PlayStation VR: The Mind Killer: Rez Infinite (2016) - Reviewed

When I first played Rez way back in 2002, I remember thinking "Man, this would be awesome in virtual reality!" Fast forward to 2016 and now this dream has finally become a reality with Rez Infinite. Rez was created by Tetsuya Mizuguchi, who was the head of Sega's United Game Artists division which was responsible for Rez and another music game called Space Channel 5. Most of his games have an emphasis on interactive music and visuals (he was involved with Lumines and Child of Eden as well). The hallmark of a great game is its longevity and Rez has been released on many different platforms over the years: Dreamcast, PS2, Xbox 360 and finally PS4.

Rez Infinite is a rail shooter musical game--so named because the player flies a set linear course through the game (the "rails") and moves automatically. Your character is a virtual avatar of a hacker trying to infiltrate a computer system known as Project-K. This system is controlled by an entity named Eden and you must progress through the sub-areas of the network to gain access to the core. The game play consists of the player moving a lock-on  reticule around and targeting the waves of enemies that are trying to impede your progress. Once you let go of the lock-on button, your avatar unleashes attacks that destroy them. It sounds pretty simple on paper, but as you go through the areas the amount of enemies increases drastically and it can get overwhelming fast. In the original version you had to use the analog stick to move the reticule, but in the VR world you use your head to move it around. This is much more intuitive and a welcome control scheme change.

The graphics for this game are highly stylized using lots of wire-frame designs and polygonal boxes. Each of the five areas has a different look, and traversing through them in virtual reality is a trippy experience. Rez Infinite has two modes available for VR: one where your viewpoint stays stationary and one where the camera movement is much more dynamic. The dynamic one is a lot more fun but if you are prone to motion sickness you might want to stick with the stationary view. New to this edition is Area X, which is an area that has been completely retooled for VR and has a different control scheme. You can move your character any direction and explore the environment from any angle. Words cannot describe how absolutely breathtaking and gorgeous this level is as it uses particle effects to the fullest extent possible. I am not kidding when I say I was moved to tears by the experience and it stands as one of the most memorable gaming moments of my life. Area X is the future of VR gaming and its capabilities.

As Rez Infinite is also a music game, the sound design and soundtrack are excellent as well. When the player shoots an enemy, each shot is accompanied by a musical beat or cue and it synchronizes perfectly with the music in the level. Each track starts out simple and gradually adds layers as the player progresses though the levels. One of running themes of the game is "synesthesia" and the harmony of the graphics and music definitely evoke that feeling. In addition, the controller vibrates to the beat of the music and you have the option of using a second controller as a so-called "Trance Vibrator" to enhance the body response. Side note: back in the PS2 days, the Trance Vibrator was a separate peripheral and some people used it for...other than its intended purpose.

Rez Infinite is a game that is perfect in VR and one of the most fully realized PlayStation VR launch games. While the price is steep for how short the game is, Area X is absolutely worth the price of admission and the classic game is iconic and well loved for a reason.This game is available as a digital download from PSN, but you can also get a physical copy from the website Iam8bit as well.


-Michelle Kisner