I finally played FEZ last night on Steam and my expectations were modest; based only on what I had seen in Indie Game: The Movie and the elevator pitches of other gamers. I also heard that it was a game of exploration-something I love.
As soon as I began walking through the FEZ universe it was obvious that the developer had higher standards than most.
Let’s get specific with a bulleted list!
Many games use a SNES-inspired aesthetic but the ususal result is inconsistently pixellated sprites mismatched with an unlimited number of colors and “some chiptunes track” playing in the background. In FEZ the visuals have a beautiful color palette and specific style and the retro visuals are actually part of the story and gameplay. The music is original, purposeful and helps create an atmosphere.
The platforming is fun! Which is rare thanks to the floaty physics we have apparently accepted as the norm. The jumping feels right and the level design accents the control perfectly.
That’s another thing, great level and game design! You are slowly introduced to a modest set of mechanics that you follow like a trail of bread crumbs to the next satisfying reward. The level design introduces new experiences as the easily-grasped and fun control stays the same. This is how it’s done!
A sense of mystery without question marks: The game explains how it works through level design and via conversation with a little helper. It’s not overdone and it never takes control away from you. But, there is mystery in the world, the characters and the conversation. You will stumble upon things and not know what and why they are. Your imagination will fill in the gaps and euphoria will flow through your body like a delicious gravy (maybe this was just my experience). Books are loved because of the information you are not given.
I’ll update the post if this opinion changes but my first time with FEZ left me wondering: Why do so few indie games have this level of quality?