FEZ, the 2D puzzle platformer from Polytron Corporation, was originally released in 2012 for the Xbox 360 before coming out eventually for Windows, OSX, linux, and the PlayStation family of systems over the course of the next two years. While there was a lot of buzz surrounding the development, release, and reception of this title, it’s easy to forget the game behind the story. In this 2D world where all of the characters are only aware of the two axes that they live their life on, it’s only when Gomez, our main character, gets the titular Fez that he finds out there’s a lot more to the world than he previously knew.
Adding a 3D component where you’re able to shift the world left and right at 90 degree angles allowed the player to now change the placements of platforms relative to the player, discover new doorways, and uncover hidden secrets as you search to reclaim all of the scattered pieces of the Hypercube. As with any puzzle game, you will have a variety of challenges that are presented to you, some as simple as platforming to the right area, to one that had to initially be brute forced because it was so difficult to find a real solution. To complete the game it wasn’t a requirement to clear all of the puzzles, but with the level of depth and planning put into each of them, a large community grew, working hard to solve all of its secrets.
FEZ was able to take a simple concept that we have seen used in games like Mario and Sonic since the start of gaming and not only gave players a technical challenge but also a mental exercise players are not likely to forget for some time. Some of the other challenges posed to players as they progressed through the game came in deciphering not only one but three different languages: Alphabet, numbers, and even a language of button presses. Once you’ve translated from the cube languages to our own, then following instructions will reveal collectibles. Needing to pull out a pad and pen for a video game isn’t a common occurrence, but it’s one that you’ll find yourself doing over and over again in FEZ.
While looking up FEZ online nowadays will most likely bring up certain controversies about the creator and development process, but if you’re looking for a pretty pixel art title with puzzles that will genuinely challenge you both in ability with a controller and with critical thinking (and you’re not about to go look up every solution in the game), then FEZ is a game that you will keep wanting to complete just one more puzzle.
Did you play FEZ when it first came out? What did you think of the charming puzzle game? Would you recommend it to others?