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Fez: The Musical - Melodisle

No, that’s not a screenshot from Fez, Polytron’s “not a PC game” that’s probably coming to PC soon. And while Melodisle‘s general approach to its genre – set players lose in a semi-open area and put them through a gauntlet of slow-burn, eureka moment puzzles – is similar, its main mechanic marches to the beat of its own drum. Or, well, not a drum per se, but some kind of synthesized midi vocal chirp sound. It’s musical, is what I’m saying. You sing at the game world, and things happen. It’s an interesting conceit that makes for some charming (though occasionally convoluted) puzzling. Thoughts after the break.

Melodisle (pronounced “Melo-AUUGGHHWORDSDONTWORKTHATWAY”) takes place on a tiny island full of birds and mushrooms and weird sentient totem things. Most of them hold precious secrets (or at least musical notes), and you can test your adorable albino pipes against them by using the A, S, D, F, Q, W, E, and R keys – aka, “do re mi fa so la ti do.” So basically, it’s kind of like Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, except sans everything that’s not the ocarina.

It’s up to you to suss out what’s a puzzle and what’s not, giving the whole thing a relaxing freeform vibe. There aren’t a whole lot of them, but most will tickle your brain with a mix of endearingly bizarre sensibilities, overt references to Nintendo-era classics, and a spicy dash of difficulty.

Well, except when they don’t. A few of the puzzles outright tell you their answers if you pay attention, and another (here is a hint: I despise all birds now) swings in the complete opposite direction by giving so little feedback that it’s nearly impossible. Melodisle’s certainly isn’t the most even of experiences.

But it’s still an enjoyable one, despite being slightly rough around the edges. Then again, Melodisle is apparently creator Andrew Gleeson’s first game, and by that metric, it’s a borderline-incredible accomplishment. If nothing else, though, its world of doe-eyed warblers will steal a grin or two from even the darkest of hearts. So yes, it’s a pleasant little adventure-puzzler no matter how you slice it, and you should probably give it a go. Grab it hereabouts.

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Nathan Grayson

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