The first time I played Fez was years after it came out. Years after the movie, the cancellation of Fez 2. Turns out I get to count myself lucky for getting to separate the game form the drama that surrounded it. to finally play it was great, the initial screen, the first bit before the world breaks, all the way to the end it was magical. Fez did everything right and if you’ve somehow found this writing piled up in the back of some cloud server searching for reasons to either play it or not, just get it.
Now when I say “all the way to the end,” I mean I finished the story, which is more ‘an’ end. ‘The’ end isn’t something I’ll reach on my own. It’s beyond me, METATRON, for real? That’s the most random thing to me, even in the world of Fez. Truth is I’ve read about how that puzzle was solved and I know there’s just no way I’d have ever solved it. I would have given up long before someone had the notion to use brute force.
As I’m writing this, I’m nearing 140%, almost 30 hours, and there has yet to be a single time I’ve sat down to play and been disappointed. Even after solving the letters and numbers, I get excited when I find somethig else to translate. With all there is to read about Fez I’ve still managed to read little enough outside of the game that I’m still hoping for clues to puzzles I’ve yet to solve. Just today I found and solved the puzzle associated with the burnt map page, still I haven’t figured out the secret, but just entering the tetromino code to have the dark piece float above me was a rush. Its those moments, and there are plenty, that has me savoring my current save game like I do the original Zelda I have saved on my 3ds (the only game I’ve played of Zelda 1). We’re all chasing something, I want the sensation of having figured it out mostly myself. Its a rare puzzle game that has me embracing such an ambition. 60 hours into trying for “no death” achievements for Super Meat Boy? No Problem. But puzzles aren’t ever my thing.
Fez though, turned me onto Braid, turned me onto The Talos Principle. I’ve even restarted Assassin’s Creed 2 because I know there are puzzles I left undone because “I hate that sort of thing.” Maybe its getting older but my appreciation for puzzles in a game at all have deepened greatly since Fez. It has forced my patience to mature the same way Super Meat Boy has focused my fine motor skills. I find myself taking a breath before a tough decision in my daily life. Its starnge to have my life affected so by a game.
To say nothing of the art would be wrong, but so much has already been said. What meaningful thing I have to say about the art alone could also apply to the game as a whole. Fez is the result of an artist that understands what it is to have craft. In its final form, what we have is the work of a man on his grind. I would have loved to be there as he called it “done.” But I also know that Phil Fish probably doesn’t see it as I do. After all the finese and detail I would imagine its hard for him not to see enough flaws to mean something. And something so personal as this game goes beyond flaws. It has flaws because it is so inseparably linked to its creator.