Community Review: Fez

Part of me wants a little bit more time to organise my own thoughts on Fez, the mindbending platformer recently released on Xbox LIVE, but another part of me just wants to talk about the experience and see what comes of it. So ladies and gentlemen of taste — anyone out there spend much time with Fez over the weekend? Thoughts?

To an extent Fez was everything I was expecting — a perspective shifting puzzler of sorts that rewards experimentation — but in practice it does elicit a sense of wonder. On one level your brain implicitly understands what's going on. Personally I was able to blunder my way through most puzzles, but would instantly deliver a blank stare if asked to explain what I just did.

I think that's probably the result of great design. I spent some time playing Fez with an audience, and the chatter was interesting: 'this doesn't make sense', 'oh, it's 2D once you flip, but it's a 3D environment', etc. All the while I simply played wordlessly, working things out as I went.

But still, there's a learning process. You begin by simply spamming perspective shifts until you get the desired result, but once things get more complicated, you find yourself tweaking things more consciously, delivering an extra layer of reward. The best parts of Fez are intuitive, but learning to follow that intuition to push your thought process to new levels is brilliant fun.

My one major complaint with Fez is the way in which the meta-world is managed, and a map system that — contrary to everything else in the game — is quite counter-intuitive. To begin with in particular I felt completely lost within the maze of levels that Fez provides. This feeling of being lost may have been deliberate, and by design, but I found it very frustrating at first. At times I was afraid to casually explore Fez's universe for fear of not knowing how to get back to different points. I'm hoping this is something that gets more manageable as I play but for now, three hours in, I'm finding it difficult to navigate.

But asides from that, I'm loving Fez so far.

What about you folks? Anyone playing Fez? I'm really keen to hear your thoughts.


    Is this out on PC at all? I'm actually quite keen to give it a go!

      It's not out on PC yet but like most indie games I'm sure it will be ported there eventually. In the time being you can check out Sky Island,
      It's a free flash game with similar mechanics.

      In the meantime you could also smugly play Legend of Grimrock? It's pretty special.

      I'm going to be super smug and play both!

    I may be a jaded guy, but I still dont want to give phil fish money

      I understand your feelings and it is an interesting point of discussion whether it is possible to distance the product from the creator. 1up have an interesting article discussing the topic

      I'm with you there. Game looks interesting but the things he said before really struck with a nerve with me.

      Is that because he said that Japanese games suck??? I hate to break it to you but half the internet has been saying the same thing for the past 3 or 4 years now! Now I have nothing against Japanese games and I still buy a lot of them (esp Nintendo and Sega games) but seriously it's just an opinion. I mean it's not like he supported Nazis or sold poison milk to school children - he said something "sucks" - I've labelled things as "suck" in my lifetime, so has everone, there are worse things in the world than having an opinion.

    I can't seem to find this on XBOX Live market place. Is this out in Australia already?

      I remember seeing it.

        I dl'd the demo - waiting to buy for when I got nothing else to play. Seems fun enough but not quite a 'must have' for me.

      I've already ranted about this on twitter (what you don't follow me?), but it's a major failing with the new XBL UI. They waste so much space telling you about Foxtel, and Windows phone competitions, and Foxtel, and Hollywood movies, and oh - a whole TV tab dedicated to Foxtel - but new release games are nearly impossible to find.

      You have to go to the games tab, Games Marketplace icon, Newest, then you'll find it. You could probably go left to the bing tab and type it in there too, but meh. Point remains that they still expect you to know what you're looking for.

        I agree with this, it's a bit of a pain. And if a game is released while your xbox is on, sometimes you need to turn it off and on again before you can see the game.

        sort of agree with you batguy. Except for the Foxtel tab. I mean it is a big feature that needs to be highlighted but perhapsa permalink icon on the home page icon is enough. That will take you straight to foxtel, or reroute you to the store if you havent purchased an account yet. Have you guys actually tried it? it works unbelievably well, as i am currently streaming it on high settings on a 5.4 mbps connection. i can even maintain a download speed of about 300kb p/s on my pc without it affecting foxtel

          I tried the month of free trial and it was pretty good, but not enough to make me pay for it. Might reconsider it for 6 months of the year if they get live rugby league in the future.

          But no matter how good it is, doesn't change the fact that they should tone it down a bit and share prominence with the games that are the original reason for the device!

    Fell asleep playing this on Saturday night (due to lack of sleep, not the game). The music is beautiful.
    I'm really enjoying it - I'm not too concerned about the map, because I aim to 100% the game anyway :) If I get lost, I'll just complete that area and either stumble into a new one or find my way home.
    I can imagine it being a pain if you wanted to get somewhere on purpose though...

      The problem is that there's a lot of backtracking required. And finding how to get to one specific place is a pain.

        It does become easier, I've put in about 5-6 hours now I think and I am starting to get it. Having the warp gates active helps in letting you jump to a point that you do know the way from.

    Really enjoying it. It's a little bit Super Paper Mario and a lot bit Crush and whole 8-bit cool. The perspective shift is, as mark says, completely intuitive in practice but hard to explain. I'm still fairly early in the journey but will definitely complete it in the next few days.

    I was quite excited about this given the amount of coverage its had on sites like this and others so early on sat I jumped on and grabbed it. The game plays as expected and has the great low-fi feel. For me the thing that totally breaks this game is the level navigation. I put a number of hours into it on sat expecting it to start coming together and making sense, in the end I stopped playing with a feeling of total disappointment.

    I'm of the not buying Fez camp. Not because of Fish's words (Although his sheer arrogance certainly didn't help), but because what I've played of Fez, I found boring as hell. "Oooh, look guys, another quirky indie platforming game with an interesting mechanic!" That's a worn out speil if ever I heard one, and it's been heard many a time over the last few years. And honestly, making a boring game is far worse than just being an arrogant douchebag.

      Yeh I'm with you on this one. Tried out the demo and wasn't really impressed.. maybe it gets better later but I'm not really interested to find out.

    I've only had a short time with Fez, but I'm enjoying it, I think it's a cool mechanic, I hope they do more with it later in the game though.

    In regards to boycotting Fez because of Phil Fish; i thought this was an interesting insight into another indie dev who strikes me as kind of an asshole

    I bought it the night it came out and i'd describe it as "delightful" the fact you never know where'll end up next is pretty cool and makes you feel like a kid again playing Zelda on the in-store NES at MYER!

    I read that article and I don't think Blow is an asshole but he does baffle me - he seems to actively 'hate' gaming and yet persists in the field. Braid is not bad, kinda fun and clever (still waiting for a price drop though, I won't pay $13.60 for a game with 6 levels) but that Witness game makes my eyes glaze over - tracing lines?? That's not a game, why doesn't he just put cows on his island and have us farm them for all the excitement he's offering

      Blow and his clique come off lauding him as the second coming of Gaming Jesus. I raged so hard.

      Braid is a good platformer. I will concede that, but beating players over the head with slabs of text is not an effective way to use a game to convey a philosophical idea. The thing that sets games apart from other media is their interactivity. Reading books that are placed for you to find is not interactive. Its pretty weak if you ask me.

      As for The Witness... It sounds like Myst with worse puzzles.

    My question is, if I didn't enjoy the demo, will I enjoy the rest of the game?

    I fell into that trap with Braid. I found the demo didn't inspire me at all but because people were saying how great and industry changing the game was I bought it hoping that maybe it was just a poor choice of demo content but the rest of the game (aside from the last level which was the only interesting part) felt just as bland to me.

    I absolutely adore Fez's music but the gameplay just doesn't seem to feel as exciting and inspiring as people are saying so I want to know if it's just the demo or me?

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