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Video Game / Fez

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Cover art by Bryan Lee O'Malley

Fez is a 2012 puzzle-platform game by indie game designer Phil Fish, five years in development.

The game has players control Gomez, a small white... thing who lives happily in his peaceful, floating 2D village until he is summoned by the town's Old Adventurer. The Old Adventurer gives him a magical fez before revealing a shocking truth: The world is actually 3-Dimensional! The fez allows Gomez to perceive the 3D world and shift dimensions, but he can still only move across 2D planes. Using this newfound ability, he sets off to collect all the pieces of a giant magical cube that has been scattered all over the land, causing the fabric of reality to tear apart.

After initially releasing the game on Xbox Live Arcade, Fez went multiplatform on May 1, 2013, with the release of a Windows version of the game. Fish said that Mac OS X and Linux versions would eventually follow, but the release date was still to be decided. The game later came out on PS3, PS4, and PlayStation Vita on March 25, 2014, and much later on the Nintendo Switch on April 14, 2021.


There was also to be a sequel to the game, simply titled Fez II. However, in late July of 2013, after being insulted by Marcus Beer a.k.a. the "Annoyed Gamer" on the GameTrailers video blog-podcast Invisible Walls, Phil Fish exploded into a very angry tirade on Twitter, and then outright quit the entire video game industry, the cancellation of Fez II coming in the announcement's wake.

This game provides examples of:

