My son's video game FEZ is out today, Friday the 13th.
It's been five years in the making. A very difficult five years. His travails are chronicled in the 2012 Sundance award winning "Indie Game - The Movie" (showing next month in NYC.)
It won an Independent Games Festival award in its prototype form in 2008 and won the grand prize, the Seumas McNally Award earlier this year. And just about everywhere it's been shown during the past year. The game has been bathed in controversy - my son is an outspoken and very opinionated young man - but has since received glowing reviews for its art direction, its originality and the depth of its puzzles. Edge, Wired, Kotaku, GiantBomb, Joystiq... it has taken all gaming media by storm. It looks like it's going to be an all-time indie bestseller. I'm not making this up!
The amazing thing is that the game is the work of two guys in a garage, my son the designer and his programmer friend, Renaud Bédard. From scratch and against incredible odds - technological, human and financial. If you are so inclined, Renaud's IGF conference (a very entertaining PDF) on the technical underpinnings of the game will give you an idea of the depth and complexity of this strange puzzler.
Why is the game so special - other than being my son's =) ?
This review of the game can explain its peculiarity and it's look and feel better than my words ever would:
Can it get more amazing? Incredibly, yes.
The cover art was designed by Brian Lee O'Malley, creator of the graphic novel series Scott Pilgrim - geeks will know who that is - the best character animators in the indie scene have collaborated and the soundtrack is designed by chiptune celeb Richard Vreeland. The pre-order of the official FEZ soundtrack has been a top seller on Bandcamp since it's been out this past Tuesday!
Let me finish with this Game Informer review:
Whether it’s the subtle shifts in lighting during the day and night cycle of a level, translating seemingly meaningless symbols into meaningful clues, or even paying attention to the specific vibrations of your controller, Fez challenges players to think and see in new ways. It’s a puzzle game with genuine moments of revelation and subtlety, and deserves all the acclaim it will undoubtedly receive.
And this from USA Today:
In a video game world that seems littered with sequels and online passes, it's wonderful to see developers still embrace originality and creativity through games like Fez.
Developer: Polytron Corporation
Platform(s): Xbox 360
Rating: E for Everyone
Release Date: April 13
Score: 3.5 stars (out of 4)
This is the new trailer released this morning:
I'm playing the game now (yes, I have an XBOX console =) and it's all what people say about it!. Mind-boggling! And hyper-pretty. I can't believe the depth and the layers of difficulty. How carefully thought out is everything. The game cons you into taking notes, making diagrams, using pen and paper.
...I'm not bragging =)
That is great!
The plot of Fez begins when a two-dimensional character living in a two-dimensional world suddenly realizes that just beyond his perception lies a third dimension, filled with unexplored wonders and mystery. While it may have lacked the elegant mechanics, devious puzzles and brilliant audiovisual style of the video game, a 19th-century text by Edwin Abbott presented a story and world that is in many ways similar — a kind of spiritual prequel to the transdimensional tale dreamed up by Polytron.
This text was Flatland, a romantic satire written by Abbott in 1884 as a critique of the rigid, class-based social structure of Victorian England. Using geometric figures of varying complexity to represent different members of the Victorian hierarchy, Abbott's descriptions of a flat world given new perspective by a three-dimensional outsider, and specifically his postulation of a fourth dimension, eventually made their way into Einstein's theory of relativity. Then, in 1980, Carl Sagan famously demonstrated a thought experiment inspired by Abbott's Flatland on his legendary television program, Cosmos.
It's a challenging and fascinating concept: just as a cube can be drawn on a flat sheet of paper, consider that, to the inhabitants of a two-dimensional world, a three-dimensional being could only be perceived partially, as a two-dimensional "shadow" of its true self. Thus, a hypothetical four-dimensional being or object could only exist in our world as a three-dimensional projection.
Yet another review. And I'm amazed at the degree maturity and articulation of these games critics.
