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‘Fez’ is Nostalgic Fun

Trapdoor

Sony PlayStation 4 (PS Vita)

$12.99 Download

ESRB rating: Everyone

Review rating: 4.5 stars

It’s not often that a fun video game can teach players a thing or two about physics or philosophy, but that’s exactly what “Fez” does. Originally released on the Xbox 360 in 2012, this addictive retro indie game has a huge following. Now it’s been reworked with 1080p visuals for the PlayStation 4, and the result is a must-buy!

As the story begins, players see a small pixelated character named Gomez who lives in a two-dimensional world. Gomez then meets a three-dimensional cube that gives him a magical fez, which allows him to interact with the third dimension. This starts a powerful journey that shows Gomez the depths of time and space that exist outside of standard perceptions.

Although the game is played as a 2D side-scroller, players are able to rotate the entire world in increments of 90 degrees. This awesome ability not only shows different perspectives of each level, but also opens up areas and advantages that aren’t visible in 2D. For example, a ledge that appears unreachable in one angle is well within reach in another, and a door that isn’t visible from three angles becomes visible in the fourth.

Most of the game play ... err ... revolves around collecting small gold cube fragments to create large cubes that are needed to save the universe. This is accomplished through exploration and puzzle solving mixed with minor platforming elements. In addition, many secret rooms and stages can be discovered that reward curious players with gold cubes, keys, etc.

On one hand, this game seems easy because of the unlimited number of lives and instant respawns. However, some of the puzzles can be difficult to solve, and deciphering the unique language isn’t easy.

Nevertheless, “Fez” is a wondrous romp through an unusual world where discovery trumps combat.

‘Sacred 3’

Keen Games

Microsoft Xbox 360 (PS3, PC)

$49.99

ESRB rating: Mature

Review rating: 2.0 stars

“Sacred 2: Fallen Angel” was a fun but flawed action RPG that entertained players with a vast open world filled with a plethora of loot to plunder and characters to customize. Sadly, “Sacred 3” has lost most of the depth for which the series is known, and the result is a run-of-the-mill action game.

Who knows why the game underwent such drastic changes, but it’s a mistake for the publishers to still call it an action RPG. Most of the RPG elements have been removed, and the open-ended world has been replaced with linear levels where the only “variety” comes from unimaginative side missions.

After choosing one of four classes (lancer, warrior, seraphim, archer), players are thrown into combat and tasked with stopping a dastardly warlord from acquiring the mystical Heart of Ancaria. Unlike previous installments in the series, these classes are not customizable in any way at the beginning, and there are no stats to experiment with. How lame!

With so many limits on game play, one would assume that the combat is epic, but alas, it’s bare-bones boring! Players only have a few attacks and one defensive move per class at their disposal. Dodging is useful, as is the shield bash because it breaks shields and interrupts spell casting. However, fighting enemies quickly devolves into button mashing peppered with the occasional defensive move.

I don’t think the casualization of the major elements in this game was a good choice. Armor upgrades itself, and new weapons are earned between levels because there are no loot drops. That’s right; I said no loot drops at all. Only gold and resource refills. Apparently, this game is designed for gamers with low IQs.

The big dumb action in “Sacred 3” may satisfy fans of the “Transformers” movies, but this gamer prefers much more depth and customization.


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