  • 100% Completion: Collecting all of the cubes, anti-cubes, artifacts, and heart-shaped polygons.
  • 2.5D: The game blends 2D with 3D to create spatial puzzles.
  • Acid Pool: The green liquid in the sewer area. Unlike normal water in the game, it kills Gomez on contact.
  • Alien Geometries: Fez is all about this. Although it's a 2D character getting used to 3D geometries. It gives a rough idea of what it would be like having a a 4D entity phasing around 3 dimensions.
    • Bonus points for Dot's design; since Dot is a tesseract note , the game contains a 2D character navigating a 3D environment with a 4D companion.
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    • That Twin Peaks-inspired house with the red curtains inside. You walk into the house in one area, look around, and see there's nothing inside but the door you entered through—but when you leave, you emerge in a completely different area.
  • Block Puzzle
  • Bookends: The game begins and ends with Gomez waking up in his room.
  • Bottomless Pit
  • Cartoon Bomb: These can be picked up and used to blow up cracked walls.
  • Crate Expectations: There are crates meant to be picked up and thrown. On buttons for an example.
  • Cryptic Background Reference: Much of the backstory of the world is never outright stated, just implied by various artwork and architecture.
  • Cue O'Clock: Dot jokes that it's Cube O'Clock when you find a large four-handed clock.
  • Dark World
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: After falling/dying, Gomez will simply be transported right back to the last stable platform he was on.
  • Directionally Solid Platforms: You can jump through the platforms from below. You can also drop down from them.
  • Dismantled MacGuffin: A large cube is broken into numerous smaller cubes and a lot of those cubes are broken into even smaller cube bits.
  • The Ditz: Dot is hilariously useless and airheaded.
  • Don't Explain the Joke: "Well, well, well, what do we have here? ...Get it? It's a well." Although, it does look more like a Warp Pipe, actually.
  • Evolutionary Levels: The village classroom contains a depiction of evolution from single-pixel organisms to people. The equivalent of proto-humans had narrow, vertical heads, and their ruins (behind the four-cube door) seem to indicate that they were only aware of two dimensions. All the people seen and depicted outside of Village have heads of square proportions. It is implied that the people of Village, with their flat, horizontal heads, are mutants who lost awareness of the third dimension when they devolved.
  • Excuse Plot: Something bad happened. Now go find cubes. Or something.
    • There is a big block of unreadable alien text at the start of the game before the "something bad" happens. If you translate it, it doesn't reveal much more than "if something goes wrong, fix it."
  • Exposed Extraterrestrials
  • Exposition Fairy: The ever-rotating rainbow-colored tesseract.
  • Fictionary: Extensively used throughout the game, both for letters and numbers. Decoding both is key to solving several of the higher-end puzzles.
  • Flat "What": Dot has this reaction to the 64-cube door.
  • Floating Platforms
  • Funny Background Event: In one area you can observe a quick brown fox jumping over a lazy dog. Recognizing what this is is vital for decoding the game's alphabetic fictionary.
  • Gainax Ending: Fez's endings can't be different than the premise allows it to have. In the first one, the world seems to be destroyed, but then everything is fine. The second ending suggests Gomez's world is one out of very many in a universe also surrounded by countless others in the vastness of existence.
  • Game-Breaking Bug:
    • Sadly enough, lots of players have been having their saves corrupted by patches whenever close to the completion of the game. The only option is to create an entirely new game, which then is invulnerable to the patch.
    • Another game breaker relates to the throne room (now fixed), where solving the puzzle for one throne would make the other throne unsolvable. Now, solving either counts for both throne rooms.
  • Ghibli Hills
  • Gotta Catch 'Em All: Invoked by name.
  • Green Boy Color: One area is rendered entirely in the classic Game Boy green. There's also a sister area to this location which is rendered in Virtual Boy red.
  • Guide Dang It!: Unless you're a rocket scientist working at NASA, your chances of finding everything in this game without a walkthrough are slim to none. One of the puzzles has a dozen obtuse hints scattered throughout the game as text, and one was so tough to even figure out that it was just brute-forced. A few theories as to how it was supposed to be solved have surfaced, but whatever it actually is, Fish isn't talking. The game also has two made up languages you'll have to decipher to solve some of the puzzles, and Dot is intentionally unhelpful to any of them.
    • And the creator at some point confirmed that not all of the puzzles had been solved. Some new behaviors were discovered after decompiling the PC version, there are a few puzzle hints that are not attached to any known puzzle, and nobody has any idea what the "crop circles" mean. Since then, all of them seem to have been solved, though.
  • Hat of Power: The eponymous Fez, which allows Gomez's two-dimensional self to rise up into the third dimension and explore places he never thought were possible.
  • "Help! Help! Trapped in Title Factory!": Downplayed. One of the stone pillars reads, when translated, "Please send help. Trapped in a fez factory."
  • Heroic Mime: Gomez.
  • Hero of Another Story: The Old Adventurer's dialogue implies that he has been on a quest similar to the one Gomez is undertaking during the game in his youth.
  • Homage: Several of them, including Super Mario Bros. and Cave Story.
    • The two ending cutscenes are basically the two halves of Powers of Ten, reinterpreted for a blocky video game universe, with some bits of 2001: A Space Odyssey thrown in to boot.
  • Inexplicable Treasure Chests: For some reason, treasure chests can be found out in the open.
  • Intentional Engrish for Funny: Just about everyone but Dot talks a bit… off, grammatically. "Today is special day!"
  • Interchangeable Antimatter Keys: A single-use key fits all the locks.
  • Interface Screw
  • Item Get!: The main character does a victory pose when acquiring a cube or other item.
  • In-Universe Game Clock: Most outdoor areas have a day-night cycle, with each lasting about five minutes. This is significant because clues to certain puzzles are only visible at night. There's also a literal clock tower in the game, which is involved in a particular Waiting Puzzle.
  • Invisible Block: These are present in the ghost area and are revealed by lightning and water droplets hitting them.
    • Some invisible blocks appear in zones where the sky is clear, and the player has to consult treasure maps to find them.
  • Jump Physics
  • Kill Screen: An intentional one happens at the beginning of the game when the giant cube breaks apart, complete with a fake OS reboot, no less. This also happens in both of the endings.
  • Lift of Doom: The second half of the Foundry room with the rising lava: you ride atop a platform floating on the lava, and have to dodge obstacles as you ascend.
