FEZ is a game I got years ago, but was unable to play until now because it used a really specific graphics renderer that wasn’t supported by my crappy hardware. Now that I finally have a proper graphics card, I decided to try it out.
The premise of FEZ is that it’s a puzzle platformer where you move in 2D but can rotate the environment in 3D. This allows you to use perspective tricks like bridging platforms that are far apart at one angle but close together at another.
Unfortunately, this is not the actual gameplay of FEZ.
About halfway through the game, after you get all the easy collectibles that are solved through perspective puzzles, the game completely changes. All the remaining puzzles are absurdly tedious and obtuse, and mostly revolve around decoding ciphers that will tell you the solution outright. As in literally, the solutions are just sequences of button presses. After a few hours of flailing I gave up and just looked up the answers, most of which still had me boggling. (One puzzle is so bad the community had to brute-force it, and to this day they still don’t know what the intended logic was supposed to be.)
The cipher keys are generally very poorly integrated and not signposted at all — you are supposed to look at a fox jumping over a dog (in an area full of other wildlife that is otherwise irrelevant to gameplay) and make the leap that the stone tablet of moon runes next to them says “the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog”. You are also somehow supposed to realize that the numbering runes can represent the same number through multiple different systems, the only hint for which requires you to assume a series of moon runes is an arithmetic equation and also to assume that the symbol at the end means “10”. (And also that the writing system is top-to-bottom, and and and…) The game asks you to take way too many leaps of logic without any indication of if you’re going in the wrong direction.
Oh, and to developers everywhere: A puzzle that requires you to sit in place and wait for something to happen is not a puzzle, it’s just a waste of time. Stop doing this.
Now, this isn’t to say that there’s something inherently wrong with cipher puzzles. (Well, provided they don’t force you to crane your head 90 degrees for some ungodly reason.) But if you say your game is a puzzle platformer and it’s actually a cipher game, that’s false advertising and makes me very annoyed with you.
Overall, this game reminded me a lot of The Witness — it had an interesting concept of learning through observation that it proceeded to get bored of after five minutes and then spend the rest of the playtime pretending to be far more clever than it actually is.