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Fez (Xbox 360 Arcade)
Reviewed On: Xbox 360
Available For: PC and Xbox 360
Developer: Polytron and Trapdoor
Age: 3 (PEGI)
Usually when we hear of an alien abduction we're told harrowing tales of ghastly experiments and biological tinkering. But for the little white creature Gonzo, it's very different indeed. The aliens simply dress him in a Fez. It's more like being abducted by a Moroccan version of Gok Wan.
But with a great fez comes great responsibility, which is exactly why his new piece of headgear now allows him to shift his normally 2D world into 3D perspectives. It's with this new power that he must find all the cubes and save the universe.
Although play is always carried out on a 2D playing field, extra places can be reached by turning the scenery by 90 degrees. It's a new spin on the classic Paper Mario style of play.
Graphically, Fez pays homage to the 2D games of yesteryear, with blocky pixels jutting crudely from edges that are supposedly meant to be round.
The audio is generally calming and soothing, and although quite minimal, perfectly adequate.
Shards of cube are scattered around the place, waiting to be found by Gomez. Eight will give him a new cube, of which there are 32 to be found. Getting a certain amount with give him access to new doors, new areas, and essentially more shards and cubes. This newly found 3D world is his oyster.
Some of the puzzles that lead to the discovery of the 32 anti-cubes are obscure and surreal but generally intuitive and clever. Most of the time, players won't even realise there's a puzzle to solve. Take for instance when a QR Barcode is seen on the wall - scan it with your camera phone and it will give you a clue. Simple but effective, subtle and addictive.
It was clearly always the intention of developers Polytron for players to wonder, explore, get lost, and discover. It's all about finding your surroundings and understanding them - from all perspectives.
It's fun, it's colourful, and although it's stark raving bonkers, its quirks are also its charms. It's unique in its style and unique in its approach - you'll never have played anything quite like it.
SCORE: 9 / 10
PROS: It's unique, charming and simple in its appearance, whilst being challenging in it's play. It really gets people thinking outside the box.
CONS: Sometimes the puzzles can be a little too obscure and far out.