May 04, 2013

FEZ (PC) Review

Lights Off
5 Incredible
Retails for: $14.99
We Recommend: $14.99
  • Developer: Polytron Corporation
  • Publisher: Trapdoor
  • Genre: Indie, Platformer
  • Released: May 01, 2013
  • Platform: Windows
  • Reviewed: Windows

I wasn’t the biggest fan of FEZ when it first released on Xbox Live Arcade. The gameplay, the visual design, and the soundtrack were like nothing else, and that is what I came for. Unfortunately the performance issues were enough to make me stop playing entirely. Now, just a year later we have the PC version.

Is it better? In the simplest of answers: Yes. FEZ is a delight in modern gaming as there is no combat, no guns, no expletives, or a scantily-clad women. It isn’t lacking these conceits, but excels without them. Proving that you can have an engaging game that evokes some nostalgia of playing NES games. Gomez, wakes up in his cozy 2D world. But upon receiving a message and meeting a man with an eyepatch, everything changed. He sees a massive golden cube in the sky, it bestows him a red fez, and shatters into an innumerable number of pieces. You awaken the next day to a whole new perspective and work to put the world back together like some giant Humpty Dumpty before it collapse space and time.

The game is played from a 2D perspective at all times, but you can rotate the plane 90 degrees to the left or right to access all four sides. You’ll be able to jump, climb, push, pickup, rotate, and throw right from the get-go. You can fall, at almost no penalty. Terminal falls will place you back at the last safe platform. Some puzzles get convoluted and require a lot of dexterity or forward thinking to anticipate how to navigate the world. But once it clicks, you’ll progress from room to room collecting cube bits, assembling a whole cube. To complete the game, only requires 32 cubes whether they are golden or blue anti-cubes. For a richer reward, try collecting all 64 cubes.

The game’s map is wonderous and vast, also confusing as hell. As you enter each new area, it’ll show you everything connected to the area you just arrived at. Once you’ve visited and done 100% of what’s available, it’ll be covered in a gold sheen. If you haven’t, the map will tell you basically what’s left to do. You can zoom and rotate the map, but it isn’t very clear in telling you where or how to access these areas. You’ll be doing a lot of backtracking.

Mysteries lie deep within FEZ. There are sounds, letters, glyphs, and other oddities begging to be discovered and mastered. Exploration is key, and is a joy to do. Completionists will find tons of value deciphering all of the codes and unlocking the secrets contained in this rich world.

FEZ is soft and bright. Some areas provide darkness and thunderstorms in contrast, giving off a diverse look with each area you visit. All of it in pixel art with immense detail. Day turns to night, and back to day giving a sense of a world that is changing all around you. Rich Vreeland, or otherwise known as “Disasterpeace” puts together a compelling and ambient score of chiptune. It is a soothing score that doesn’t ever become intrusive. Other environmental sounds and chimes are reminiscent of Legend of Zelda especially when opening treasure chests. All of it works together in harmony and is irresistible as you relax while playing.

My PC Specs:
– Intel Core i7 3770k @ 3.9GHz (Turbo)

If you don’t have an Xbox 360, or have even played the XBLA version of FEZ – I can’t recommend the PC version more. There’s been nothing new added, but the performance improvements to be able to run the game in 1920×1080 at 60fps under OpenGL is how it should be played and enjoyed. There’s plenty of documentation of all the game’s puzzles on the internet by now, but you really should make your own notes and take the time to figure it out for yourself. FEZ is a rare gem, a wholly rewarding experience, and is a must-play.

An early access Steam code for the final game was provided by Polytron for review purposes