You’ll feel like you’re done, but if you are “playing authentically,” taking notes, not turning to Google every time you play (though I did search larger blocks of translation early on, stick with it though and you get to where you can kind of read it), when you get the achievement for finishing the game, its obvious you are not done. Remember finishing Fable, or ACII maybe, both of those games allow you to continue to explore and complete objectives, but the game doesn’t live on after the final mission, whatever that may be; still beautiful, still peaceful due to your diligence, but a little dead, silent almost. I’m around 150% complete and 30 hours in and I just found the 64 cube door under the tree. The endgame, or “aftergame” only gets better, richer, the longer you spend with it the more alive it becomes.
The kind of depth Fez offers in akin to the earliest foundations of game culture, as if Phil Fish was frozen in time in the mid-eighties to be released a quarter century later with the ambition to make a game, only to realize the tools are space age compared to the 8-bit hammer and chisel they used to use, you build the tools yourself. Pixels sparkle and you can look behind them, you can use any color and make the music truly immersive. The art would be enough to bring Fez loads of positive attention, but the protracted post-game inspires patient completion, hermit qualities to avoid spoilers, worrying family members that find strange symbols written everywhere. The force of genuine complexity engenders in we Fezzians what the big shops are trying to accomplish through statistical research. Our dedication, loyalty, trust, and word of mouth. There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that if Phil Fish released another game he would likely become successful all over again. There are several cases to show we respect and trust indie devs for their thoroughness, Edmund with Isaac on the 3ds, Jon Blow with The Witness, even Fez’s own composer Disasterpiece (and company @HeartMachine) with Hyper Light Drifter.
Fez is a lot like The Witness in that you really can’t look up solutions, you have to participate. You have to learn; as soon as you look one thing up you are skipping something you should have figured out on your own. It turns into a scavenger hunt. Fish originally wanted us to draw our own map. Everything is part of the solution, those solutions are skills that you develop, not something you can forget on use. Fez would be too much for me if I took too much time away from it, reading the language became easier, and the tetromino code, even the map starts making sense (a little anyway, even Phil said it was probably the weak point of the game).
And none of this is by accident, at one point Polytron had their hyper interested following believing the game was strictly 2-D. When I bought it in 2016 I had no idea what I was in for. About ever 5-10 hours I spend in the game I have another major revelation about what it all means. No one is shocked that people are still looking for secrets.
I understand if the game isn’t your thing, it wasn’t mine either. But I do respect the revolutionary of it, so I picked it up. It is a deep game, I can’t stop telling people, and every time I say it I mean something different. While you are in the game you’ll lose time, I don’t know how much but the colors and sounds, the lore and little surprises, they will float you from major revelation to major revelation.
At around 180% I’ve almost found all I need to get into that 64 cube door. The owls are another thing, one of the last spaces for me to “clear” is where they gather. I got real excited when the third owl said something about “the 64-bit name of God and then I came back to their gathering place to find them there. They kept coming around, I thought, but it didn’t click until the third and I acted on a suspicion and saw them all there. I kept thinking I wasn’t far from finding the fourth, the owls and the mystery that surrounds them had me certain the eerie feeling you pick up playing Fez is due to their presence.
It was around this point that I revisited the Observatory as well, poking around for that last secret. I didn’t notice how the light and dark cycle effect what you see through the Telescope. The red dots on a lot of the wall hangings reminded me of the treasure maps. When I saw the blinking lights it was a literal rush, I had found the other secrets in the room, but there was a hint that is alike to others in the game, and of course totally different just like all the others. To find my first heart bits on my own changed the way I feel about Fez and games like it. Fez is one of the most fleshed out games I’ve played. 180% and still leaning into content to find the next thing.