  • Lightning Reveal: Lightning reveals some things in some levels. For an example, platforms and ghosts.
  • Lock and Key Puzzle
  • Meaningful Background Event: Murals, portraits, pictures and even constellations in the sky provide lore on Fez's world and also clues and codes to various puzzles.
  • Meaningful Name: Gomez, his predecessor Geezer, the titular Fez, and the cities Zu and Nu Zu, all have a Z in their names, in reference to the z-axis of the third dimension.
  • Metroidvania: One that uses figuring out the rules of the world as much as getting additional powers to advance.
  • Mind Screw: The game plays numerous tricks on the player, such as pretending to crash.
  • Mood Whiplash: A big one during the bad ending. The Hexahedron is unable to restore itself and the game crashes again, but once you control Gomez at the village, everything blurs and melts into nothingless. This is followed by a few minutes of ominous bizarre imagery, after which it cuts to Gomez drumming triumphantly at the top of the village as if nothing had happened.
  • Moon Logic Puzzle: Most, if not all, of the anti-cubes and heart cubes are this, with the solutions ranging from Fridge Brilliance to absolute madness. In fact, some of the ways you are supposed to figure out certain puzzles are solved are so complicated, that no one has figured out how to properly solve them.
  • Multiple Endings: The ending depends on whether you go to the final point with half or more of the cubes or all of them.
  • New Game+:
    • Finishing the game grants this, which comes with all speech and non-puzzle signs in English and a first-person ability (that allows the player to see the world from Gomez's eyes).
    • Finishing the game after collecting all the cubes and all the anti-cubes gives another layer of this. Gomez receives a pair of 3D glasses, and unlocks the option to view the entire game in stereoscopic 3D.
  • Nice Hat: The cube grants Gomez a Fez at the start of the adventure. In addition, one character tells him, "Nice hat." And yes, it's cool.
  • No Antagonist
  • No Fourth Wall
  • No Plot? No Problem!
  • Ominous Cube:
    • A giant, floating, ambiguously sentient, yellow cube that speaks in a Starfish Language grants the player character, Gomez, a fez which lets him perceive the third dimension. Something causes this cube to shatter into multiple, smaller cubes,note  which causes reality to start falling apart. The game centers around reassembling it.
    • Gomez is also accompanied by a sentient Tesseract named Dot, who acts the game's Exposition Fairy.
  • Ominous Owl: Sinister owl statues can be found turning their heads to stare at you at various points and four mysterious owl characters who appear at night must be talked to. Inhabitants are not fond of them. Late in the game, Gomez finds things that indicate that no, they're definitely not what they seem. It's suggested the owls are worshiped by the Zu people for their natural ability to perceive the third dimension by rotating their heads.
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: While there are no enemies in the game, Gomez cannot withstand long falls and other hazards.
  • 100% Completion: Getting all 32 cubes and all 32 anti-cubes is necessary for the Good Ending.
  • Over 100% Completion: 209.4% is the maximum percentage. More if you abuse some glitches.
  • Painting the Medium: Tuning forks cause the player's controller to vibrate if Gomez stands near them, providing a clue towards that room's secret. If you don't have that particular ability, there's a backup method also relevant to what it does.
  • Perspective Magic: Major aspect of the game. The magic part comes from the platforms staying the same size all the time, no matter how they're rotated.
    • Further explored after you unlock the first-person viewpoint, which allows you to see previously hidden imagery.
  • Retraux: An unrotated screen looks like something that would have been possible to create in the SNES era.
  • Rise to the Challenge: One of the Foundry rooms features rising lava. The first half of the room involves tricky vertical platforming to escape.
  • Rule of Perception: If you can't see it from your current perspective, it doesn't exist right now. You can kill yourself just by rotating the camera.
  • Scenery Porn
  • Shout-Out: There are numerous references to other games, such as Tetris pieces and the guide character busting out a "Hey! Listen!"
    • Upon starting New Game+, players who receive the fez a second time are treated to sunglasses descending onto Gomez's face in a manner identical to the "Deal With It" meme.
    • The library from Myst makes an appearance.
    • A well in one area looks suspiciously like a warp pipe, which leads to a sewer area with a Game Boy color palette and style—and a nearby foundry rendered in Virtual Boy red palette.
    • A poster in Gomez's house appears to be the title screen from The Legend of Zelda with the text removed.
    • As well, the weird owls and various characters' wariness of them, along with a room with walls covered in red curtains could be a Shout-Out to Twin Peaks.
    • A few references to 2001: A Space Odyssey: The first ending cutscene has visuals reminiscent of the film's trippy Stargate sequence. And one of the red heart cube puzzles involves a black monolith.
    • One area has a door that's only visible at night while it's closed. And it needs a password to open. And it leads to a mine. Clearly someone is a The Lord of the Rings fan.
    • At one point Dot says "I can feel it! I can feel the cosmos!", a direct quote from Katamari Damacy.
  • Sugar Bowl
  • Surreal Humor
  • Suspiciously Cracked Wall: If the wall is cracked and there's a bomb in an area, chances are you're gonna use the bomb on cracked wall.
  • Tertiary Sexual Characteristics: The female creatures are distinguishable by long hair and/or by bows in their hair... even if not all of them actually have hair.
  • Title Drop: Extra points are awarded to the developers for literally dropping the Fez from the sky.
  • Unrealistic Black Hole: Gomez's rotating of the world eventually causes glitchy, cubical black holes to spawn in regions of the world, providing extra obstacles to navigate around.
  • Video Game Flight: The code Up, Up, Up, Up, Jump allows Gomez to fly in the post-game.
  • Waiting Puzzle: You thought Braid's was bad? This game has the infamous clock puzzle. At the top of a certain room there's a cubic clock with four hands, and when they reach the top, an anti-cube (one for each hand) appears; the fastest hand cycles once every minute, the others cycle respectively: every hour, every day and... every week! If you're playing on Xbox 360, that means either waiting, or restarting the game after changing the time and date while offline. Sounds tedious yet? At least in the PC version, if you alt-tab and change the system clock, the in-game clock hands will react immediately when you resume the game...
  • Warp Zone
  • When All Else Fails, Go Right: Or left. Or up. Or down.
  • When Things Spin, Science Happens: The Star Gate is made of concentric rings that whirl around as it activates. It's an obvious Shout-Out to the machine from Contact.
  • Wrap Around: Some areas loop when going too much up or down.