The game is now in it's first week and a worldwide critical success (with a score of 90/100 on Metacritic)
The Guardian (blog) - 8 hours ago
A rare game indeed, then. Fall from too great a distance and Gomez, the fez-wearing protagonist, will crumple in brokenness, only to be returned alive and ...Blog: Hats off to Fez, a game of many dimensions (review) San Jose Mercury News (blog) Fez Review for XBLA Gaming Age Fez review [Xbox 360] BeefJack GamersDailyNews- Attack of the Fanboy all 11 news articles »
FanBolt.Com - 1 day ago
It's actually the premise of Polytron's debut game. Available on Xbox Live Arcade for 800 Microsoft Points, Fez is an open world 2D-ish puzzle platformer, ...In-Depth: Review: Phil Fish's 'Fez' is an indie passion project worth playing Globe and Mail Review: 'Fez' a riveting retro treat USA TODAY Indie Jeff's Weekly Pick: Fez Shacknews VentureBeat- Digital Spy all 31 news articles »
WhatCulture! - 10 hours ago
The gorgeous 2D/3D mind-bending platformer Fez was released last Friday. Unfortunately, with many games that don't have the luxury of being tested by the ...
by Mike Shelton · More by Mike SheltonFEZ patch coming soon GameZone Fez Devs Say They're Working to Fix Game-Crashing Bugs Kotaku Fez is buggy – but it's getting patched. Lazygamer Joystiq all 8 news articles »
Eurogamer.net - 2 hours ago
Toms Champion and Bramwell are joined by Oli "gaming's Andrew Marr" Welsh this week to talk about the progressively less snappily titled Fez, ...
Ars Technica - 4 days ago
By Kyle Orland | Published April 13, 2012 12:30 PM It's hard to think of an indie game that has had more prerelease buzz and attention than Fez.
YouTubeIn-Depth: Fez review Digitaltrends.com FEZ Review – Shifting Your Perspective Piki Geek Blast- Paste Magazine all 44 news articles »
Hey thanks! Some I hadn't seen yet =)
Get Over Here and Play a Video Game
Acclaimed indie platformer just ahead of Skullgirls.
Rapturously received indie platformer Fez has entered the weekly Xbox Live Arcade chart at number one.
Ubisoft's survival adventure I Am Alive is holding up well in third place, perennial seller Pinball FX2 is at four and Gotham City Impostors is showing some legs at five.
Here's the full top 20:
Now, for added perspective, here's a bad review of FEZ.
And now for good measure, one of the best-written if very short review of the game I've read so far, in Forbes.
By Dave Thier, Contributor
Phil Fish lived in the world of Fez for five years. There were other people involved, but for the most part it was Fish, sitting in some basement, obsessively scribbling out walls, platforms, puzzles and alien languages in the increasingly elaborate nightmare that was the game he at some point intended people to play.
When Fez finally hit the Xbox Live marketplace last week, there was more hype swirling around than for any indie game I can remember. But the game that came out was just as perplexing as the press that preceded it, defying attempts at validation or condemnation. It wasn’t revelatory, it wasn’t life-changing, it was just entrancing. Most games are paced in beats, like a movie or a play — checkpoint to checkpoint, setup and payoff. Fez was just one long uninterrupted moment.
At the beginning of the game, Fez’s in-game map is a terrifying mess. It’s all hexagons running into each other with symbols that make no sense. Warp gates don’t take you where you expect. That door might lead into a room, a level, or an entire world. You’re chasing rabbits down tunnels, never sure how far any of them will go.
Gradually, you piece it together. Here goes into here, this is a hub world, this is a smaller hub world, etc. The game is all about changing your perspective to get a better look at things — gradually you turn the camera enough times that you gain the ability not just to jump on new platforms but to draw straight lines through the warped synapses of Phil Fish’s mind.
Fez has been called an art game, but that title doesn’t mean anything. Fez is an artist game, which more than any other title on the market puts you face to face with its inscrutable maker and demands you figure out what he’s thinking.