Fez: A Shift of Perspective

Gomez lives in a relatively flat world. The people he meets don’t utter more than a few words to him and everyone just moseys back and forth. Gomez is stuck in this same situation, too. When the village elder grants him the gift of the almighty fez, Gomez’s life takes a dramatic turn for the better.

Not only is he suddenly important, but he can finally witness the world in multiple dimensions. Different angles and new shades are all bewildering to him. That distant island in the sky from his house can suddenly be skipped over to with a quick twist of perspective.

Fez is an interesting allegory for life. Sometimes everything can seem blissful until you look at it from a different angle. The reverse is true as well. If you are frustrated and cannot solve a problem, simply getting a new angle might change all of that.

Many of the solutions to puzzles in Fez are completely improvised. Instead of looking up a walkthrough and taking a set route, players just need to tinker with the camera until they finally see something click. Improvisation for a non-linear platformer is something that really hasn’t occurred in gaming before.

The soundtrack sells a lot of the crazy worlds. Most of the graphics appear similar, even with perspective warping, so players can easily get lost without trying. A confusing map screen doesn’t help problems, but the music fits a mood completely different from the last.

A graveyard towards the end of the game has ominous and dreadful music while an infinite waterfall is given mysterious life with a theme that sounds almost like 2001. Walking down towards the lighthouse, watching the sunrise and tuning in to some heavenly chorus is just grand.

A scale of adventure not unlike a Zelda game; Fez really does know how to appeal to the nostalgic side of gaming. Gomez jumps a bit like Mario. He’s very floaty and can be controlled mid-air. He thankfully learned to grab ledges (unlike his NES counterparts), so at least Gomez isn’t a total numbskull.

Gomez can even climb. Fez literally takes the best parts of Mario’s control scheme from Super Mario 64 and adapts them into a 2D realm. Nintendo hasn’t even taken Mario that far in his New Super Mario Bros. games. It’s interesting to finally get a game that acknowledges that characters should be doing more than just running and jumping.

For all of the mind-bending that Fez throws at players, the game does lack difficulty. Gomez can easily twist his way out of a fall, but even death doesn’t stop the short little guy. Falling from a great ledge just plays a rather cute animation and Gomez is back.

This sort of signifies how life shouldn’t be quit. If Gomez were to quit, what would happen to his world? His family and friends would vanish and he will have failed everyone. A small thing like death isn’t going to prevent Gomez from accomplishing his task. Gomez likes to spit at the reaper.

Even if Fez isn’t the grand scale masterpiece that critics have been claiming, the game definitely mixes up enough genre conventions to feel wholly unique. It even provides a great space to just chill out and think about life.

Sometimes people create bigger problems than actually exist. If one simply turns his/her view of a problem into someone else’s mindset or re-evaluates the situation, any problem can be overcome. Surrendering to the burdens of life will get you nowhere and fast.

Even if I don’t agree with a lot of what Phil Fish says, he definitely knows how to craft a game. Let’s just hope his next title doesn’t take an additional five years to finish.

Briskly Walking “The Line”

So, that Spec Ops: The Line was quite the game, right?……..Right?…….Ugh, sometimes I hate being me.

Just the other day, I finished my journey through Dubai in what seems to be record time; 5 hours. I played on the hardest default setting, otherwise known as Suicide Mission. This game was far from that.

While I found the narrative very ambitious and intriguing, Spec Ops: The Line seems to run at breakneck speed through all of its high points. I mean, in the first hour alone, I conquered 5 of the games 15 chapters. They get considerably longer after that point, but I hadn’t even realized how little time I had spent.

I have no problem with games being short, but I just feel a little short changed here. This game was touted as having a very deep and complex narrative and most of the anecdotes I’ve heard from gamers are how affecting they felt the games “decision” scenes were. I saw them so close together; I don’t even know how the hell I’m supposed to think.

This contrasts with Hotline Miami, another game that brings up questions of violence and does so in an even shorter time span than Spec Ops. I managed to plunk through that little gem in about 3 and a half hours, but the pacing worked much better.

Some missions gave some breathing room in terms of combat and there was even a break from the constant murder for a stealth mission (even if that level was a little crappy). Hotline wasn’t a constant bloodbath and it worked to make me more interested in the combat and plotline.

Spec Ops, though, doesn’t give you a single minute to reflect on anything. Even the cutscenes aren’t that long, with the longest probably being around 6 minutes. You simply deal with a firefight, walk to the next room and repeat. When a decision comes up, you make it in a snap fashion and then proceed to shoot some more.

I can’t say I was disappointed with the game (and I got it for dirt cheap, so how could I truly be?), but I feel like it would have been a greater story if I was just given more time to explore it. Let me sink in the details of the game’s world, let me reflect on my awful actions and give me periods that help build character instead of pushing me directly into the action.

One of the best moments in Uncharted 2 comes during chapter 16. After practically non-stop action, Drake finds himself stranded in Nepal. The only task for the chapter is to walk around and soak in the sights. This gives you ample time to think about how you arrived at this location and reflect on what Drake has gone through.

NaughtyDog understood that packing a game with minute to minute firefights would sully the experience and leave the gamer wishing for a break. While you don’t want to have too much time dedicated to simply doing nothing, even just the smallest amount of leisure or padding can create a sense of relieve and a desire to continue.

For all the flack the Zelda series may get for sidequests and lack of innovation, the padding in that series really drives home the desire to press on. The early games in the series (namely Zelda 1 and 2) suffer because there is nothing else to do. You simply proceed with quest or you don’t play the game. Without any break of alternate activity, the quest feels long winded (even being only an hour!).


This is completely related to saving the Princess…trust me!

So honestly, while I won’t deem a game of lower quality because it’s short, some titles need extra game time to justify their existence. I can’t sit here and whole-heartedly recommend Spec Ops: The Line because I feel like it’s incomplete. It’s too damn short and leaves too much unexplained.

If I only simply had more time to feel the anguish that Captain Martin Walker was going through, maybe I’d be in love with the game. As it stands, it’s a very ambitious experiment, but one that ultimately doesn’t feel as impactful due to a sense of being rushed.