When Rez Infinite came out for Playstation VR about a year ago, we highlighted it as one of the best games that money can buy for your Sony headset. Now, the game has given up its Playstation exclusivity and has landed on Steam for PC owners to enjoy (both with and without headsets).
When we were originally reviewing Rez Infinite, it was part of the big lineup of launch games for Playstation VR. It stood out though, and I insisted on trying it out myself as well. I did, and I enjoyed it, but it was nothing like how blown away I was when I played the Steam version a few weeks ago.
The main reason I ended up being so impressed was that I now played the Area X portion of the game, rather than the original Rez levels that have ported to VR. I’ll touch more on that later, but part of the excitement was also that I got to playtest the game with none other than Tetsuya Mizuguchi himself – creator of the original Rez as well as Rez Infinite and titles like Lumines and Child of Eden. When he and part of the Enhance team traveled to Germany for Gamescom, we jumped on the opportunity to meet – and it was one of the most impressive demos of the entire show for me personally.
Part of that is Mizuguchi’s personal passion for his project, and the way it blends sound, music, image and form as a way to craft experiences and emotions. It didn’t take long before it was time for me to don an Oculus headset and dive into the game, but hearing about a game’s vision from the creators themselves is always the best way to hear about it. Talking about how playing Rez in VR was the closest thing to being like Jean Michel Jarre and his laser harp with someone who instantly understood what I was talking about was a nice bonus too.
Having played the Playstation VR version only briefly, I had only heard about Area X but had never seen it. This time, it was the sole focus of my experience – and my, was it an overwhelming one. The original Rez levels can be played in VR as well, but they all take place with you flying through a partly invisible corridor with a ton of vector graphics, colors and enemies to shoot. Area X, however, was made over 15 years later and takes advantage of the technological advances made since the days of the Dreamcast.
This means that Area X is an audiovisual spectacle the likes of which I haven’t seen anywhere else – music, sound and lights are all around you, and not just in a 360 degree radius but also above and below you. No longer confined to flying in a straight line, you can explore areas freely before moving on to the next one. Each sub-area is filled with tons of little details, which creates a sensory treat no matter where you look. It actually looks so good that it makes the original Rez levels feel somewhat dated – or rather, like the stuff that nostalgia is made of.
The original Rez is still a joy to play and hasn’t lost any of its charm. It’s not overflowing with content, but it’s a formula I haven’t seen done any better by anyone else since it came out. Area X is the evolution of the genre though, brought to us by Tetsuya Mizuguchi himself. It’s an experience every VR owner should have, even if you’re no good at rhythm-based games. Believe me, this is an audiovisual dream come to life. Now, excuse me while I claim one of our Playstation VR headsets for some Area X this coming weekend. Until it’s here, I’ll continue to practice on the Steam version.