I think I owe FEZ an apology. I thought it hid vital gamelplay information behind a cipher and punished me for playing casually. However, after translating a significant amount of the in-game text, I'm pretty sure that whatever hints are out there, they are few and unessential.
Which, I guess, means that a significant minority of the game's puzzles are actually nonsensical and arbitrary, which kind of bums me out. Yet, those puzzles aren't really necessary to complete the game, so I really have no reason to get upset.
Logically, I understand this:
Something I like + nothing = something I like
optional thing I don't like = functionally nothing
Something I like + optional thing I don't like = something I like.
And I did really enjoy FEZ's platforming, so what I should take away from this experience is that FEZ is an enjoyable game and a pleasant way to kill five or six hours. I wouldn't turn my nose up at a nice, juicy steak just because it was served with a side of peas (I hate peas), so why should I begrudge those five hours of 2-D/3-D fun just because I could potentially spend another five tediously searching for coded messages?
Yet I feel like it's the codes that are going to stick with me. The biggest part of this is probably because I did them last, but I can't deny the irritation I felt when I saw the map tell me that certain levels were incomplete, nor the false hope that by pressing on and exploring farther into the game, I would encounter some new mechanic that made those hidden secrets a bit more transparent (the room where you have the best chance to learn the directional code is completely missable). And those were not feelings I enjoyed.
I really hate to be a contrarian about this, I hear this is a very popular game, and it is easy to see why, but I only enjoyed myself about 75% of the time I played it, and thus I don't think I'll be returning to it any time soon. I figure it's probably a personal failing, though. As much as I like to think of myself as the sort of person who is good at solving puzzles (read: "smart"), I don't seem to enjoy them very much. I'm going to try and remain optimistic, however - this doesn't necessarily mean that I'm not smart.