First Experience — Rez Infinite

Whenever I hear unending critical praise about something, whether it is a book, a movie, food, etc., I often ask myself two questions:

1.) Is it really that good?

2.) Has hearing all the acclaim elevated my expectations to a height that is unfair and no longer attainable? i.e. Can it live up to the hype?

Rez is the latest in this line that seems to only receive amazing feedback from those I encounter. Although it has been in existence for close to 15 years, I have never had a chance to explore Rez and did not completely understand what it entailed. When it was reincarnated as Rez Infinite for the PS4 late last year, it was brought back into the spotlight and a reminder that I really needed to try this game! A few months later, after it was put on sale, I finally made the plunge and logged on to Rez’s world.

I obliged with the prompt at the beginning of the game by turning on my headphones and turning the lights off in my house. After the initial menu, I started the first world and the techno music started bumping in my ears. My eyes were treated to a digital world represented in simple lines and geometric shapes. My avatar floated through cyberspace, and was quickly accosted by enemies that looked like spaceships. The whole experience evoked a picture of futuristic hacking in books like Neuromancer.

The opening stage uses the classic green on black mainframe look that we have come to associate with The Matrix.

The gameplay was simple at first — highlight the enemies with X then let go to have your homing missiles destroy their target. You don’t even really control your avatar! Although you can look around, you follow the same path and cant dodge the enemy missiles, instead being force to shoot them before they get to close. In the back of my head I started to think “Is this really it? This is what I have heard so much about?” However, after the first zone is when it all started to click and playing through Rez became an amazing experience.

Although all the pieces may seem all pedestrian, Rez packages them all together in a way that makes something very unique. As you advance deeper into the cyberworld, enemies come at you faster. The colors and movement through the TV draw your eye all around the screen. The electronic music starts hitting harder in your ears with captivating rhythms as the sounds your shots make line up with the music. The controller vibrates in time. All of these effects swirl together in a way that start to put you in a state of trance. As I played, I started firing at all the enemies without thinking about it and my head was no longer under my control as it nodded along to the music. I was officially in the groove.

Rez’s boss fights each created little puzzles in order to conquer them.

I stayed in the groove as I continued to play the game. The boss at the end of each zone were captivating to watch and figure out their patterns as the music climaxed with the ensuing battle. It was hard enough where real tension started started to gather, but never where it became frustrating.

Personally, this couldn’t have come at a better time. The past few days had been filled with lots of stress as my wife and 2 year old son dealt with the flu. Rez and the hypnotizing journey it presented was the perfect way to escape and let the stress roll off.

As I came to the final boss, my only complaint was that it was over so soon, about 2.5 hours. However, I know Rez is a game I will revisit often, to try and improve my score, try different modes, and check out bonus areas. It also made me double check the price of PSVR as it seems like an even richer experience in VR.

Nevertheless, Rez is a game that creates what I am always searching for when I play videogames: A unique adventure that cannot be experienced in any other medium. It combines everything to create an unforgettable journey that I am happy to say lived up to the hype.