Review: Fez

At a Glance

ESRB Rating: E - Everyone
My Rating: Everyone
Genre: Puzzle Platformer
License: Commercial
Release Year: 2013
Review Published On: January 27th, 2021
Played on: Thaddeus

Available from:

Humble Store, Itch.IO, Steam

Save System:

When you start your game, you choose to store your progress in one of three save slots. After this, your progress will be automatically saved as you wander around the world.

To pause the game, bring up the pause menu by pressing ESC.

Summary of
Major Issues:

Since this game is primarily about solving riddles, there isn't much in the way of violence. That said, your character can be hurt in several ways, forcing your to restart a section.

There are also some creepy cemetery themed areas later on, but again, these are pretty tame.

Screenshots

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Exploring the lighthouse

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Into the deep dark woods

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Spooky ruins



Game Overview

Today is a very special day. It's the day when Gomez begins a grand adventure. But first, he must go and meet the great Hexahedron, who will guide him through a special ritual. Things go as planned at first, as the Hexahedron shows the player and Gomez how a person's perspective can change the world the world around them. Gomez is then given a nifty fez to commemorate this occasion.

But, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, and Gomez' experimentation with other perspectives results in the Hexahedron shattering. Without its guidance, reality will soon break down. Fortunately, a friendly little 4th-dimensional being known as "Dot" is here to provide advice and help Gomez navigate his world.

To repair the Hexahedron, you'll need to find its fragments. These have been scattered all over the world, only accessible through intricate puzzles that revolve around Gomez's ability to change his perspective. It's a little hard to explain, but the basics of it is this: the game treats a 3-dimensional world as a 2-dimensional plain. When you "change perspective", you rotate the 3-dimensional world you can see 90 degrees on the Y-axis, creating a new 2-dimensional environment. This is something of a mindscrew, but the net result is that by manipulating the world, areas move closer together or farther apart.

However, there's a limit to how much you can distort the environment. Too much manipulation creates black holes -- tears in the fabric of reality. These obstacles will heal themselves over time, but their presence makes it much harder to explore an area.

Perhaps the biggest twist is that manipulating the world is only part of the solution. Many of the cubes you're looking for are hidden away behind more elaborate puzzles. You'll need to figure out how to decipher many cryptic clues throughout the game, some of which are incredibly notorious for their sheer difficulty. A certain clock-based puzzle is absolutely infamous, for example.

On the plus side, there's no way to actually lose this game. If you don't give up, you'll eventually find everything you need to restore the Hexahedron and save the day.

That said, if you're not one for elaborate riddles, this game will frustrate you to no end, and I'd recommend playing something else.

Points of Interest

Two endings
In the beginning, you're told that you need to collect 32 Cubes to repair the Hexahedron. But you'll also eventually discover something called an Anti-Cube. These count as Cubes for the purposes of opening doors and earning the first ending, but it also hints at the existence of a not-so-secret hidden ending. If you're willing to search out all 32 Cubes and 32 Anti-Cubes, you'll get this new ending instead of the original one. This second ending is a bit less interesting in my opinion, but it does stand as a reward for those who have the patience to find every last Cube and Anti-Cube.
Extra collectables and secrets
If you're one of those people who aren't satisfied with just finding 64 cube-like things, there are also a handful of rare artifacts for you to collect. They don't actually do anything other than sit in your inventory and look pretty, but what's a collect-a-thon without a little extra stuff to find?
Steam community features
Fez comes complete with twelve difficult achievements. Only two of them have to do with progression through the main story. The rest are about locating the hidden artifacts and solving the trickier puzzles. Very few players have managed to earn more than the first two achievements in the last seven years, so consider yourself warned.
Requests admin privileges
For some reason that I'm not aware of, Fez will ask to be run with administrator privileges on Windows 10. These privileges are restricted for many good reasons, and I don't know why you'd need them to run a game. At any rate, the game will run fine if you don't grant it admin rights.
Insane puzzles
The majority of the puzzles in this game can be solved with some patience and careful thinking, but there are a few that are so incredibly obtuse or involve unusually specific conditions that they drive players crazy. One example is the requirement to assemble the Owl Parliament: to do this, you'll need to locate several owls and talk to them. The problem is that you're supposed to infer that's what you need to do using very random and apparently unrelated clues. The most notorious puzzle in the entire game, however, is the clock puzzle. You can acquire four Anti-Cubes from it, but only at certain times. But I don't mean in-game times -- they reflect real times based on your system's clock. The catch is that each Anti-Cube is only available on certain units of time. One is based on seconds, another minutes, a third on hours, and the fourth runs on days.

Concerns and Issues

Gomez can be killed a few ways
While this isn't a violent game by any stretch of the imagination, there are a number of ways that Gomez can end up getting himself knocked out or otherwise killed. Falling too far (or off the level entirely) is probably going to be the most common cause of his demise, as it doesn't take that long of a drop to knock him out. Another common way to die is to get sucked into one of the black holes you've accidentally created. On the flip side, getting caught in an explosion just gives Gomez a brief shock.

That said, none of this is shown graphically nor is the player punished for letting him get hurt, as he'll just respawn somewhere nearby as if nothing had happened.
Creepy places
In order to find all of the Cubes and Anti-Cubes, you'll need to travel all over the strange world Gomez and his people live in. This will eventually include some creepier locations, such as ruins and a large graveyard. The latter seems to also be haunted, as ghostly specters can sometimes be seen when the lightning flashes.
A very minor detail
In the village's schoolhouse, there's a chalk drawing of the theory of block person evolution. It doesn't play a role in the story at all, but some people are quite sensitive to seeing references to the theory of evolution.