Fez (video game)
Fez cover art by Bryan Lee O'Malley.
|Composer(s)||Rich Vreeland (Disasterpeace)|
|Release date(s)||Xbox 360
Fez is a puzzle/platform game developed by independent software developers Polytron Corporation. The game was initially announced by its creator, Phil Fish, on TIGSource.com on July 17, 2007. It was later announced that the game would come to the Xbox Live Arcade in early 2010, but it was pushed back. The game was released on April 13, 2012 for Xbox Live Arcade. A Microsoft Windows version became available on Steam and GOG.com on May 1, 2013, Mac OS X and Linux versions are currently in production, and Fish is working with Sony to identify potential releases to the PlayStation consoles or handhelds. Phil Fish and the later stages of development of Fez were featured in Indie Game: The Movie.
The plot of Fez revolves around Gomez, a two-dimensional creature who lives in a flat, 2D world. One day, Gomez encounters a strange and mysterious artifact called the Hexahedron, which gives him a magical fez hat that allows him to perceive a third dimension. Just as Gomez begins to explore his new ability, the Hexahedron suddenly fractures and explodes, causing the world around him to glitch up and freeze.
The game "reboots" and Gomez wakes up to find that he can now explore his world in three dimensions. A floating hypercube explains that he must collect the fragments of the Hexahedron, which have been scattered across the world, before the world is torn apart.
The goal of Fez is to collect 32 cubes, which have been scattered around the world, to rebuild the Hexahedron and restore Gomez's world before it is torn apart. Cubes and cube fragments are visible and can be collected by simply moving over them. Players can also collect 32 "anti-cubes" by solving various puzzles, many of which require some form of cryptanalysis. As the player collects cubes and anti-cubes, doors become unlocked and allow the player to access new areas.
Fez is presented as a 2D platform game in which Gomez can walk, jump, climb and manipulate objects. However, the player can shift perspectives at any time, rotating the world 90 degrees relative to the screen. This reveals doors and passageways and causes platforms to realign on the screen. Since depth is not a factor in the 2D gameplay, the player can (and must) take advantage of this mechanic to perform actions that would normally be impossible in a true 3D world. (For example, while standing on a floating platform, shifting the perspective 90 degrees allows Gomez to jump to another platform that had previously been on the opposite side of the screen. Rotating back to the original perspective after the jump reveals that Gomez has moved a great distance.)
Fez is noteworthy for its protracted development cycle, which was featured in the documentary film Indie Game: The Movie. It was first announced online in July 2007, and an early version was shown at the Independent Games Festival in 2008. It received high praise and thrust its creator, Phil Fish, into the limelight as an "indie developer celebrity". However, little was heard of the game for several years as Fish's company, Polytron, lost its funding and encountered legal problems, mainly due to Fish's business partner leaving the company and threatening legal action. Fish also encountered personal and family problems, and admitted that his perfectionism contributed to the game's delay, as did his loss of perspective over the game's merits and consumer demand.
Despite looming legal hurdles and technical difficulties, Polytron demonstrated the near-final version of Fez at the Penny Arcade Expo in 2011, again to near-universal praise. Fish gave several interviews (including one with Jerry Holkins of Penny-Arcade), while his new business partner (Ken Schachter) worked out a deal with the original business partner, ending the legal battle between them.
Polytron later announced that Fez would be released on Xbox Live Arcade in Spring 2012.
Xbox 360 patch 
After the Xbox 360 release in April 2012, Polytron released a title patch two months later that fixed several bugs in the game. Although the patch had been certified through Microsoft's testing process, some players discovered that it had corrupted their save files and forced them to start over. As a result, Polytron warned players against installing the patch if they had not already done so, and Microsoft eventually pulled the patch from its service.
In July of the same year, the patch was reinstated on Xbox Live without further modifications. In its announcement, Polytron explained that Microsoft had given them a choice of either fixing the save-state bug and having the patch re-certified, or placing the patch back on the service as-is. Polytron stated that the recertification process would have been prohibitively expensive (on the order of "tens of thousands" of dollars), and that it might have led to more problems that would be discovered later and require yet another patch. The developers estimated that less than one percent of players would be affected by the corruption bug, and Microsoft agreed that this percentage was too small to impact the original certification. Polytron and Phil Fish have received criticism for this decision.
Release on other platforms 
Fish stated that Fez would be ported to other platforms in 2013, though did not specify which ones. It was released on Steam for Windows on May 1, 2013, with a subsequent port to Linux and Mac OS X at an unspecified time. Fish is talking to Sony to determine a release for the PlayStation 3 or PlayStation Vita via the PlayStation Network. Fish has confirmed that there will not be a release of the game for the Nintendo 3DS.
The soundtrack in Fez was written and produced by Disasterpeace except where noted. It was released on April 20, 2012. Three tracks, Adventure, Forgotten and Home, were made available for free on Bandcamp to celebrate the game's release.
|Fez Soundtrack track listing|
|23.||"Continuum (an arrangement of Chopin's Prelude Op. 28, No. 4)"||2:35|
Upon release, Fez received widespread praise, with IGN giving the game 9.5/10. By June 2012 the Metacritic average was 89% reflecting several 'perfect' scores from other video game review websites.
Fez has sold more than 200,000 copies on Xbox Live Arcade.
Fez won the "Excellence in Visual Art" award at the Independent Games Festival in 2008, where it was also nominated for the "Design Innovation" award. It appeared at PAX Prime 2011 as one of the PAX 10, and won two awards, Story/World Design and Grand Jury, at IndieCade in 2011. It also won the "Seamus McNally Grand Prize" at the Independent Games Festival in 2012.
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