"My god; It's full of stars": the final words of fictional astronaut Dave Bowman in the film 2001: A Space Odyssey. A line in which the true meaning of is a point of contention between audiences and film critics alike. What did it mean? Was it literal or metaphorical? What was revealed to Dave and by whom? The film on its surface does not offer any obvious answers, but a select few believe the answers are littered throughout the film in meta form.
Fez is game that not only refrences the aforementioned film, but seeks to emulate its artistic grandeur with a colorfull sci fi backdrop and a meta story of its own. There are no obvious answers here, no frame by frame explanation of events with obvious narration…no. There is only Gomez and the world he inhibits.
The game opens rather innocuosly with Gomez (the two dimensional creature you inhibit) being led to a specific spot in his villiage where a secret of his universe is revealed to him. Gomez recieves the Fez which is a symbol of his new perspective on reality and where the game earns its title. It is also at this point where players descover their ability to shift the world left and right (as if it were a cube), and where the only objective in the game is clearly spelled out: Get all of the cubes littered throughout the world. The game faux crashes and restarts with your new ability, and the adventure begins
Now I could spend the rest of this review retreading old ground talking about how the game opens up and lets you decide where to go and when, the geometry puzzles ect. However, so much of what makes FEZ such a special experience has nothing to do with the obvious. Fez does the same thing games like Demon Souls do without kicking you in the balls a million times to do so. Which is, the more you put into FEZ, the more you get out. Sure you can make it to the "end" without doing most of the work, but your experience will be muted (none the less valid though).You will have had a strange but fun gaming experience without any of the narrative contex required to fully understand the events that transpired.
This is not a knock against the game, for me at least. No, this is the most important feature in the game. Reward: hard work does not go unrewarded in FEZ. There's a whole language in FEZ made of tetrinos (one of many nostalgia bits in the game) which one could decifer, if one were so inclined. The discovery is subtle, so subtle, that most players don't realize they have made it when it happens and when they do, they will discover what makes the game so special.