy, Braid and Limbo selling ridiculously well across different platforms, proving that Indie games are a force to be reckoned with. Sony have supported indie titles from the start after making promises to indie developers they will be supported for their hardware and pushing a selection of titles being made available for free on Play station Plus each month to gamers. Here GP reviews one of the most critically acclaimed and much talked about indie games there is, dust off your little red hat and embrace the weird & wonderful world that is Fez…
Firstly, I have to be honest I am a little late joining the Fez party, even though I had seen & heard a lot about the game before its release I missed out as I was put off by the seemingly simple game play and visual style. I then forgot about it, becoming distracted with Journey and other games of a similar genre.
Indie Game: The Movie
I watched the documentary named Indie Game: The Movie which follows the creators of Super Meat Boy, along with Phil Fish the creator of Fez as they each face the trials and tribulations of game design. The documentary was inspiring, I didn’t realise Fez was made by just one person, I took it for granted thinking it was created by a small studio and remember thinking why waste time and energy on a game like this compared to others I am used to seeing on the PS4. With just the one guy behind it, it changed my way of thinking. Hence I gave it a go and now I realise how wrong I was to judge it. Not only is Fez brilliant to play, It’s a complex and compelling puzzler that looks absolutely gorgeous in both 2D and 3D and has quickly become an all time favourite game.
Quite simply, you play as Gomez, a small sprite in a 2D world who discovers a third dimension after receiving a Fez hat (as you do). The 3D is an integral part in game play simply flicking either L2 or R2 will swivel the world to show four 2D views of the 3D world. Sounds easy, but puzzles are cleverly based around moving views so Gomez can reach ladders or platforms that are higher up on different views. Some puzzles are so cleverly executed, that made me happy to sit and wonder what puzzle I’d face next.
The main aim of the game is to collect cubes and cube fragments, which have been scattered around Fez’s many levels. Some are easy to find and collect, such as jumping up to a higher platform and rotating the world to see the cube piece, whilst others can be more complex such as solving a puzzle to collect a full cube. There’s even anti-cubes (for every cube piece is an anti-cube apparently) that are much difficult to find hidden deep within the Fez universe.
Admittedly the story is a little weak, as is the difficulty of the game. There are no enemies in Fez; rather the puzzles are the only thing for you to worry about. You don’t have any lives or health in Fez either, if you fall, Gomez will be respawned back to the last platform. For me, this adds to the charm of the game but I can see why others may see this as making it easy to play.
The visuals are stunning for a 2D / 3D hybrid – colours really pop on screen from the beginning vibrant lush green forest like levels to wonderful waterfalls of deep blue and even dark and more moodier tones as the levels progress. The music is blended brilliantly, giving a familiar retro feel to the game; every level is themed perfectly and makes switching to different views a joyful breeze.
There are many secrets hidden in the game, often found by activating switches, along with treasure maps, artefacts and more, making levels worth going back through with a fine toothed comb.
Here lies the problem with Fez, even though levels have the use of portals to switch back to and forth from, navigation is extremely difficult. There is a map, but no way of telling how to get to and from certain areas, making going back to levels a chore rather than with ease like it should.
It’s a shame Phil Fish quit the video games industry as a sequel to Fez is greatly sought among other game ideas of his. Here’s hoping he may return, donning the red hat to capture gamer’s imaginations once again. The game proves the old theory of not judging a book by its cover, as below the cute and simple charm of Fez lies a deep and meaningful experience, displaying the hard work put into it.