Fez is creating quite a stir.
Prior to it’s official release, it received several prestigious awards in the gaming community, generating a lot of hype.
The most attractive feature of Fez is it’s usage of 16bit art to create a completely new style. The developers combined stylistic techniques from classic games and translated them to fit newer technology. With this merging, a completely new sort of game is born. Fez shows us that a 2D game combined with 3D game elements creates a totally new perspective for the player, one that had not really been recognized: the idea of a hidden dimension.
The Paper Mario franchise did work with this idea a bit, as you play on a flat surface (think the original Mario games) that you can turn sideways (3D) to reveal hidden secrets. However, Fez forces you to interact with both dimensions on a level far beyond what Paper Mario tried to do. The amount of time you “hop” “dimensions” in Fez is much greater than the times in Paper Mario. Paper Mario also knew of it’s inherent existence on both levels; the characters (some of them) were made aware of the presence of a third dimension and accepted it as part of their reality. The characters in Fez appear blissfully unaware of the amount of complexity that exists in their world. This creates an important discourse for the player.
Fez asks us to challenge our notions of reality, it creates a plausibility for things that cannot be seen. In the game we are forced to use this knowledge in order to advance.
One can only assume that the code behind this game goes far beyond what it appears. To take a flat surface and turn it sideways every five seconds or so would definitely be a challenge for anybody. After reading some of the lead programmer’s blog entries on the topic, my suspicions were confirmed: there is a LOT to take into account when you’re shifting 2 dimensional planes around. It took the team a good five years to fully complete it, which says a lot about it’s complexity.
But what makes Fez so intriguing is that it really doesn’t look all that complicated on the surface. It’s very tongue-in-cheek about it’s actual complexity, a lot of which I think has to do with it’s retro look. Fez’s unique style combined with it’s frankly insane code creates a whole new landscape of opportunity for gaming.