What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that FEZ is an award-winning, independently developed downloadable game available only through Xbox Live Arcade that has players solving challenging puzzles rather than fighting enemies. Kids spend their time exploring a clever world that shifts between two and three dimensions, searching for golden cubes that will help them prevent reality from dissolving. The marshmallow-like protagonist doesn’t speak much, but through his player-controlled actions proves himself to be courageous and resourceful. Note that while there is little in the way of inappropriate content, the game’s complexity and difficulty make it best suited for older children.
What kids can learn
Thinking & Reasoning
- solving puzzles
- work to achieve goals
- achieving goals
- set objectives
Engagement, Approach, Support
Though not beautiful in a traditional sense, this low-fi game will capture players' imaginations with its beguiling worlds, which cleverly transform from two to three dimensions and back again.
Puzzles are baked in, with clues to solutions found not just in the world but within the story. Players won't be able to transfer what they've learned to the real world, but they'll make use of real-world experience while playing.
Some guidance is provided at the start, and the game tracks players' most important accomplishments. However, there's not much official support outside the confines of the game.
What's it about?
FEZ's champion is a marshmallow-like creature named Gomez who lives in a two-dimensional world. He and his fellow villagers are ignorant of the existence of a third dimension, blithely dismissing the concept of objects like cubes as pure fantasy. However, our pixel-y protagonist acquires a new perspective on things when he dons the game's titular tasseled hat, which allows him to rotate his once flat environment by 90 degree increments. Players flip through the world's four sides at the tap of a button, revealing a bounty of hidden doors, platforms, and ledges. The catch is that the world remains flat while viewed from any one side. Platforms hovering in front of or behind the plane on which our fluffy white hero stands become flattened and part of a single plane. Trying to use words to describe this inherently visual mechanic -- which is used to create a seemingly never-ending stream of clever environmental puzzles that must be overcome in order to complete your objective of collecting scores of golden cubes -- is difficult, but the game is surprisingly intuitive when experienced firsthand.
Is it any good?
There is no shortage of things to like in this long-in-the-making indie wonder. Its dimension-shifting shtick creates a wave of satisfyingly brain-breaking concepts that seems never to stop rising, making for a profoundly compelling puzzle/platforming experience. And it looks lovely. Its old-school, 16-bit aesthetic is composed of beautiful pixel art backgrounds and animations as well as a lush score constructed of surprisingly atmospheric retro bloops and bleeps.
The map system can be confusing, which makes it tricky to navigate the game's vast web of levels. And you can expect to run into a few annoying bugs -- always a risk when playing a game designed by just a handful of people rather than a large studio. However, scraping up against the occasional jagged edge is acceptable if it means getting to the next consummately-crafted bit of platform and puzzle play. Make no mistake; FEZ is something special.