Yeah, I know…a little late to the party on this one. But… better late than never when it comes to a game that helps in the growth of our favorite hobby into one of overlooked stereotyped childish pastime by the masses, into art.
The masterwork of primarily one man (who is also one of the worlds biggest egotistical, whiny, manchild hipsters… this is not a rip on the man, but an observation of character, character that while eccentric and annoying, is exactly the type of mind and personality that could create such a fine postive example in the debate over games as art. For reference, watch Indie Game: The Movie Blu-ray, available on Netflix and on Amazon), Fez, is just short of brilliance.
The dawn of digital distribution ushered in by Valve with Steam, opened the doors to the Indie Developer Scene, providing the videogame industry with fresh ideas in gameplay, saving it from the near stagnation brought on by giants such as EA and Activision, who have been greying out the playing field with their cash cow annual updates of popular franchises. Often rushed to market to meet holiday spending deadlines, and to further insure the fattening of investor and stock holder wallets, new ideas and new Intellectual Properties often are never considered if a question of huge profit or lack thereof is presented. Fez, created almost entirely by Phil Fish, is a must play for any gamer. Fez continues to honor many age old traditions while breathing new life via current technology. Imaginative, huge to the point of almost overwhelming, and utterly charming are the ideas in gameplay presented, proving that a game need not cutting edge lifelike graphics, or violence of any kind, to provide a level of fun that not only challenges twitch reflexes, but teases the brain with its myriad puzzles and goals presented through a camera control of complete 360 degree rotation. Rotation necessary to navigate your way through this literal love letter to the old days of 8 bit style gaming, this control of camera for navigation is addicting, and a gameplay mechanic I hope to see as inspiration to future Indie Devs. Being able to solve an absolute stumper of “where do I, or how do I, get over there? by rotating the camera, and essentially rewriting physics is astounding. What was an impassible expanse on one angle, is now an interconnected path in the other. Brilliant. Brilliant. Brilliant.
Levels are interconnected via doorways and warp gates, and while sometimes confusing, this actually attracts rather than detracts from the navigation design. What connected in one passing of the level also often does not connect in another pass through, which is a great way to introduce the often groan inducing idea of backtracking some dev’s use to artificially create the idea of a game being larger than it actually is (looking at you Halo Reach), and in this design it encourages when catching a glimpse of an area you missed your first time through.
Fez -XBLA Trailer PAX East 2011
I could gush on for hours here, as many hours as I’ve been absorbed in Fez since installing it on my PC last night (each version is near identical, so take your pic on platform). Matter fact, I’ve Tab’d out of game while still running to write this, the whole while as I type anxious to finish so I can hop right back in and see where Mr. Fish’s labor leads me next. The industry needs more free thinkers, more people like Phil Fish. People who create under duress, strapped for cash, eating beef flavored ramen and loosing sleep… willing to bleed for what they love to keep it from becoming the next Hollywood…continually regurgitating the same on rail shooting brown people in a dusty third world location while spouting one liners and high fives mentality which has bled into gaming from big budget action films.
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Available on PC via any digital distribution outlet such as Steam Green Man etc., and Xbox Live Arcade for 800 MS points.