Gomez lives in a relatively flat world. Anybody he meets doesn’t utter more than a few words to him and everyone just kind of moseys back and forth. Gomez is stuck in this same situation, too. When the village elder grants him the gift of the almighty fez, Gomez’s life takes a dramatic turn for the better.
Not only is he suddenly important, but he can finally witness the world in multiple dimensions. Different angles and new shades are all bewildering to him. That distant island in the sky from his house can suddenly be skipped over to with a quick twist of perspective.
Fez is an interesting allegory for life. Sometimes everything can seem blissful until you look at it from a different angle. The reverse is true as well. If you are frustrated and cannot solve a problem, simply getting a new angle might change all of that.
Many of the solutions to puzzles in Fez are completely improvised. Instead of looking up a walkthrough and taking a set route, players just need to tinker with the camera until they finally see something click. Improvisation for a non-linear platformer is something that really hasn’t occurred in gaming before.
The soundtrack sells a lot of the crazy worlds. Most of the graphics appear similar, even with perspective warping, so players can easily get lost without trying. A confusing map screen doesn’t help problems, but the music fits a mood completely different from the last.
A graveyard towards the end of the game has ominous and dreadful music while an infinite waterfall is given mysterious life with a theme that sounds almost like 2001. Walking down towards the lighthouse, watching the sunrise and tuning in to some heavenly chorus is just grand.
A scale of adventure not unlike a Zelda game; Fez really does know how to appeal to the nostalgic side of gaming. Gomez jumps a bit like Mario. He’s very floaty and can be controlled mid-air. He thankfully learned to grab ledges (unlike his NES counterparts), so at least Gomez isn’t a total numbskull.
Gomez can even climb. Fez literally takes the best parts of Mario’s control scheme from Super Mario 64 and adapts them into a 2D realm. Nintendo hasn’t even taken Mario that far in his New Super Mario Bros. games. It’s interesting to finally get a game that acknowledges that characters should be doing more than just running and jumping.
For all of the mind-bending that Fez throws at players, the game does lack difficulty. Gomez can easily twist his way out of a fall, but even death doesn’t stop the short little guy. Falling from a great ledge just plays a rather cute animation and Gomez is back. If the guy ever gets depressed, he wouldn’t be able to act on it.
This sort of signifies how life shouldn’t be quit, though. I’m a very sad person and have often thought of a way out. When I see Gomez ever succumbing to failure, I have to take a step back and wonder if I should head his actions. Clearly giving up will lead to nothing but emptiness.
If Gomez were to quit, what would happen to his world? His family and friends would vanish and he will have failed everyone. A small thing like death isn’t going to prevent Gomez from accomplishing his task. Gomez likes to spit at the reaper.
Even if Fez isn’t the grand scale masterpiece that critics have been claiming, the game definitely mixes up enough genre conventions to feel wholly unique. It even provides a great space to just chill out and think about life.
Sometimes people create bigger problems than actually exist. If one simply turns his/her view of a problem into someone else’s mindset or re-evaluates the situation, any problem can be overcome. Surrendering to the burdens of life will get you nowhere, and fast.
Even if I don’t agree with a lot of what Phil Fish says, he definitely knows how to craft a game. Let’s just hope his next title doesn’t take an additional five years to finish.