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Publisher: Enhance Games
Developers: Monstars, Resonair
Platform: PlayStation 4 (PlayStation VR compatible)
I’ve waited nearly 15 years to play Rez. This was a game with such immediate visual and conceptual hooks that it was hard to forget about even without actually touching it. Putting it simply – Rez is a rail-shooter where you hack into a trippy abstract representation of a computer database. Your avatar starts as a silhouette made of basic polygons that flies through wireframe canyons, blasting laser beams at weaponised viruses. Though the journey through the game’s 5 standard areas barely lasts an hour, it’s so well paced and varied that it’s something you’ll eagerly replay again and again. Rez remains utterly unique as an experience, with intense electronic music pumping as your zen-like cyber traveler battles against a running giant made out of data blocks, or exploring the ever-shifting archives of Chinese and Egyptian virtual zones. It’s still an awe-inspiring trip in the current year; building to a climax that is an achievement in audio, visual style, and level design in games. It’s only been a week since I played it for the first time, but no matter the platform, I think Rez is an essential experience to anybody who wants to play a game that’s impressive regardless of its age.
Rez Infinite is the latest release of the Dreamcast and PlayStation 2 classic. 2008 saw an Xbox 360 exclusive Rez HD remaster, but all those older versions are rendered obsolete by this new PS4 version. In addition to 60 frames-per-second performance, the game fully supports the PlayStation VR headset. I don’t have a PS VR and I doubt many folks will for a while, but Rez Infinite is well worth getting without even worrying about missing out on the virtual reality stuff. Those with the opportunity to use the peripheral however will get to enjoy aiming with their own head; immersed in a wider view of cyber space at 120FPS. All owners of Rez Infinite will be able to discover the biggest addition to the game though. “Area X” is a brand new final level unlocked after finishing the original 5 stages (or playing the game for 1 hour). It’s more than just a bonus level though: it’s practically a proof of concept for an entirely new Rez game.
Area X introduces a new dynamic to the gameplay by allowing the player free control over where they move in the digital space. R1 and R2 moves your character forward and backward respectively, taking the game off rails and providing a fresh take on Rez‘s concept after more than a decade. It’s about the same length as the rest of the main game’s areas, but it’s an utter treat composed with gorgeous PlayStation 4 particle effects. It’s not exactly my favorite part of the game since I found it a bit less replayable than the original Rez stages, but it’s a great little game for fans, and I imagine a wonderful experience in VR. Back in Areas 1-5 there’s an array of extras to unlock in its Score Attack and “Beyond” modes, where you can attempt to beat the game’s high scores on every stage and across bonus modes like Boss Rush and an extra Lost Area. There aren’t any online leaderboards though, which feels like an oversight, but is forgivable with the amount of unlockables to collect alongside the trophies challenging player on PS4 now.
One issue with Rez Infinite‘s release comes down to its pricing. £25 for a new release of a 15 year old game undeniably looks steep to a good chunk of people. If you don’t have the opportunity to play in VR the main points of value boil down to playing a remastered classic with one impressive new level. As I mentioned at the start of this review, it’s taken 15 years for me to get the opportunity to play Rez. In the end I feel that even without all the new bells and whistles, Rez is now high up in my list of favorite games. It’s such an enjoyable and unique title that I would call it nothing short of essential. If you really must wait for a sale that’s understandable, but Rez is the special kind of game that people will still be talking about 15 years from now. It’s so effectively designed that the sights and sounds it offers will stick in a player’s mind a long time after playing it. It’s not a perfect product, but this game is truly a classic worthy of appreciation, and this new edition is easily the definitive way to play it.