The Land of ESH

Log OutLog In

Posts Tagged ‘Trapdoor’

"Fez" Will Give You Goosebumps


There comes a time when a game not only embraces artistic integrity, it puts it front and center in the gaming experience. Titles such as Flower and Journey have done this well in the past, in which gameplay, storytelling, and visual beauty combine to create a unique experience. Newcomers Polytron Corporation (with some assistance from Trapdoor, the makers of the violently brilliant Warp) have done just that with its Xbox Live Arcade exclusive Fez, a game that not only gives nods to old-school gaming, but also successfully meshes it with new-school style.

Gomez lives in a world where cubes claim to be nonexistent, until one day he is given the adventurous task of saving his beloved world when shards of 32 gold cubes and 32 anti-cubes are scattered across the land. With the power of switching perceptions thanks to his new hat Gomez can now reach bigger heights and solve puzzles. Along with his not-so-helpful friend Dot, Gomez races against time to save his planet from being sucked into a black hole.

The game is constantly played from a 2D-aspect, with the ability to flip the view of each world 90 degrees at a time. Throughout the game players will have to find doors that lead to different rooms and areas that contain shards of the golden cubes, as well as figure out the solution to various puzzles. You will also collect maps that lead to hints for four hidden artifacts, though these maps can be quite confusing to figure out. There are no power-ups, there are no villains, and there are no penalties for death. This game is about an average character who is given an extraordinary task, something that should hit home to gamers everywhere.

The game’s simple control scheme allows gamers of all ages to jump into Fez. Clicking the left trigger or right trigger flips the area, the d-pad or left control stick moves Gomez around, A jumps, B lets you talk or read signs, and X grabs objects used to solve key mysteries throughout the game. At times players will find themselves thinking outside the box to discover hidden cubes and pieces, with some puzzles literally requiring gamers to use something outside their Xbox. In a couple instances I came across some wall imagery that looked conspicuously like QR codes. Turns out by whipping out your smartphone and scanning the image you will find a hidden button code that — when put in — will grab you another cube for you to use on your journey.

It is very easy to get lost in the world of Fez, though, with its beautiful map causing more confusion than help. At the same time, however, I feel that this game encourages games to lose themselves in it. The worlds you travel within Fez are nothing short of breathtaking, with each pixel pulling you in closer and closer as the game progresses. It may look like something you’ve played on your NES back in the day, but here the game’s ambiance helps to make the visuals seem fresh and something you’ve never seen before. Each area I discovered made me gaze at its beauty, something that not even a game made using the Unreal engine has ever made me do. My face almost starting hurting from smiling so much during gameplay because I was so enthralled by its world.

A special nod must be given to Disasterpeace’s musical score. It is the icing of this game’s delicious cake, with each song creating the perfect emotional companion piece to what is happening on the screen. (If I were you, I’d at least take a listen to it on his Bandcamp page, with the option of buying it if you like all things gaming.)

What works, too, about Fez is its tongue-in-cheek humor. For one thing your new friend Dot, who is supposed to be your guide in this game, really doesn’t do much except tell you how to control the game. When it comes to the knowings of what’s going on, he has just as much of a clue as you. Polytron also made some “glitchy” gags when Gomez first gains the power of the fez, going so far as to “rebooting” the game in classic Windows 3.1 fashion.

Fez will take you roughly six hours to complete during your first playthrough, as you need just 32 cubes of any kind to access the final door. The ending you will bear witness to is very Kubrick, only instead you’re given a much happier ending than what he would’ve done. The option of New Game+ will also appear as soon as you beat it, with all the cubes and artifacts you’ve collected from your first go-around in your possession; and believe me: you’ll have to learn a new made-up language to find the other 32 cubes in the game. (No, seriously, you will.) There’s also one tiny little bonus you’ll be able to do in New Game+, but I will not spoil it for anyone here.


  • Unique twist on classic gaming
  • Beautiful visuals and soundtrack
  • Puzzles will work your brain in various great ways


  • Can get lost in the worlds easily


Fez is a love letter to games and gamers alike. It has so much character and beauty that it’s impossible to ignore. What Polytron has done here with 8-bit gaming is the same thing electronica artists have done with chiptune music: made it fresh and exciting for a whole new generation. Fez isn’t just an amazing game, it’s also a work of digital art. When 2012 draws to a close, it might even be my pick for Game of the Year.

FINAL GRADE: 10 (out of ten)

Episode CXXXVI: You Don’t Drop The Soap. The Soap Drops You!

After spending last weekend at two conventions, the Bastards reconvene for an all-new episode.

This week King Baby Duck and Blueonic share their thoughts on PAX East 2012, and Anvil manages to find reasons why he had some sort of fun at Anime Boston. The week in sports is discussed, as are the demo version of Sniper Elite V2 and Fez.

It’s short, sweet, and will get you extra clean! It’s Episode 136: You Don’t Drop The Soap. The Soap Drops You!

Adorable Alien Kills All In "Warp"

The very last game I played at PAX East 2011 was a little title called Warp, made by independent developer Trapdoor Inc. In it you controlled a little alien who must escape from the clutches of scientists wishing to study you for research regarding the world beyond our own. Only lasting five minutes at the time the visuals and gameplay mechanics had me craving more. Eleven months later the final product has arrived on Xbox Live Arcade (with the PSN and PC versions coming out March 13), but does Warp continue to bring the fun shock value I once felt on the convention floor?

