In an attempt to reach nearly every gaming platform on the market, FEZ makes its way onto the PlayStation Network on all of Sony’s current consoles and portables with nifty new features in tow. Despite some glaring gameplay issues, FEZ is sure to please those who have yet to play the 2-year-old puzzle-platformer.
Our hero Gomez begins his adventure in a rather plain and dull 2D island, seemingly forever stuck with going either left or right. The mere idea of a third dimension is farfetched and unrealistic, and the townsfolk around you believe that.
As you respond to a message from an elder of your town to talk to him atop the island, he sends you to another dimension, where you are bestowed a fez from a floating hexahedron that grants you the capability to change the perspective of the world. With the new power bestowed to him, Gomez must adventure through numerous worlds to restore the knowledge of an otherwise flat world and help discover that there’s much more to life than what is perceived to be seen.
FEZ’s gameplay revolves around the concept of changing the perspective of an otherwise 2D world with the use of four sides on a linear plain. The concept quickly becomes fluid and delivers a sense of achievement once players figure out how to grab cubes and cube fragments using the 3D world to advance through varying stages that contain their own unique take on the perspective-changing gameplay.
The major changes that arrive on the PSN version involve the use of the touchpad on the PlayStation 4 Dualshock controller and the Vita touchscreen, as well as the use of Cross-Play saves between your PlayStation hardware.
As an alternative mode of gameplay and control, players can use the respective touch interfaces to change the camera perspective; it’s a welcome feature that has a sense of novelty to it, but players will quickly switch back to using the trigger buttons to achieve this function, at least most of the time.
The PSN version also takes full advantage of Cross-Play saves between all three current Sony hardware platforms, where, for example, one player can pick up and play on their Vita where they left off on their PS4. It’s a nice added feature, but it is not necessary considering one can finish a runthrough in one or two sittings to begin with.
Where the game falls short is its confusing navigation and furthering of gameplay elements to actually achieve something great.
The map system for FEZ is atrocious as the different angles can present a sense of being lost and the actual map pause screen doesn’t alleviate this confusion. Teleporters are added to prevent most of the backtracking, but this seems to be more of a copout to an otherwise flawed system.
FEZ also doesn’t go beyond the game mechanics introduced at the beginning of the game, which by the end, one can’t help but feel the need for more. A mundane repetitiveness looms over the latter part of the game, which creates a bittersweet result once you’ve completed FEZ. Had there been a game like the much-rumored FEZ II, I’m sure many of these “needs” would be alleviated. Instead, the first iteration of this potential franchise leaves much to be desired.
Graphics & Sound
One of the stronger points of FEZ is the overall atmosphere presented by the game. The 8-bit inspired sprites and graphics are colorful and is sure to delight the retro gamer in all of us. Varying stage layouts not only present different atmospheres, but also different ways for players to navigate stages, including timed events and context-sensitive situations.
The sound effects also accompany the graphics with the beeps of boops of that generation of gaming, from deep bitty explosions to high-pitched jump sounds. The music has an ambient nature that creates an overall serenity that’s pleasing to hear as you play the game, and dynamically adapts to the many environments you’ll discover throughout FEZ.
The combination of all of these elements makes for an aesthetically beautiful game, and because of that makes it a pleasure for anyone to play.
FEZ provides a pallette of what puzzle-platforming games should derive their ideas from. Granted, the game has some flaws that prove to be annoying for some, but beyond these lies an innovative gameplay style and a sprawling 8-bit world that reaches out and grabs the senses of the player. The addition of PlayStation-exclusive features like touch-interface controls and Cross-Play saves are novel in concept, but remain very useful in defining the game.
Overall, FEZ deserves to be one of those games that everyone should play at least once to experience something that is artistically engrossing and fun to pick up and play.