« Reply #2489 on: May 11, 2013, 10:05:41 AM »
i just "200%'d" the game and thought i'd leave my review here. i don't want to review it for the front page because fish hates me and it'd be weird, but this is what i *would* write on the frontpage, as a review type thing
i thought fez was a good game overall, but with a couple of weaker points that could easily have been better. i won't go into the good parts of it because everyone already covered those in every other review or post about the game, so here's specifically what i thought could be improved. this review has many spoilers
the random black hole element felt pointless, because they usually never posed much of a challenge when they appeared, and because you could get rid of them by leaving a room and re-entering it. there are even some cases where black holes made it impossible to get through an area, and the only way to progress is to leave an area and enter it, although that is rare
most of the puzzles were good, although some of the puzzles weren't very good, such as the clock, where you had to either change your computer's clock settings or wait until a certain time, sometimes up to *a week* away. besides being unoriginal (especially in indie games; merry gear solid 2 used the same puzzle in a more creative way several years ago), it just isn't fun for me to wait or to set my clock's time to cheat. overall the puzzles were pretty good (although not anywhere near the level of inventiveness and quality of the puzzles in la mulana), it's just that it had a rare few particularly bad puzzles that made me go 'what were they thinking' avgn-style
the majority of the negative cube puzzles relied on a single "meta-puzzle", breaking the "codes" of the game, and those codes were very hard to figure out unless you used the internet to cheat. i'd be surprised if more than about 1% of players figured out all three code systems (letters, numbers, and key presses) by themselves. i would also have preferred if those codes were randomized, so that you couldn't just look up the code solution to an area. instead it may have worked better if each player had a unique code for each of the code puzzles that they had to decipher themselves (i don't just mean a unique key sequence, but also a unique *code* -- e.g. the tetrads meaning different keypresses for different players)
the world map, while cool visually, was almost useless. it wasn't too hard to navigate, that wasn't the problem, the problem was that it offers no indication of which door leads where. for example, let's say you are in an area with 7 doors leading to 7 other areas, and you want to get to one of those in specific. to do that, you either had to memorize which door leads where, or walk in front of each door and compare the picture that appears to the picture on the map. there's no way to know which door leads where without walking in front of it or going through it to check. and the doors often involve going through a lot of platforming challenges to reach, so you often have to re-solve most of a room's puzzles in order to check each door just to get where you want to go, a problem that could have been easily fixed by offering the ability to see where a door leads without having to stand directly in front of it
navigating the world was made easier with warp points, but they were placed somewhat far apart, so that sometimes you had to go through the challenges of 3 or more rooms before you got to the nearest warp point. it'd have been nicer to have had a way to instantly return to any previously visited warp point (quick travel). even the first zelda game had this in 1987, with a recorder that took you to completed dungeons. the lack of this option felt like a cheap way of artificially extending game time
super spoilers ahead: i also felt as if the second hidden ending was a bit of a let down. when you get your first 32 cubes you are treated to a superb abstract animated ending similar to the short film "powers of ten". getting the next 32 cubes is much, much harder and takes much, much more time. when i finally did it, i was treated to a much shorter and less interesting abstract animated ending which wasn't anywhere near as entertaining, which felt like a let down. i grew up with videogames where the harder to reach, "best" ending was also the most fun ending to watch, but in this game the "normal" ending is much more entertaining, and longer, than the best ending
despite there only being four items in the game, you find several items in the game which do not do anything, such as the skull. they seem to be just there for flavor. two of the four items have uses in solving the game's puzzles (in helping to break the code), but the other two are just for "fun" have have no functionality.
the game also has a lot of bugs. some people would lose their save files. the game crashed several times for me in my ~11 hours of playing it. these are being fixed, however.
the game also felt relatively short considering the amount of time in development. five years of development led to a game that can be completed in 5 hours, and 200%'d in 10 hours. that's about one year of work for each hour of gameplay. the quality of those hours of gameplay is very good of course, but, this may just be a personal taste thing, but, especially with exploration games, i like big worlds. la mulana, knytt underground, glum buster, and other indie exploration games dwarf fez's world in size and don't really suffer a lesser quality for their larger size. non-linearly exploring a world is more fun if that world has more than about 80 areas
the level design was generally competent, with some very well designed levels, but nonetheless the placement of some of the small cube pieces felt like they were just strewn about arbitrarily. some of the smaller pieces were just in your way, and you couldn't avoid getting them if you tried. it feels strange in a game where the goal is to collect all of the pieces to have it take no effort to collect many of them. i felt as if many of the smaller pieces could easily have been placed in harder to reach places. it felt as if you were playing mario 64 and some of the star pieces were just right there out in the open with nothing standing in the way of just walking leisurely to them. i mean, of course some should be easier to reach than others. but there were a whole bunch of them (at least forty small pieces) which took zero effort; you just enter a room, walk or jump to reach it, and exit the room, without any obstacles or challenge whatsoever
none of these criticisms, however, are crippling. i think they only bring the game down from what could have been an A+ to an A- or a B+. and they're forgivable if you consider that this is the first completed full-length game ever made by most of the game's core developers, so they're the kinds of mistakes you'd expect in someone's first game. it's probably better to focus on what it did right than what it did wrong, it's just that everyone else already focused on that, so i thought i'd offer a what could have been better evaluation here