‘Fez’ is a Very Personal Puzzle Game

Fez is a puzzle game built around the idea that people’s minds all work differently.

Fez is a easily the most personal puzzle game that I’ve ever played. It’s not personal because it “spoke to me” in any way, but because the biggest puzzle in Fez is figuring out what you know and what you don’t know. This is a puzzle game built around the idea that people’s minds all work differently.

The game, in my mind at least, is split into three layers:

The first layer is the perspective shifting puzzle. This is what you solve to progress in the game. In other words, basic exploration is built on this puzzle. You’ll find cube bits that make up full cubes that unlock doors to more hub worlds, and you can get through most of the game by focusing only on this first layer. However, the final cube bit is hidden behind a rather obtuse puzzle that is not apparent if you are only focusing on this first layer. In this way, Fez nudges you over the edge, down to the second layer of puzzles.

The second layer is where the magic/craziness begins. This is where you’ll encounter such a variety of puzzles that it’ll make your head spin: more perspective puzzles, language puzzles, pattern recognition puzzles, sound puzzles, number puzzles. This is where the bulk of the game takes place.

The third layer isn’t necessary to beat the game, once or twice. You reach this point when you start translating the language, learning about the mythology of Fez. The previous layers were purely mechanical. The third is reserved for a surprisingly rich bit of world building -- and more puzzles, of course, but these are puzzles within puzzles within puzzles.

Since the game presents its puzzles in such a wide variety of ways, at some point you’ll inevitably come to one that you can’t figure out. Not because the logic behind the puzzle is too obtuse, but because you just aren’t good at that type of puzzle. You’re good at language puzzles, and this is a number puzzle or vice versa.

It’s after looking up the answer that you can really begin to appreciate the complexity of Fez's world, because despite the variety of puzzle types, there is a consistent logic behind them. After looking up several puzzles, I thought, “I’d never figure that out,” but I never thought, “No one could ever figure this out.”

It is this consistency of logic that makes Fez feel personal rather than cheap or gimmicky. It doesn’t just throw random puzzles at you, The logic behind a sound puzzle is the same as the logic behind a pattern puzzle. By solving one, the game has given you a hint for solving the other, and the only real hurdle is whether your mind can connect those same dots once their presentation changes.

I learned something about myself playing Fez: I’m good at recognizing patterns as long as those patterns are obvious. In other words, I can’t see patterns hidden in everyday objects like posters or paintings. The “Tetris pieces” quickly clicked for me, but those owls... man... I never would have figured that out. But I’m sure someone else could.

To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.

Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

Keep reading... Show less

Very few of their peers surpass Eurythmics in terms of artistic vision, musicianship, songwriting, and creative audacity. This is the history of the seminal new wave group

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominating committee's yearly announcement of the latest batch of potential inductees always generates the same reaction: a combination of sputtering outrage by fans of those deserving artists who've been shunned, and jubilation by fans of those who made the cut. The annual debate over the list of nominees is as inevitable as the announcement itself.

Keep reading... Show less

This film suggests that all violence—wars, duels, boxing, and the like—is nothing more than subterfuge for masculine insecurities and romantic adolescent notions, which in many ways come down to one and the same thing.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) crystalizes a rather nocturnal view of heterosexual, white masculinity that pervades much of Stanley Kubrick's films: after slithering from the primordial slime, we jockey for position in ceaseless turf wars over land, money, and women. Those wielding the largest bone/weapon claim the spoils. Despite our self-delusions about transcending our simian stirrings through our advanced technology and knowledge, we remain mired in our ancestral origins of brute force and domination—brilliantly condensed by Kubrick in one of the most famous cuts in cinematic history: a twirling bone ascends into the air only to cut to a graphic match of a space station. Ancient and modern technology collapse into a common denominator of possession, violence, and war.

Keep reading... Show less

Here comes another Kompakt Pop Ambient collection to make life just a little more bearable.

Another (extremely rough) year has come and gone, which means that the German electronic music label Kompakt gets to roll out their annual Total and Pop Ambient compilations for us all.

Keep reading... Show less

Winner of the 2017 Ameripolitan Music Award for Best Rockabilly Female stakes her claim with her band on accomplished new set.

Lara Hope & The Ark-Tones

Love You To Life

Label: Self-released
Release Date: 2017-08-11

Lara Hope and her band of roots rockin' country and rockabilly rabble rousers in the Ark-Tones have been the not so best kept secret of the Hudson Valley, New York music scene for awhile now.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.