Originally launched back in April of 2012 on Xbox Live Arcade, Fez is a 2D platformer with puzzle elements that hinge around being able to rotate the game world in 3D space. Since its initial release Fez has been ported to practically every platform under the sun, and in the process has won an absurd amount of awards. Fez is one of those games that it really doesn't matter where you play it, as long as you're playing it somewhere. This morning Fez - Pocket Edition [$4.99] was released on the App Store, providing a fabulous opportunity for fans of Fez to experience this gem on to go, as well as folks who potentially never heard of the game to play it for the very first time.

The basic premise of the game is you play as a tiny white character named Gomez. Within a few moments of playing, you're given a magical fez which unlocks the secret of Gomez's universe: His 2D world actually exists on one of four sides of a 3D world. By swiping the screen right or left, you rotate the game world and expose a new 2D plane to explore. The story (and gameplay) then revolves around collecting cubes and their fragments to restore balance to the universe. There's a lot more to it than this, particularly in the early game, but I'm leaving this intentionally vague to not spoil any surprises.

After you get your bearings, and effectively play through what amounts to a cleverly disguised tutorial, the game really opens up and you'll be hunting these cube fragments all over the place. It's shocking how many different pathways can be hidden and revealed by rotating the game in 3D. For instance, you might jump to a tiny platform, but then when you rotate the world to the right or to the left, that platform actually turns out to be a longer pathway that leads you to an entire new set of platforms you can jump up. As the game continues, new levels introduce additional complications through hidden passageways, switches, backtracking and so much more.

Also, should you choose to dive deeper into the game, there's just a dumb amount of secrets to discover. I'm reluctant to get too deep into specifics, as solving the game's riddles is a massive part of Fez's end-game. If you come across some things that don't make sense, just make note of them, and continue on. Everything will eventually come together, and if it doesn't, there's loads of guides on the internet unraveling absolutely every mystery inside of Fez.

Platforming does get a little complicated, but Fez is an unbelievably forgiving game for how challenging it gets. Basically, if you miss a jump and die, you just start back where you were before you took that leap. This initially felt a little odd in the original Xbox 360 release, but this mechanic is unbelievably welcome on mobile- Particularly when you throw in the inherent imprecision of virtual controls into the mix.

On top of Fez's beautiful game world is a set of virtual buttons which handle all of your movement and actions in the game. They work... about as well as you'd expect. If you're the kind of person who never has problems with virtual controls, chances are you'll blast right through Fez on mobile with similar ease. If that doesn't describe you, you'll be happy to hear that Fez - Pocket Edition also features full MFi controller support. Once you pair your controller, the game automatically detects it, and the whole gnarly virtual control UI disappears.

That being said, if you don't have an MFi controller, playing through the game using virtual controls isn't that bad, largely due to the way the game handles death. If you missed a jump and as a result you lost a life and started over from the beginning of a level or some other checkpoint, Fez on mobile would be super difficult to recommend. Instead, you effectively lose no progress, making the trial and error of navigating the game world with virtual controls infinitely less frustrating. Additionally, a lot of the in-game platforming puzzles typically lean more on figuring out what you're supposed to do, how to rotate the world, and other things rather than ultra-precise jumping.

A somewhat baffling thing about this port is that it is not optimized for the iPhone X, like a surprising amount of other "high profile" releases we've seen since the new iPhone launched. I'm wondering if this isn't some of the cause of the problems I've been having with the virtual controls, as without the weird black border around the screen it seems to play a lot better on my iPad. Either way, it just seems strange, and hopefully an update is released soon. Thankfully, iCloud save syncing is supported, so passing off progress between your iPhone X and iPad isn't a big deal.

Fez is a very good game, and I love how the player never really faces any consequences for failure. It goes a long way in creating an experience that's fun from beginning to end, instead of being loaded with frustration because you ran out of continues and missed a jump. The virtual controls are basically in line with most other games that have reasonably decent virtual button configurations, but the "real" way to play Fez is with an MFi controller.

Whether you pair a controller, or wrestle with virtual buttons, as long as you're actually playing Fez, you'll be in for a great time.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • matyou98

    Glad you mentioned if game had MFi support in review. Please continue to make it a point to confirm if there is or isn't MFi support in future reviews of games that would make sense having controller support in them.

    iPhone x screen support reminds me of when the 6+ came out. Took a long time for most games to support new resolution. Still seeing new apps released this year without 1080 resolution.

    • Tom

      Totally this - highlighting MFi games is something the app store is sorely missing, its great to see it being highlighted in the review as its often a common question

      Great to see more AAA games with MFi coming to iOS!

  • nav1

    If you play this game, use headphones if possible. The music is amazing and combined with the ambient sounds it makes for an even better experience.

  • Timmy2x

    If your “well off” and have an iPhone X hang in there as I’m sure it will be updated down the road, plus I’d like to say I think it’s pretty crummy to dump bad reviews on iTunes because it’s not perfect yet...just saying.

  • Dr904

    This game is amazing!
    And it has MFI + iCloud support! Instabuy!!!

  • QuarterSwede

    Once I read that it has MFi support I bought it, no question. Thank you for putting that in the review. I LOVE my steelseries Nimbus.

  • dazzlemi

    This is truly amazing news... I remember hearing rumors about this a long while ago, but never really expected it would happen!
    Fez "on the go" - I can't wait to give it a try

  • reweblind
  • beaucostoff

    Is this game not universal? Bought and downloaded for my iPad but have to pay again to play on my iPhone. What's funny is that it even states in the side menu of this article that it's universal. What's the deal?

    • Timmy2x

      Now you got me worried too, says universal above here but with the new App Store layout they took the universal cross away?

    • DanCJ

      It’s definitely universal. The App Store shows screenshots for both iPhone and iPad. If it’s not showing as downloadable for free on your iPhone after buying it on an iPad, then I’d guess you’re not logged into the App Store with the same account one both devices or something like that.

      • Timmy2x

        Yup just downloaded and it went to my iPad and iPhone as well

      • beaucostoff

        Figured it out. Thanks guys.

  • DrlRage

    How come his fez don't sit on his head in the app icon. Is this the official game or a AppStore clone? The way they clone games on mobile is refreshing, sometimes I don't want to play the original. Let me see what another Dev can do with the IP!

FEZ Pocket Edition Reviewed by Eli Hodapp on . Rating: 4.5