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Fez Review

fez_logo_by_phishy-d33nnn4Just another take on the classic 2D side-scroller… or is it? Gomez is a little white fez-wearing character that finds a 3rd dimension to add to his flat 2D existence. With this he embarks on a puzzle-filled adventure which requires you to think in a multitude of ways to advance through the game and save the universe. With unparreleled art that has you mesmerized with each new scene, you’ll get lost fast in a world that leaves you wanting more and more.

What happens when you add depth to a side-scoller? Fez is what happens. Using an ever-changing perspective of Fez’s world, you are tasked with finding clues and solving countless puzzles in this beautifully crafted game. If you liked the challenge of Portal, then you’d love Fez. There are many similarities: the lack of a true epic storyline, as well as no direct enemies or combat of any sort. Just fun, brain-wracking puzzles.

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Gameplay – 16/20
The entire premise of the game is built around being able to solve the various tasks and riddles by using a different prespective. Two controls rotate your view left or right ninety degrees, thereby allowing you to reach rocks that you couldn’t climb on before, see tunnels you couldn’t see before, and jump to new platforms you couldn’t reach before. Some puzzles need to be arranged carefully and won’t look right unless arranged perfectly from certain, or all, viewpoints. There is a lot of open-ended exploration involved, as collecting cubes (made of a number of mini-cubes) will unlock new worlds, with more and progressively harder enigmas.

Graphics & Sound – 19/20
I can’t say enough good things about the art in this game. It is truly beautiful and unique and each new world brings interesting surprises. The art itself is fantastic, nothing short of a masterpiece in each section of each world; whether it be a floating magical windmill or a lighthouse island or a hovering hill with it’s own waterfall, it doesn’t case to amaze. The screenshots speak for themselves.

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As for the auditory side, the soundtrack it is unique and suits the game extremely well. Ambient noisesmake for great creepy or dark scenes. The sounds are muted and subdued and reflect Fez’s soft character. I’d have liked to see a bit more in the sound department but nothing that really hurts the score here, as the graphics certainly bridge the gap.

Controls & UI – 12/15
There are few controls and they’re pretty straightfoward. There is very little tutorial though your guide through the game can be a bit annoying sometimes. I prefer to use a gamepad (Xbox Controller) which works well; the triggers rotate the view left and right, and the buttons function as jump and action keys.

The UI is pretty good. It is minimal; as the player requires very little information while playing. My biggest gripe here is the oddly laid out map-type system, which does it’s best to convey each area with respect to connecting areas in a graphical way. It’s simple to understand and I grant it is cool to look at, but as far as actual navigation is concerned it is more complicated than it ought to be.

Replayability – 8/15
Obviously a puzzle game isn’t the best in terms of offering endless replay options, so its score suffers here. I don’t detract too much from the score though because at it’s core it’s not meant to be, nor are puzzle games that way, in any case.

Immersion – 8/10
The world is rich, there is no doubt, though I’m left wanting more depth. It leaves you wanting more, more of a back story to the world, to Fez, to everything around you, but it does suck you in regardless.

Challenge Level – 6/10
As I mentioned before, the challenging puzzles get more complicated the further you progress in game, as you would expect. I docked quite a few points here though because I could easily see different difficulty levels added, as well as light / humourous enemies or other dangerous obstacles. Not to mention a sort of hardcore mode that requires very careful ledgework owing to a very finite number of deaths.

Mods & Modability – 3/10
Again, the puzzle-game genre hurts Fez more, as this isn’t a category that is open to modding. Aside from minor modifications, the only other thing mods can add is more puzzles, which isn’t really an easy feat. There are some mods out there, but nothing worth mentioning.

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OVERALL SCORE – 72
As with my previous review of FTL (http://bandofothersgaming.com/pc-gaming/ftl-review/2015/12), Fez is a great game and well worth the money. My own score doesn’t do it justice, and anyone a fan of a good puzzle game and indie games in general will truly enjoy the time they spend playing Fez. Do yourself a favor and get lost in Fez’s gorgeous world.

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