FEZ ReviewGuest_Jim_* - May 12, 2013
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Graphics & Sound:
I will start with the audio by stating that the soundtrack has a very fitting techno sound, though the pieces themselves sound like they would be appropriate for a real orchestra. Of course, some of the effects, such as sliding between flat and sharp, may not be as easily translated to brass and string. These effects are not common throughout the music though, but instead occur most often when black holes are destroying the world. Perhaps the best way to describe the overall soundtrack is as something you would expect from an old arcade, though with higher fidelity. That fidelity does disappear though when you are behind structures, as an auditory cue for your position.
The graphics are stylized to look like a relatively low resolution bitmap. Almost every pixel in the game art is actually nine (3x3) on my screen and in screenshots. This style compliments the soundtrack and even the dimension-shifting gameplay very well. Some objects, such as the cube fragments, have a higher resolution, but not the environment itself. It is a style that works well and is still able to create distinct realms for you to explore.
Something many of you may be wondering (and probably should be too) are what graphical options we have, since this game was originally created for consoles. In terms of graphics, you have only two controls: resolution and Windowed versus Fullscreen. Honestly, for this game I am not sure if any more options are needed. Perhaps some anti-aliasing would have been nice, but I could see an honest argument being made that any AA would ruin the aesthetic of the game.
The performance of the game has been very good for me, which is not terribly surprising. This is not a modern-day Crysis and is not filled with physical objects to work on; I have never experienced frame rate drops, nor do I expect any. I started up my four or five year old laptop and installed FEZ to find it runs pretty well, though not perfectly. At some points the game stuttered on the 2 GHz dual core processor with ATI HD 4200 graphics, but nothing that would make it unplayable. At worse, the stutter meant I missed a landing, but I made it on the next try. A newer laptop with more powerful graphics would likely be stutter free.
Now we get to two important issues, though one is easily more important than the other. I am not personally able to confirm this, due to a lack of hardware, but apparently Intel graphics have major compatibility issues with the game. What this means is that Intel-based laptops are essentially unable to play the game. This bug has been reported numerous times though, so the developers are aware of it and trying to fix it. One reported solution is to update the Intel graphics drivers, but people are reporting mixed success.
The other graphical issue, which is important but less major, concerns the framing of the game and is somewhat odd. As stated earlier, in the game you are able to set screen resolution and the window type (windowed or full screen). My desktop's monitor is the unusual resolution of 2048x1152, but FEZ, like many other games, listed it as an option. Unlike many other games though, while it was set to one resolution, it was rendering another. At first it was actually rendering 1920x1152, and because I do not have GPU scaling turned on, there were black bars on the right and left sides of the screen. Now, after a release-day update meant to fix this issue for other systems, it is rendering a 1920x1080 frame when set to 2048x1152, so there are black bars on every side of the screen. My laptop appears to also suffer from this bug as the 1280x800 setting (native screen resolution) appeared to only be rendering at 1280x720, with letterboxing.
The reason for this framing issue is that the game actually "only supports 720p, 1080p and 1440p" (1280x720, 1920x1080, and 2560x1440 respectively) according to one of the programmers who is responding to bug reports. This issue is not really a game breaker (I have a different one of those to mention later) but it is an issue that the developers know exists. It is possible they are unable to do anything about the issue, so live with it and chalk it up to porting.