Rez Infinite is not a new game, nor is it what you could likely term a remake or a remaster. Simply, this is the same game that was wowing Dreamcast and PlayStation 2 owners back in 2001, but now with support for Sony’s new virtual reality headset. As a launch title, it likely wouldn’t have been that high on anyone’s list considering that the PSVR’s main selling point is as a new experience, but it’s safe to say that anyone that disregards Rez Infinite as a retro-flavoured novelty will be missing out on one of PSVR’s early highlights.
The brain-child of producer Tetsuya Mizuguchi, Rez was amongst the crown jewels of Sega’s output as they made the difficult transition from console maker to multi-platform developer, and it, alongside games such as Frequency, became a defining title in the emerging rhythm-action genre. For many it remains an essential masterpiece, and as a game so integrally built on its audio and visuals, Rez was a shoe-in for a release on a VR platform.
The loosely drawn narrative sees you take on the role of a hacker who’s attempting to infiltrate the Project-K supercomputer which is controlled by an AI called Eden. Eden has become corrupted and it’s your task to reboot the system, which in turn sees you travelling through the computer’s sub-routines, destroying viruses and breaking down firewalls as you attempt to analyse everything in your path.
Rez Infinite places you squarely in the electronic world that Mizuguchi envisioned, and you’re positioned just behind your in-game avatar which evolves into different forms as you progress, while taking damage sees you devolve back into your original form before you ultimately fail a level. You can look above, below, and behind, as well as to each side, with wire-frame shapes zipping by while polygonal enemies attack in multiple rhythmic waves.
This is an on-rails shooter, mixing elements of past greats such as Space Harrier and Panzer Dragoon with Tron-esque visuals and rhythmic dance music. You can choose between using the PSVR headset to aim, or you can retain the traditional analogue controls via the Dualshock 4, while in both set-ups you hold down X as you aim in order to engage a weapons lock-on, before releasing it to fire. As you take out each enemy, their destruction and your shots contribute to the soundscape, with various percussive noises joining the track. It works surprisingly well, and when you’ve got a pair of headphones attached with the 3D sound enabled the effect is incredible.
Using the headset quickly becomes second nature, and even when under intense pressure later on, I was able to accurately despatch both enemies and projectiles with relative ease. As things get progressively harder you’ll find yourself shifting in your seat more and more, culminating in a later boss battle that has you turning completely around in order to target them. After lengthier play I did feel some ache in my neck, but largely the only discomfort came from the occasional lurches in travelling speed and during some panning shots. Based on the abstract visuals I had a higher expectation of experiencing some VR-induced motion sickness, but thankfully it never really came.
Overall, Rez doesn’t have a huge range of modes to tinker with, with the original version of the game boasting five levels, and percentages for analyzation, support items and enemies shot down, giving you a little extra incentive to return there. You can take a purely experiential trip through Rez Infinite with the Travelling mode where you can’t die and there’s a Score Attack mode where you can try to beat your best run through each level.
The bonus section includes a small number of extra modes, including Direct Assault where you play the whole main game in sequence and a Boss Rush option. There’s also an extra level in the shape of the Lost Area which in turn opens up the Trance Mission, an endless array of enemies and sounds that threatens to drive the player insane – it’s sadly by far the weakest part of the package. There’re further rewards for repeated play, such as different viewpoints to play the game from, and these are well worth working towards.
To say that Rez is perfectly at home in VR would be a huge understatement. This looks, and feels, like an experience tailored solely to the format, and there’s no hint of the game’s underlying age. It certainly proves just how ahead of its time Rez was, and despite all of its previous plaudits, it’s incredible that fifteen years later it’s been fully realised. It is the closest that I have thus far felt to being in Tron, and the world is so solidly expressed that immersion is breathtakingly and heart-poundingly intense.
Rez Infinite is intoxicating and exhilarating in equal measure. Despite fundamentally being a fifteen year old game, its arrival on PlayStation VR seems to have finally completed the visionary work of Tetsuya Mizuguchi and puts you wholly within this overwhelming piece of sensory software.