Fez (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Albert Lichi 08.06.2022

Review for Fez on Nintendo Switch

When Fez came out in 2012, it was overshadowed by the controversy of its creator, Phil Fish. To this day, there are many gamers who won't ever give Fez a chance due to the insufferable comments and views of its designer. The disdainfully charged and utterly disrespectful attitude Fish displayed towards his audience and Japanese game designers, made it difficult for everyone to take him and his creation seriously. Despite his colourful personality, Fish was one of the early trailblazers on the indie game scene during the early 2010s and got Fez on the Xbox Live Arcade. Eventually, Fez got ports to Sony consoles, but his game never escaped the controversy he created. It followed him until he gave up and left the industry entirely, cancelling the sequel along with his departure, and to this day still antagonizes gamers. One question still remained: was Fez deserving of the scorn earned by its creator? Cubed3 unearths the truth behind the Nintendo Switch conversion of it.

Fez is a game utterly focused on geometry and perfection. That is not to say it is perfect, but "perfection" seems to be an underlying theme. Simple shapes, dimension and patterns are fetishized and emphasized. Structure is almost like some kind of divine design, and the game's designer wanted to share this appreciation with the player. It is no coincidence that the story takes inspiration from Edwin A. Abbott's novella, Flatland; a story about two-dimensional square who embarks on a journey, and discovers the third dimension.

Fez is about Gomez, a 2D game sprite who acquires a fez that endows him with the ability to rotate his two-dimensional world as if it were 3D. This metaphor for a youth gaining new perception on the world as he grows into adulthood is fitting for a video game hero's call to adventure. Gomez quest is full of ominous and extremely cryptic imagery that is set to a soothing and alien synth score. His sole companion is a fourth dimensional tesseract, a character who exists to exposit tutorial information, but also emphasize a point about Gomez being 2D and effectively breaking the laws of nature by going to 3D. This is a title of many dimensions, and playing it with a 2D-mindset will not get anyone very far at all.

Fish devised some truly diabolical spatial puzzles using a single gimmick of rotation. At its core, Fez may just be a simple 2D platformer with no real threats, but the main gameplay involves twisting space around so that Gomez can collect golden cubes. Collecting enough of these opens up doors to new and increasingly challenging areas that yield yet more golden cubes. The deeper Gomez goes, the more foreboding the atmosphere becomes, as if his world is beginning to break down from space ripping itself apart.

Screenshot for Fez on Nintendo Switch

The structure of Fez is not far off from being considered a metroidvania. Instead of power-ups, Gomez simply gathers collectibles to progress, which greatly frees up the game. Much of the experience is non-linear, and anyone can explore the various areas in a variety of ways. The lack of hand-holding truly reinforces the spirit of adventure and discovery. There is no telling what Gomez and Dot may discover. Is there an apocalyptic prophecy hidden in these strange runes? The in-game language made up of tetrominos apparently does have meaning, and it is possible to uncover a translation, if anyone is willing to put the time into it. This is dense with many cryptic secrets like this and it makes the game feel so much bigger than it actually is.

Some puzzles are so complicated, that they require higher understanding of mathematics. Thankfully, not all of the collectibles in the game are required to beat the first play-through. New Game+ opens things up, and introduces a separate mechanic that involves seeing the world from Gomez's point of view. It becomes easier to appreciate the amount of work and care put into the level design when looking at the environments from this

perspective. The post-game content of Fez is where it goes from being a decent indie-platformer, to becoming a great one.

It is hard to fault this for being completely dedicated to a singular idea, but it does come off as one-note. Sometimes it can be on the boring side since there are almost no stakes, and Gomez is never penalized for anything. Failing a jump instantly spawns him at the last stable surface. There are no other threats in the game other than some nasty lava or black holes which are more like obstacles. Maybe having enemies like in a Kirby game would have been too traditional, but without some variety, Fez is best played in doses.

Fish may not speak highly of Japanese developed games, yet his creation is very clearly influenced by titles from the land of the rising sun. There are subtle and blatant cues from all kinds of classic Japanese games, like various Zelda instalments, Super Mario, and, of course, Cave Story[i/]. Why Fish would be so eagerly to disparage an entire nation that was instrumental in inspiring the creation of [i]Fez may be the biggest secret in his game. The man may be intensely abrasive, but credit must be given for how much effort and care he put into his project. He cut no corners and devised puzzles that would put Myst to shame. There is nothing lazy in Fez and Phil Fish legitimately made one of the best puzzle-platformers available on modern consoles.

Screenshot for Fez on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Fez is a very easy-going experience for the most part, but it is also very capable of presenting a diabolical challenge to anyone looking for one. The descent to an otherworldly nightmare glitch-world is something that is not often done in video games, yet it makes a lot of sense; especially for something that focuses on a theme of perception and dimension. While the creator of Fez may have his issues, his game has very few and is very pleasant to play.

Developer

Publisher

Polytron

Genre

2D Platformer

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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