Rez Infinite Review – Return of a Classic (PS4/PSVR)
Beginning its life 15 years ago on the PlayStation 2 (and Dreamcast), Rez is a lauded rhythm shooter that set the stage and inspired many games in the decade and a half that would follow. It is widely acclaimed as one of the best games of all time, inducing a state of synesthesia — the phenomenon of experiencing secondary involuntary sensory experiences when other cognitive nodes are stimulated — while the player creates a soundtrack using their own projectiles, zooming through a digital world made to represent the inside of an all-powerful AI. Never has Rez felt more complete than with its evolution to VR, a zen-like state that completes the immersion, fully realizing the goal of turning any player into a synesthete.
Without even jumping into VR, Rez Infinite is already an impressive display. Pulsing colors and shapes forming vaguely recognizable imagery set to a mind opening soundtrack, all boasting a solid 1080p and running at a consistent 60 frames-per-second that I never noticed faltering. Admittedly, I didn’t play long on a regular television display, opting instead for the far superior VR experience, but what I did play on my TV proved that even those without Sony’s latest piece of hardware are in for a treat, particularly if they are looking for a worthy update to the Rez of old.
Putting on the PlayStation VR headset changes everything, largely for the better. Though my character was on a dedicated path, my view was completely unrestricted, allowing me to look in any direction to locate targets, blast incoming projectiles, and take in the expressive geometric visuals all around me. In some cases, this range of motion was especially important to gameplay, requiring me to crane my head to avoid being hit by one of the bosses. Add in the 3D audio pumping through the headphones, and the ever present nature of Rez Infinite in PlayStation VR became my entire reality. The only things that mattered were reaching the core, defeating the bosses, and evolving my avatar through the beauty of sight and sound.
Return of Rez
Rez Infinite is made up of the original five Rez levels and a new zone called Area X, which I will get to in a moment. The five levels are made up of 10 layers each, and at the end of every level is a massive boss to take on. The on-rails shooter requires players to pan over and lock on up to eight targets before releasing the trigger to destroy them. This can be accomplished through the use of the traditional DualShock 4, a Move controller, or even just by using the VR headset to look where you want to aim. After trying each control method, I found the Move controller/VR headset combination to be the most immersive by far (after changing the VR mode to dynamic instead of standard), looking where I wanted to shoot and using the motion of the Move to fine tune my aim.
Blasting targets fills the soundtrack with additional beats and melodies, the environments playing as a visualizer for a soundtrack that I was core in conducting. Whether I was launching volleys in time with the beat, or letting loose in opposition of the basic rhythm, the soundtrack I created was my own, modifications to a stunningly crafted electronic back beat. This is a game best appreciated through a high quality surround sound system or a good pair of headphones, the nuances of the music actually being directional, based on the locations of enemies, shots fired, and even your head positioning in PlayStation VR.
The basic campaign may require simply completing each level, but score attacks offer unique new ways of playing the same five levels, and eventually a boss rush mode can be unlocked to go up against Rez’s massive boss battles one after the other. Completing the initial five levels will also unlock Rez Infinite’s all new content, Area X, a level that shows the full potential of a Rez game on the current generation, and notable strengths in VR.
New Generation of Rez
Area X takes Rez Infinite off-rails, allowing free flying through 3D space, a stunning a display of visuals even more bright and detailed than the main campaign. The variety of enemies that I faced in Area X presents an even greater challenge than the standard levels, and the ability to fly freely throughout the level opened up unique opportunities to take them on. The soundtrack created here is completely up to the player, differing depending on the path taken, and the explosions of defeated enemies see the world become a veritable light show, all of which becomes even more immersive through PlayStation VR and a good set of headphones. Best part of all? Despite the high amount of motion present, I never felt myself feeling ill or discomforted at all at anytime during Rez Infinite.
Rez Infinite is the latest in the continued evolution of Rez. One can hardly call it a sequel, because a large core is made up of Rez and Rez HD content, but Area X proves that the game can evolve without the original content becoming stale or irrelevant. With or without PlayStation VR, Rez Infinite is an incredible revival of a classic best, but given the choice, I’d much prefer to immerse myself with the headset on my head, finding the ultimate incarnation of Rez’s synesthesia in virtual reality.
Rez Infinite review code provided by publisher. For more information on scoring please see our Review Policy.