Since its release last Friday, thousands of players have struggled to untangle the knotty thicket of puzzles hidden deep within Xbox 360 indie title Fez, the 2D-meets-3D puzzle platformer that drove us batty with its obscure stumpers. Since then, only a few hundred have managed to complete enough of the game’s challenges to reach the 200 percent (yes, 200 percent) completion threshold. That’s an achievement in itself, but until Wednesday, none of those players had actually been able to complete the game’s most difficult puzzle, which involves a black monolith floating inside a hidden underground chamber.
Actually, that’s not strictly true—a small handful of people had unlocked the monolith’s secrets. But those solvers had either stumbled onto the solution without knowing how they had done so, or else a source close toFez developer Polytron had provided the answer. For the rest of the Fez-playing public, unlocking the secrets of the monolith became a project that took a concerted collaborative effort and nearly a full week of focused attention.
“Good luck with that.”
When game designer Trey Reyher reached out for help with the monolith puzzle driving him up the wall, he contacted a friend who had worked on Fez. He received an disheartening reply: “Good luck with that. It’s practically impossible.”
Reyher had already discovered the first two pieces of a mysterious three-piece, heart-shaped block that didn’t appear in the game’s official inventory. He found the first piece by button mashing, which was a bit lucky. (The actual solution involves taking a blinking pattern shown by two tiny red dots and converting it first into binary and then into ASCII to get a six-button code.) The second piece Reyher had deciphered from a maddeningly cryptic “security question” hidden inside the game. But he despaired at ever finding the key that could unlock the third piece from that mysterious black monolith. Finally, he begged his friend from the game for help