Zero Distraction / An Anthology of Examined Nerdy Things, by Alex Knight

Initial thoughts on Fez

Fez video game cover art

Fist pumping the air, enraged like an unfed Gorilla, I’ve come close on several occasions to tossing my Vita against the wall while playing Fez (more on that after the break). Stylistically, I’m in love with the retro look. The game really sets itself apart from other nostalgia inducing platformers with its unique three-dimensional plane, which works by allowing the player to change perspective (literally you rotate the world). It can take a while to get used to it, but it really keeps things interesting. Suddenly places you thought were unreachable, suddenly become accessible with a shift of perspective. It’s all rather brilliant.

Fez is a platform puzzle game, akin to some of the most challenging ones you may have played in the 80s. There are many secrets, treasures, and artifacts to find, and you don’t need to solve every single puzzle to finish the story. I’ve reached the 76% completion point. In desperate search for all the cube and anti-cubes I can find, just so I can open the next door, sometimes it seemed like I’ve searched the same level before, only I hadn’t. I’ll concede that this game is not what I’d consider easily approachable. The level of difficulty for some of the puzzles are incredibly frustrating. I had a peek at a FAQ to try to solve a puzzle that made zero sense to me, and after reading the solution, I realize that I never would have figured it out myself. It turns out I’m not alone here, and this makes me happy, because when a game is annoyingly difficult, it not only makes me not want to play it, but it also makes me feel like I’ve managed to miss something that was crucial to the progression at an earlier point. On a somewhat tangential note, I don’t believe any gamer should feel like their only recourse is to reload an old save point, due to the developer allowing the player to miss something important.

Most games I play contain varying degrees of challenge. Don’t misunderstand me, I do like a good challenge, otherwise what’s the point? I enjoy puzzles and being placed into situations that force me to think creatively about how to get out of them. From what I gather about some of the puzzles in the Fez, the author intended it to be very hard at times. I think they went too far. Perhaps it’s my age, but I want a moderate level of challenge, engaging story line, and interesting characters that I’ll remember for years to come. It doesn’t even have to be a cinematic title, such as 2013’s Tomb Raider reboot (definitely my favourite game released last year). I’ll play most games, as long as they’re reasonably demanding. The only genre I never really got into were RTS and MMORPGs. I’ve given them honest cracks, but I’ve always found them too much of an investment in time and resources. I’m still ambivalent about JRPGs as I don’t have much experience with them. I abandoned Persona 4 Golden for a while after getting stuck on a boss battle that seemed nigh impossible (I may get back to it and compile my thoughts on it and the genre as a whole).

I will likely continue to play through Fez and will see if I can complete it. It seems nuts to get this far in the game and just give up. There are so many aspects to like about this game, including the superb soundtrack (which you should buy on iTunes now if you haven’t already). If you’ve played it and have had a polarizing experience, I would be interested in hearing about it.