Tag Archives: notes

To comprehend Fez is to comprehend one of life’s greatest mysteries

As you might’ve seen recently, I beat Fez. Just to clarify one thing–I did not beat Fez recently, only posted recently that I beat it. Clarity on that is important, as I’ve had plenty of time now to ponder and muse over the indie darling that demands scrutiny and dissecting tools to really get under its skin. Supposedly, that’s where things get interesting. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t really know.

Before I start, a note: since I’m not sure what is what in Fez‘s world of cubes and shapes and shapely cubes and how you interpret things, any of the below could be considered spoilerish. Read at your own risk.

So, I reached Fez‘s “kill screen” by using 25 cubes and 7 anti-cubes to open the final door. Thankfully, I was able to get enough regular cubes by finding my way into the sewers, which a high number of people seem to miss on their first run, and therein the connecting levels to them; otherwise, I would’ve really had to put my thinking cap on to obtain most of those anti-cubes in order to proceed. I had treasure maps and a sliver of an idea for a few of them–but my attempts ended all the same: spinning that room, checking that map, trying a few random button sequences, and moving along after too many uneventful minutes.

Anyways, here are the notes I took while playing Fez:

I think I got close on a few things, but, more or less, it all looks Greek to me. I did my best to avoid looking answers up online while I was playing Fez, but in the hazy days afterwards I did stumble across some clearer clues, and to be honest, despite being an editor for nearly eight years now and priding myself on knowing English and idioms and the way language works–well, I’d never have figured this out. I’m just not familiar enough with that phrase.

I skipped the bell. I skipped the clock. I skipped the pyramid sitting in water, which clearly had some kind of hidden door below it. I skipped that treasure chest just beneath the ground, the one where you could only see its silhouette. I skipped that room with all the doors. I skipped all those weird pillars that your floating glowthing guide would point out in wonderment. I skipped that weird door that only revealed itself when the sun set. I skipped a lot of parts that seemed important, but were undecipherable, and I’m okay with that. Fez really is two games in one, and I appreciate that there’s a crazy complicated child in it, but prefer the straightforward runthrough over it. The platforming is adequate and quite simple, but the experience of entering a door, finding a new level, and learning how to climb up it via spinning was quite relaxing…and rewarding. Mostly because when you collected a whole cube, glorious beams of light and sunshine shot out of little Gomez.

After the “kill screen” craziness is over, you can start a New Game+ to go and find those bereaved cubes and anti-cubes. I jumped in out of curiosity and played around with one of the new abilities you earn for finishing the game once. It’s neat, but I’m not sure how it’s really going to help unlock more cubes. And that said, I just don’t think I’m going to go after ’em. Fez was a great experience to play part in, learning and not learning and trudging through it stupidly, but now that I know a few things–not everything, mind you–it just seems less fantastical. I wish I could’ve figured it all out on my own, but I’m not terribly distraught that I didn’t.

Find your way in Fez, go right here and do this in Metroid Fusion

Currently, I’m playing two videogames that are the polar opposites of one another: Fez and Metroid Fusion. Well, there are some ways they are similar. Both are platformers, asking the player to navigate rooms and levels, either by traversing left or right or up and down or via secret paths. Both feature relatively retro graphic styles that are pleasing to the eyes. Both have lackluster jumping, with Gomez feeling very floaty and Samus being too finicky. But that’s kind of it.

Otherwise, one game demands you put in the time and cranial crunching to figure out where to go next and what to do, and the other…well, there’s a computer program that marks your next destination and objective extremely clearly on your mini-map. One requires you to take notes, the other does it for you. One has electrified water, one has water levels you can raise and lower with a turn-switch. If you didn’t know which one is which, Fez is the open field of daisies and Metroid Fusion is the gust of wind pushing you down the path to the market.

I find both styles of gameplay pleasing and frustrating. Various reasons exist, of course. For Metroid Fusion, which I’ve been playing in small bits in bed before the Sandman takes me away, it’s been real nice to have a clear goal, a place to go to, a boss to kill, and a save room right after it. That’s not to say that, across the grand scheme of the Metroid franchise, it’s not disappointing to see such heavy hand-holding, especially when Super Metroid kept its distance from beginning to end, allowing the player to live and learn via trial and error. In Fusion, specially named Navigation Rooms fill out your entire map, whereas you once had to do that on your own. But it’s fine for now. The A.I. commander nicknamed “Adam”¬†¬†tells me what my next objective is, and if I somehow forget, I just click the objective button on the map and get refreshed. It’s linear and predictable, but the game was originally made for the GBA, which means it was designed to be played portably, and in that it is extremely successful.

In Fez, I wander. I wander, and I wonder. I spend a lot of time looking at walls, spinning rooms, jumping and spinning rooms to little effect. There is little instruction doled out, and even your floaty companion is little help, as it is just as cryptic as the alien-esque hieroglyphics. You see things that may or may not be important, and you move on, promising to return when you have further knowledge. At one point, I came to the conclusion that I needed to take notes, and these scribbles did little to explain the way of Fez‘s world, but it felt important, felt necessary. At certain places, such as the bell or the clock, my note-taking just felt stupid and pointless and that I would never understand what was probably right in front of my face.

I started writing this blog post on Wednesday and then managed to “beat” Fez last night. I found the “kill screen” by using 25 cubes and 7 anti-cubes (as well as a handful of treasure maps, one unused key, and one single artifact). I have some thoughts on all that, but I think I’ll save it for a separate post. Guess that’s another difference between it and Metroid Fusion; the latter isn’t special enough to warrant further thinking.