In between Two Dots and Liberation, I like to relax with a game called FEZ, a cutesy, indie, 3D platformer that seriously began messing with my depth perception. From their website:
FEZ is a game developed by POLYTRON. In it, you play as Gomez, a 2D creature living in what he believes is a 2D world.
Until a strange and powerful artifact reveals to him the existence of a mysterious third dimension!
That mysterious object being, well, a magical fez. After witnessing the literal destruction of his universe, the breaking of a giant golden cube that tears the space-time fabric and physically reboots your game, Gomez, with his magical hat that gives him the power to rotate the world so that different platforms can appear or disappear to help you scale the walls of this fantastical, multi-dimensional universe, is trying to collect cubes and cube fragments to restore his universe to its natural state.
The things I most love about this game
- The concept (how clever!)
- The art design
- The sound design and soundtrack
- Puzzles, puzzles, puzzles!!
And the things I like the least
- Some janky controls
- Presupposition of the player’s knowledge of Tetris
- It’s very, very easy to get lost
There are a lot of worlds, and smaller worlds, secret passageways, giant inter-dimensional portals, doors upon doors upon doors. About a quarter of the game, for me, is just keeping track of where the hell I ended up. Luckily, every completed world has a gold border around it, but that can make things even more infuriating if I can’t find the final door or treasure chest!
As for the Tetris thing, it is never more apparent that I am lacking in game knowledge when the sky is lit up with constellations in the form of Tetris shapes, which, apparently, correspond to buttons on a controller. Obviously I’ve played Tetris before, but never on a platform that requires a typical (i.e. XBox or PS) controller. Unfortunately, many cubes or secret doors can only be discovered by inputting the Tetris code that you’ve somehow translated, which is extremely frustrating for someone like me, who has never touched a controller until about two months ago. I’ve only made it this far due to a few very helpful walkthroughs on Steam.
The pros far outweigh the cons, in my opinion. The whole of it is essentially a love letter to 8bit games, from the art design to the sound design, and some of the puzzles are so insanely fun, I can get lost in the game for hours (this is also in part due to the aforementioned massive scale of the game). I’m very slowly advancing further through the game; I think I have about 24 or 25 cubes in total as of this blog post, and I’m definitely looking forward to the big finale.
The thing about the ending, though, is that I’m not sure it can live up to the beginning. As soon as Gomez puts on his fez and beholds the glory of the Third Dimension, the whole universe implodes. I’m not kidding when I say that the game literally reboots itself; when it happened to me, I almost had a heart attack, especially when it restarts with the exact same opening sequence – with one glaring difference, that being, you are now wearing a fez. And you can control your perception of space and time. It’s kind of creepy, to think that adding another dimension in a universe that can’t support it could actually shatter reality as we know it.
I would also like to direct people to this review and its discussion of the narratives of maturity and the Hero’s Journey within the game.