Playing Rez Infinite‘s Gorgeous, Trippy ‘Area X’
After 15 years, there’s finally more Rez. And it’s in VR.
Rez Infinite, the (ahem) up-rezzed version of Tetsuya Mizuguchi’s cult classic that came to PlayStation 4 last year, is a launch title for PlayStation VR. Don’t panic, you can play the entire game outside of VR when it arrives next month. But Rez. In VR. Yes, please.
Rez, which Sega released in 2001, is a light and sound show of a shooter. You “paint” enemies with your cursor and unleash a fusillade, which lands to the beat of a trance soundtrack. The action unfolds like a musical score, building from silence to a symphony. The game is short, but so compelling that people still adore it 15 years later.
I’ve always loved Rez and was excited to play “Area X,” a single level that recreates the original games’ essential elements. It eschews the vector-style laser lines and hard edges of the original in favor of particle effects, creating something more complex in composition but clean in appearance. The gameplay mirrors the aesthetic. Rez had you speeding through tunnel-shaped areas as if on rails, but Area X lets you float freely in a gorgeous 3-D space.
In short: It’s more Rez. Finally.
“You’re free,” says Mizuguchi, whose new company Enhance Games is releasing Rez Infinite. He expects newcomers to feel little need to wander through the gamespace, but grow more adventurous in their exploration in time. In VR, moving around is no harder than looking at where you want to go, and pressing controller buttons to accelerate or slow down. “We did many tests,” Mizuguchi says of the control scheme. “We were anxious about VR sickness. Rez Infinite should be a feel-good game.”
I’ve rarely experienced motion sickness in VR, so I am probably not the best judge of this, but Area X felt great. I quickly lost myself in the experience, shooting down enemies in a low-risk setting (if you die, you respawn immediately) and enjoying the vibes. The vast size of the gameworld and enemies brings a deeper level of immersion to the already riveting Rez experience. Rez Infinite feels like coming home to a much nicer house.
The demo concludes with a boss battle against a massive, ethereal female figure, a breathtaking vision. It continues the metaphor established in Rez. “The original Rez was a story of conception,”says Mizuguchi.
While the plot spelled out in the instruction manual told of a hacker traveling through a computer system eliminating viruses, the story was a metaphor for conception. The player represented a sperm traveling toward an egg. “We have all gone through that journey, although we do not remember it,” says Mizuguchi. “Area X is the journey after conception, to birth. The birth of a human life.”
So the final boss is Mom. But also, Mizuguchi says, “the singularity.” Because two layers of meaning weren’t enough.
Don’t worry if you love Rez but aren’t willing to pony up $500 for PlayStation VR. The full game will run in 4K on the PlayStation 4 Pro. Rez was beautiful 15 years ago and is beautiful now, and fits VR perfectly. If you find it odd that a remastered game from 2001 is the most anticipated title for PlayStation VR, you’ve probably never played Rez. You really ought to.
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