Critical Play: Puzzles- Fez

For this critical play, I chose to play “Fez,” which was developed by Poltroon corporation, on the Nintendo Switch. From what I can tell, there is nothing to keep children from playing Fez aside from the difficulty of the puzzles. I would say that the target audience is older children to adults. 

I played Fez a little longer than I should have (about 4 hours) because I thoroughly enjoyed it. I think that the mechanics of this game added to the types of intended fun: discovery and challenge. 

Fez centers around a character, Gomez, that lives in a 2D world. He suddenly discovers that the world is actually 3D and collapsing. The objective of the game is to find missing golden cubes to keep the universe from collapsing. Finding these cubes involves rotating the world (either to the left or right) to see other sides of the 3D world and change perspective. Changing perspective allows the player to see hidden golden cubes or doors/portals which may contain the cubes or other resources. These resources include maps to solve later puzzles or keys to unlock doors. Changing perspective can also help the players solve the puzzles of how to reach a particular cube, since when perspective changes, platform sizes can change to make jumping easier and platforms can become closer together to make jumping possible. The player must also use Gomez’s possible actions, such as climbing ladders/vines, to reach these golden cubes. 

In terms of boundaries, the player can move between different parts of the universe through doors or portals, but new some parts of the universe can only be reached once enough cubes are found. Since some cubes are difficult to find, opening a portal that requires a lot of cubes requires solving a lot of puzzles, some more difficult than others. For example, I had trouble reaching a golden cube at the top of a lighthouse. There was no way to jump or climb by way to the top. After some exploring, I discovered a hidden door that contained a key. I realized that the lighthouse contained a locked door at the bottom, and so this key was my way to the top. Discovery (as a type of fun) was achieved by forcing me to search all the space available to me in order to solve puzzles. Challenge was achieved by preventing me from advancing in the game until I had found enough golden cubes.

Like I said, I really enjoyed this game. However, there is room for improvement. Once I was had unlocked numerous parts in the universe, I found it difficult to navigate through it. Standing in front of portals and doors caused a preview of where I would be entering to pop up. The preview was not very helpful, so I needed to keep referencing the map of the universe to understand where I would be going. The map was also difficult to interpret and navigate. Also, if I wanted to go back to an earlier part of the universe, I would need to walk through every single part that led me there. After a while of referencing the map, I grew frustrated. I think that the game should have allowed the player to jump to a different part without needing to work their way back. In my opinion, there are enough puzzles to solve in this game, and navigation through already visited areas is not as fun as the other puzzles. 

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