Status: “150%” complete. Unlikely to put more work into it
Most Intriguing Idea: Making a 2-D platformer from projections of a 3-D world.
Best Design Decision: The rotation mechanic.
Worst Design Decision: Being indecisive about the point of the platforming
Fez is a very nice game, with an intriguing central conceit, that doesn’t hold up against the puzzle-platformer genre’s recent classics. In part, this is because Fez can’t seem to decide whether its platforming is a puzzle, or just a traversal challenge on the way to the puzzle. The indecision turns out to be a problem. The controls feel mushy and a bit inconsistent, which works out fine when you’re just exploring the world. When Fez starts throwing more conventional platforming tests (e.g. the rising lava level) against the player, though, the inadequacy of the controls turns the game into a pointless exercise in frustration. Fez had a famously long development cycle, and some of these segments feel like artifacts that linger from an earlier iteration of the game.
As for the puzzles, there are a few magic moments, but the cryptographic component mostly fell flat. Figuring out what was going on with the numerical system gave me a great sense of discovery, but the alphabet and tetrominoes did nothing for me. In part that’s due to the tininess and low contrast of those glyphs, even on a fair-size HDTV, but even taking that annoyance into account I just didn’t find any of it very interesting. Fez is at its best when it creates its puzzles from physical perspective, and its best is very good, but the game never really gelled for me as a whole.