Release date: April 13, 2012
FEZ is a simplistic looking puzzle adventure game set in a quirky and cute looking world. One if it’s main features is the unique mechanic to rotate the 2d perspective in 3d. It follows a simple story and the player is able to progress by solving a variety of puzzles.
Lens of Simplicity/Complexity
Despite the initial 2d look of the game, the fact that you can rotate the world not only adds another dimension to the world (literally), but also provides the basis for most of the puzzles in the game- as most of them require the player to “think outside the box”, and cleverly use the mechanic in one way or another.
Fundamentally the game is as simple as it gets, as the player can only walk left and right, jump, and use the rotation mechanic. Despite the simplicity, the types of puzzles found in game are very diverse, and vary in complexity/ difficulty a lot.
Lens of Curiosity
The game starts off by introducing the player to the story and main mechanics. After that, the player is left to himself. By only being given the main incentive and not being lead in some way or another towards intermediate goals the player is encouraged to explore the game world. In fact since most of the play time consists of exploring the surroundings, the story goal often becomes a secondary one. Everything in game, including hints and puzzles stay canon to the world feel, and does not break the third wall, unlike where most modern games take UI-driven instructions to the player as the industry standard. All these factors contribute to making the player feel immersed in the world, and achieving the sense of curiosity to seek out challenges and explore.
The downside of this game relying so heavily on curiosity is that there will be players who won’t be curious enough to go forward. And when the story and main incentive is so weak, these people will probably just exit and forget the game completely.
Lens of The Puzzle
As mentioned before, the only way to progress through the game is by solving puzzle. Puzzles vary in difficulty greatly, and can accommodate both beginners and puzzle fans. Most of the time puzzles are related to some part of game mechanic or lore, and the players are rewarded not only with statistical game progression, but with knowledge of the hidden game mechanics and game lore – for example players can find Rosetta stone type slates scattered throughout the world, and if translated it can help player read hints and messages scattered in the game. There are many such examples where puzzles and sense of exploration blends so seamlessly, accommodating the general feel and immersion.
Lens of The Interest Curve
One of the most interesting factors for this game is the lack of in-game guidance. This puts complete trust into the player in regards of game progression and sustaining the interest. Due to such design, the game feels more like an experience rather than a game. The interest curve is determined purely by players’ preference in visuals and curiosity. Besides that, a lot of the initial interest (hook, in other words) depends on the first few minutes of the game.
Due to the fact that the game has no pre-determined, or even recommended path for the player to go, it is possible that one will spend a huge amount of time just wandering through areas where puzzles are too hard, or tracing back long ways just to get one puzzle you figured out due to one solved being similar. This would affect the interest curve
Lens of The World
The world plays a major part in the game. From aesthetic qualities, to complimenting game mechanics and even playing bigger part in many of the puzzles. The world is comprised of 4 sides which when switched between, provide different map layouts- As the perspective is 2d, the overlapping objects serve as platforms.
Game world is shrouded in mystery- but there is a lot of depth to be discovered if the player is curious enough. From old civilization alphabets to cities and monuments, each tell their own story in a quiet way, and the player is free to interpret as he likes. Either way, a lot of the lore elements serve as hints for the puzzles that are in the game, so in a sense, the game rewards players for being curious.