Warp has you take control of Zero as he runs around the facility trying to escape. Once you start off the game you are given the ability to warp through thin walls, as well as into nearby objects and people (known as fragging). If you warp into a person you have the choice to either warp out and leave them unconscious or — the more fun approach — blow them up from the inside, and for those that have seen pictures of Zero and think it’s a humorous explosion, you’d be making one bloody mistake. For a cute character, Zero is very violent.

Using both your warp abilities and some clever stealth tactics you’ll have to guide Zero through some sticky situations involving guards with guns, turrets, and other forms of hazards. Early on in the game you discover that Zero’s powers are drained if he touches water, so some of these guards will have the upper hand thanks to water-based armor. You’ll also have to face countless amounts of labyrinth-inspired areas that will have your brain working so hard you might have an aneurysm before you can escape properly (especially near the end of the game).

Fortunately as the game progresses you will come across new abilities such as Echo and Swap. The former will have you be able to create a decoy version of yourself to distract guards, which can come in handy when it comes to creating friendly fire between them and the scientists wishing to hurt you. Swap, however, will let you switch places between nearby objects and people, and once you figure out how to swap object while being warped inside a person you’ll soon find more gory hilarity. You will also learn how to launch items at your enemy, and can even upgrade your powers using grub you find on each level.

From time to time you will also come across challenges where you’ll have to warp as fast as you can to the other side of the level or frag every scientist or guard as quickly as you can. Beating these challenges under a specific time will give you more grub for Zero to use for his upgrades, and you’ll be able to share your times with everyone else who’s played Warp, as well. Sadly there are no ghost files of other play-throughs to try to compare and battle against, a shame considering that would’ve upped the competitive aspect of the challenges a bit.

For Trapdoor’s first title Warp plays wonderfully. The control aspect is very easy to figure out, as you only use the left control stick and a couple of the main buttons to play the game. While you might mistake the Echo and Warp buttons during dire moments in the game, it happens scarcely. Aiming with the Launch technique might also take some time getting used to.

Using the Unreal Engine the folks at Trapdoor managed to make Warp look pretty good. The characters, areas, and gore all are nicely put together, and I like how detailed the underwater world looks. (The sharks and underwater life were a very nice touch.) Also on-key is its soundtrack, featuring a sci-fi ambiance and some humorous dialogue from the scientists. I do have a tiny gripe, though, in this department: while I have no problem whatsoever with foul language, the f-bombs dropped by the guards seemed a bit off-putting.

Warp‘s main game will run you about 6-7 hours, a fair amount of time for an 800 point title. Once the game is done, though, there is little to come back to (a similar problem to last year’s PSN-exclusive game Rochard). While you can replay through the challenges to better your times, there isn’t much else to accomplish once you’ve beaten the game.


  • Fun challenges, puzzle elements, abilities
  • Great-looking graphics, gore factor nice ‘n’ bloody
  • Simple control scheme


  • Labyrinth areas get more frustrating later on in the title
  • Lack of multiplayer/co-op may turn off some gamers
  • Guards didn’t need to cuss as much


While there are a couple disappointments to be found here, Warp is a damn fine debut for Trapdoor Inc. Thanks to its great puzzle elements and solid gaming mechanics, the deceivingly cute Zero manages to help make the overall experience of blowing people into bloody chunks even more fun than usual. Simply put: the eleven months I had to wait for Warp to come out was worth it.

FINAL GRADE: 8.6 (out of 10)

Looks Are Deceiving In Trapdoor’s "Warp"

While hanging out with my pals from Gamer Reaction I came across a little-known title from EA Games and Trapdoor, a developer that recently came out of the woodwork. Named Warp the video game stars an adorable little robot that is trying to escape from his confines. Less than a minute into the demo what I saw blew my mind away.

Warp has you take control of the robot, who must use the power of warping through different rooms in order to make his escape. By finding safe spots in the room using the right stick you can travel through the rooms and find the quickest way to each checkpoint. Your robot can also warp through objects to get to areas a lot faster, as well as zap into generators to help frag them.

Around the early areas there were scientists, whose only response to you is to run around and panic. Here is where the twisted side of the game comes into fruition: you can warp inside of the human characters, and you have the option to either warp out and leave them dazed for a bit, or you can blow up inside of them. If you choose the latter be prepared to view one bloody mess of a death; one that will probably give Warp an M-rating when the time comes. You will also run across armed guards that will take you out with one shot, which is where you’ll have to use some stealth techniques to sneak by them or sneak up on them to do a little internal wanton destruction.

The Warp demo ended as soon as the little robot was surrounded by guards in a large room of possible importance. As I type this I am trying to figure out how the cute little killing machine’s going to get out of that pickle. Will I have to send him through the nearby generators and frag them, followed by some cunning stealth maneuvers to take the guards down; do I have to use the scientists in the room as something of a decoy against the guards; or is there another secret to Warp that has yet to be revealed?

Whatever the solution may be, what I’ve seen thus far in Warp has me clamoring for more. Trapdoor’s first game is setting up to be one hell of an adventure, and could easily bring this previously-unknown developer into the bright limelight. According to their marketer Julia Pung the game is still in development, with a release date of “when it’s ready.” Once it’s completed it will be released in the Xbox Live Arcade, Playstation Network and PC. Put Warp on your lookout list, as it has the capacity to be one of this year’s best downloadable titles.