That’s where things go from complicated to… well, a lot more complicated. There are several languages in Fez composed of strange shapes and blocks that need to be deciphered, and while we found an in-game machine that told us how to crack one of them, others were more elusive. Fez will throw hints at you from time to time, but they’re always cryptic, never revealing fully their meanings without a lot of work on your part in decoding them. There are artifacts that we think help you crack some codes, and signs that might help solve some others, but they end up being tough puzzles in and of themselves.
It’s unlike anything we’ve ever experienced in recent memory. Deciphering a code on a page of crumpled paper on our coffee table and inputting it to reveal a new door – which would often lead to a web of new, connected rooms – was enthralling. These new areas might look like the rooms we’d explored before, or they might be wildly different, with unique art styles or new sound effects. Diving in to discover a new language carved into stone totems was like stumbling onto an ancient ruins or the remains of an alien planet, and learning their language was the key to delving even deeper.
This was as ambitious as it was dangerous. Gameplay difficulty is on a sliding scale and crossing over into “too hard” territory can wreck a game if not handled flawlessly. Fez navigates the line between challenging and brainbusting perfectly, dripping just enough information and giving the right amount of clues needed to progress.
The fact that only half of the game’s 64 cubes are needed to finish the game helps balance out this difficulty, though we were still set back from time to time by occasional glitches that got in the way of figuring out some of the puzzles. Fez doesn’t shy away from breaking the fourth wall and requiring you to go outside the game to solve puzzles, and it’s also not above the occasional fake-out glitch or surprise. Because of how eccentric the design is, it’s sometimes hard to tell when the game is providing another deceptively meta moment and when it’s honestly breaking.
The best puzzle games have the ability to make the player feel inversely smart and stupid. Fez takes this further than any game we’ve ever played, giving us the feeling of being both cackling genius and babbling idiot within minutes of each other. It’s an absolute triumph in creating something new both in terms of its platforming and its puzzle solving; blending together genres in ways we’ve never seen.
It’s about opening doors, exploring, deciphering languages, and dipping your toe into the well of insanity just enough to hopefully come out with the knowledge needed to open one more door, to get one more cube. We’re sure some will be turned off by the dense, unorthodox style – it’s absolutely not for everyone – but we’re in love, and expect to spend many more hours unraveling the game’s secrets.