Fez: A Game Within A Game
As far as Inception analogies go, Fez is the closest thing games have to offer up in comparison to the Christopher Nolan film. At surface level, Fez is just a decent looking 2D platformer with some flashy “rotate-the-screen” mechanics thrown in. You jump around and collect cubes and eventually reach your end goal, which is basically just someone popping up and saying, “Alright, it’s all cool now, you’ve collected a bunch of cubes, GAME OVER!”
However, this little XBLA release is much, much more. Fez players have discovered hidden, unexplained puzzles within the game. From your basic secret door, to an entirely new alphabet that has to be found and applied in game to unlock new content. Yeah, an alphabet. No, not our alphabet, Fez’ own, special alphabet the that developers fabricated all on their lonesome. There is no tutorial explaining it, and there is no warning whatsoever of a secret alphabet to unlock another half of the game. Fez just throws these secrets out at random, with blatant disregard for a learning curve or any sense of flow. It is determined to create its own meta-game, and has undoubtedly done so.
This alone may be explanation enough why Fez isn’t exactly what it seems, but it goes even further. Online forum communities have come together in order to solve and discover more and more of these hidden puzzles to the point that they have found ways to purposely crash the game in order to get a further completion rating. They have collectively traded information amongst each other in order to solve the impossibly complex and near unsolvable puzzles in what seems like every single room. This completion rating (as of right now, as the internet is constantly figuring new stuff out) is sitting at 206.3%, and we still have no idea whether or not this is the true end to Fez, or if we just didn’t stumble on the right pixel to unlock the next puzzle.
So, basically, what I’m saying is that the Fez developers are crazy as hell, and no one would have even known about the other half of this game without staring a little too long at an in-game chalkboard or looking in a couple key nooks and crannies. As the internet progresses, we have reached a point where we are simply stuck. Just that little old Fez, the seemingly harmless and simple platformer , has eluded the web for this long with its complex puzzles is beyond belief. Heck, we helped each other through Portal 2, and we can’t “finish” this indie platformer about a little dude named Gomez? My only hope is that other companies don’t try to copy this model of game-making, as a “hand-holdy”and tutorial covered Fez would be completely unappealing. As for now though, I will continue my quest to get the 206.3% completion, and watch those crazy geniuses figure out the hard stuff from a distance.