The story begins when Gomez, a handsome 2-D fellow wakes up in his normal 2-D village and climbs to the top. There, he meets the Hypercube, a 4-D being who gives Gomez a mysterious fez which allows him to reorient his 2-D world. In case you weren’t sure, the story is weird and not entirely necessary. Don’t assume that it isn’t incredibly well thought out or competent. It is certainly that. You just don’t need to follow it to enjoy yourself.
The gameplay is the reason you want to play this game. With his newfound fez, Gomez can rotate the world to see the other dimensions. The thing is, he is still a 2-D guy, so your gameplay is confined to the standard two dimensions. What this does, though, is break the world in the most empowering way imaginable. That cliff too high? Rotate the world and that ledge out on the side is squashed up against it. Need to cross a wide chasm? Rotate and you are suddenly on the other side. How you move through the environment is entirely dependent on your perception. In fact, I am running out of words to describe it, so look at the below trailer with your eyes.
If you want to, you can play through this game as a regular platformer and enjoy yourself immensely. It is a spectacular platformer. It rewards your dexterity but doesn’t punish you for failure. It has another layer to the game that makes it special. Fez is smarter than me. Not a little smarter than me, but Einstein vs. the captain of the sportsball team smarter than me. There are sections that require actual cryptography to solve and another that requires translating from binary to ASCII if you even notice the thing that you need to translate in the first place. The thing is, this shouldn’t scare you off, because you don’t have to deal with it if you don’t want to. But, you might want to bring a notebook just in case.
Seriously, there is something incredible about a game that is smarter than me but isn’t a jerk about the whole thing. If you want to bang your head against the wall to collect every little thing, you can have a great time with this game. If you want to play a clever, little platformer that is only ever a clever, little platformer, this works, too.