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I was late to the party to visiting Rez’s world of synaesthesia. Tetsuya Mizuguchi’s original masterpiece came out for Dreamcast and Playstation 2. It later was released in HD for the Xbox 360, which was my first foray into the game. I was instantly enraptured in the simplicity and the pacing of the experience. Yes, it’s a simple game in terms of mechanics but it felt like one where the journey alone still remains a cult classic among gamers. Mizuguchi’s vision for Rez wasn’t complete however. When he got the chance to remaster it on PlayStation 4 with VR support under his new company Enhance Games, he took it. The result is Rez Infinite, where we finally see the game at it’s full potential and PlayStation VR’s current killer app.
The story of Rez is quite a complicated one at first and never been the focal point whenever you’re playing. An AI named Eden underwent a shutdown sequence due to consuming too much knowledge on Project-K. You play as a hacker to reboot her by analyzing sub-areas and dealing with viral threats. Rez Infinite amps up the experience with PlayStation VR where synaesthesia surrounds you in 360 degrees and 3D audio by headphones. The original game is there intact with score attack modes, boss rush and multiple filters.
An on-rails rhythmic shooter at heart, Rez’s mechanics are quite simple. Shoot down enemies by lock on or their shots to avoid taking damage. Support items can be gained by defeating enemies for the character to evolve to a new form. The same can be said for overdrives, a smart bomb attack, especially if there’s a lot of enemies on screen. As I mentioned earlier, the gameplay mechanics haven’t been the game’s strongest point. It’s the experience as a whole that still holds up fifteen years later.
Each of the areas have various layers that have to be analyzed. As you keep progressing through the layers, the music and pacing build up into a boss battle at the end. These bosses have multiple phases that also build up on the music before they get defeated. Some of them provide one of the greatest moments in gaming especially that running man boss in the image above. Rez Infinite’s methods of music building and pacing remain unmatched even compared to today’s games. I would define it as perfection as you get into the classic soundtrack’s electronica-heavy beats.
The game changer that Rez Infinite brings into the table however is PlayStation VR support. The game can be still played normally, but Rez was meant for VR ever since the original release. Aiming with head tracking alone is night and day between aiming with the left analog stick. When I played normally, I felt slower missing enemies and taking hits. With PlayStation VR, head tracking makes the game easier especially for veterans that have been playing the game in it’s previous iterations. Plus the action being in 360 degrees lets you shoot down enemies that you would miss normally. There were some moments where looking behind becomes a necessity, so I recommend using a stool to sit on than a chair.
Playing through the entirety of Rez in a single sitting felt fine for me in VR personally. Fortunately the game is not that long, which is around a hour. You don’t need to move your body around that much as it’s just head tracking that matters. That’s not all with Rez Infinite as Enhance Games worked on a whole new area only for this PS4 remaster called Area X. Area X ditches the rails for more open spaces to move around and shoot. Some parts of this new area remind me of Child of Eden, Rez’s spiritual successor, with it’s look of the enemies and the song used in it. Area X in PlayStation VR is arguably the greatest gaming sequence I played in a long time. Every time I play it I’m simply in awe of how breathtaking it is.
Graphically, Rez Infinite looks beautiful with and without VR. The original game can be finally played in 1080p and also 4K with PS4 Pro support when that comes out. Due to it’s abstract visual style, the game in VR is great compared to some of the more realistic VR experiences out on PS4. Area X is a artistic masterpiece from beginning to end with it’s usage of visual and particle effects. The soundtrack is still timeless as well with classics such as Area 4’s “Rock is Sponge” and Area 5’s “Fear the Mind Killer.” The new song for Area X is also amazing to listen to when experiencing it. I do wish the song previews from the original versions were also in this remaster when you’re in stage select.
Rez is still one of my favorite games of all-time. Replaying it with PlayStation VR cements that as if this game achieves it’s final form. We finally see Mizuguchi’s full vision for this classic become real with Rez Infinite especially with Area X. If Area X is a tease of what’s next for Enhance Games, a sequel needs to happen sooner than later. The VR view and head tracking are game changers making gameplay more easier than normal aiming. Plus this game has the perfect length to be played in VR in a single sitting without issues. VR gaming is still early in it’s lifespan, but Rez Infinite is not just the best game to play with PlayStation VR currently, but VR in general.