If you were looking for a reason to get a PlayStation VR, you’ve found it.
Rez first debuted on the Dreamcast way, way back in 2001 and it’s fair to say that the original has been faithfully recreated here. But it’s also true that the addition of virtual reality brings it to life like never before.
If you’re not familiar, Rez is a game which presents you with a weird story about artificial intelligence gone wild. You’re a rogue program set loose in this digital landscape, trying to take down attacking software so you can get to the boss and proceed to take down the evil AI.
It’s nonsense, and something you really don’t have to worry about. Instead it’s about going forth into a wireframe world which pulses in time to the heavy electronic music, locking on to ships and shapes as they coalesce out of the haze and annihilating them to the beat.
I don’t think a game has ever fused music and imagery together as successfully as Rez, so much so that the two meld with the simple but challenging gameplay to create something else. The words synesthesia has been used a lot in relation to this title, and it’s utterly correct but, as such, very hard to get across in words.
The VR experience isn’t easy to translate either. The action of enveloping yourself entirely in these levels together with earphones adds an extra element of sensory deprivation which undoubtedly makes it feel like stepping into another world.
Rez’s levels burst with colour, the motion controller hums in your hand to the beat of the track as you lock on and fire. Soon you’re anticipating patterns, tracking enemies and rocketing towards the end of level boss. And the spectacle of these giant enemies in their perfectly low poly forms fills your vision as you whittle away at their defences.
It’s an awe-inspiring experience, and one which can be a little overwhelming. I had to take a break after every (fairly short) level just to readjust to the real world, resurfacing from the funky fugue for a few minutes before diving back in.
This version of the game also adds a new mode - Area X. You’ll have to play for an hour before it unlocks which is a very clever idea as it forces you to become familiar with the effect of the regular game in VR before unleashing you on this new concept.
Area X was built for VR and presents a full 3D space which you can move through rather than the restricted routes of the original game. It’s a different kind of experience which still captured the essence of Rez, and I’d be very interested to see it expanded into a full game.
Rez Infinite brings back score attack and boss rush modes for you to come back to- and you will because what’s on offer is so consistently mesmerising that it basically swallows up the real world.
It must be said that you can also play Rez Infinite without the VR headset and it remains a trip-tastic experience, especially if you get right up close to that TV and turn the lights down. This is a great addition as it means those who find VR difficult can still enjoy the game but the headset experience is definitely superior.
For what it’s worth, I’ve had some problems with nausea and motion sickness in other VR games but Rez didn’t give me any trouble. Maybe it’s the on-rails nature of the game or the rather simple graphics but I was glad to be able to play for a good while without difficulty.
The only thing which doesn’t really work in the game is the story, which doesn’t make a lick of sense. Beyond that this is pretty much a perfect title, with or without the headset, and while it might be short there’s endless replayability and plenty of friends to dazzle into wordlessness.
With Rez Infinite, PlayStation VR has its first killer app. It’s the kind of experience which could instantly sell a system, especially as it’s relatively accessible to all kinds of players. Just slip on the headset, grab a controller and bliss out to the beat.