Also On: PS3, Xbox 360, PC
Publisher: Polytron Corporation
Developer: Polytron Corporation
I'm sure I've said this before, but I usually find it harder to write about games I don't like than games I do. This is mainly because when a game sucks, I can point to every little aspect of it that I hate, whereas when I love a game, it's more for the intangible joy that it brings me. How do you write about intangible joy?
Which brings me to Fez. I love it, and initially I thought it was going to be another case of not being able to put my finger on exactly what about it I loved so much. At some point, however, it hit me: those annoying little problems it's so easy to name in hard games? The fact a game like Fez doesn't have those is just as much a point in its favour as the flaws of platformers like Mutant Mudds or Cloudberry Kingdom or any of the zillions of other indie retro platformers out there are points against.
Or, to put it more simply, everything in Fez just works. Like in any other great platformer — as in the original Mario games, or the early Sonic games, or even the recent Rayman games — Fez's creators seem to have realized that the way to make your game good is to not hit players over the head with bells and whistles, but instead to just make the game seem as straightforward and easy to pick-up as possible.
Which isn't to say Fez actually is straightforward or easy. No, it's actually pretty tough. It expects you to think through your path through each level, to plan ahead and watch what you're doing. You're constantly expected to shift the world around you, to find ways forward without getting rid of the ground beneath you. It's a challenge, to be sure.
But, unlike too many other games of its ilk, Fez never lets its mechanics get in the way of its gameplay. You never feel as if you're fighting with the game to make anything happen. It's as if Polytron (and, I guess, the infamous Phil Fish) realized that their game would be hard enough without making you fight with the controls, too.
All that said, I do have one complaint to make: there are times when it's hard to tell where you're supposed to go next. You're racing around worlds full of doors that lead from one island to another, and it was awfully easy to lose track of where you'd already been and where you're supposed to go next.
But that's it as complaints go. Like I said, Fez deserves to be mentioned alongside some of the best platformers ever. I know I'm a little late in saying this, since the PC version was so roundly praised back in 2012, but if you're like me and you're only coming to the game now that it's branched off onto other platforms…well, don't wait another second. Download it right away, and get ready to be wowed.