The New Fez: A Review of Full Bore

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I’ve been putting off this review, because I don’t like reviewing a game before I’ve finished my playthrough. However, I just can’t bring myself to rush through it–and honestly, I don’t think I’d be able to if I tried (some puzzles are insane). But to be succinct, I love Full Bore.

The game follows a boar (you get your choice between boy and girl) who, after a series of unfortunate events, finds him or herself mining to replenish the gems found missing from the hometown’s vault. This isn’t a platformer. The boar can’t jump across gaps, and doesn’t need to balance carefully – you move from one block to the next, digging out ones around you as you go. Simple, straightforward, and I love it. It’s really nice that there aren’t a million controls and tricks to learn – for one puzzle, I got stuck and had a friend sit down to help. After showing them the controls once, they were off to the races – and after solving that one puzzle, they wanted to keep going. I’m going to use the word ‘elegant’, because there is no other word for how simple and clever and complex this game is.

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The best way to describe Full Bore is “the new Fez.” Similarities include the pixelated aesthetics, the meditational music, the hints that there is something more to the story, and the elegantly simple mechanic that leads to devilishly difficult puzzles. Even the map is very stylistically similar to that in Fez. However, with all these similarities, one would be insane to call it a clone. While it evokes some of the stronger points in Fez, it never feels like a cheat or a shortcut; this is a game that likely saw Fez, took inspiration, and went their own direction.

However, with Fez the full motivation was collecting the cubes. Whenever your progress was stopped, it was by a door that required more cubes to unlock. In Full Bore, while you do need to collect gems, the game is more focused on story. For example, the mechanic Wotan needs a #3 Samoflange to fix the drill, and you can’t progress until you find that piece. While this makes the game feel less like an MMO “collect 5 hides” quest (as the cube collection in Fez started to feel like), it makes progress a little more difficult. It means that you can get stuck because while you have plenty of gems, you don’t know where to find that Samoflange, or what room has the door you need.

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Of the two biggest strengths of the game, the first is obviously the puzzles. For me, they range from “well, duh” to “okay, I’ve had to put down the game 8 times but something finally clicked and man do I feel like the most clever person in existence!” It’s a good variety, and for the most part, I’m able to figure the tougher ones out after a couple of breaks (exceptions being rooms that are clearly just bonus rooms, like those crazy code rooms in Fez).

That’s where the second strength lies: the aesthetics. Even if I do have to start and stop a bunch of times, I’m totally fine with it. The art ranges from “breathtaking” to “stunning,” the music is good enough that you can just listen to it for hours (but it doesn’t force you to), and even the player character is almost hypnotizing. It’s an adorable little boar, with flawless animations for many different situations. Seriously, I’ve never found myself so enraptured by 32×32 pixels before.

I can’t tell you how it ends, or how well the ending balances with the rest of the game. Heck, I can’t even tell you if it has multiple endings. Sure, it’s been out long enough (since May 6th) that there are plenty of walkthroughs and “Let’s Play”s, but I legitimately don’t want to spoil it for myself. That’s how good this game is: I feel like if I go to the internet for help or clues, I’ll be robbing myself of a valuable experience. I’m wholly enamoured of this game, and think everyone who likes puzzles should go get this game now.

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