PlayStation VR needs real games and Rez Infinite delivers. Players want to see that there’s more to VR than just experiences; they want genuine benefits to gameplay. Whilst it may simply be a port of a previously released title – Rez was initially released on Sega’s Dreamcast in 2001 – Infinite is a step in the right direction.
Rez is an adrenaline fueled arcade shooter complemented by a beautiful wireframe art style and a heart-pumping electronic soundtrack. It’s the collaboration of video game designers, graphic artists, musicians and storytellers in a surprisingly thought-provoking game that tackles human evolution; the conflict between man, machine and nature; and self-aware artificial intelligence.
But being fifteen years old, you may already know all this. To reiterate, it’s an ambitious concept constructed with complicated messages and themes. Developers United Game Artists conveyed the idea in a commendable way, albeit simplistically with a heavy reliance on text to convey the plot, as was typical for games of that era.
Of course, Infinite’s changes come in the level of immersion and control introduced through the support for virtual reality. Although PS VR is not required to play this latest version, Infinite’s intention is clearly to immerse you in the rhythmic nature of the game like never before. It does so with the added support of 3D audio and new control mechanisms. Whilst you still hold a button to lock onto targets, you now can control the targeting reticle though the movement of your head.I enjoyed the game a great deal more than I would have without the use of VR. The technology and the game’s themes obviously go together hand-in-hand, but it was more than that. The level of immersion the port is able to achieve, combined with the new controls emphasis on movement had me essentially dancing in my chair and head-bobbing along with the beat in a surreal whole body experience.
However, Rez’s difficulty ramp remains, meaning that moments of serene tranquillity, of peaceful appreciation of the music, were interrupted by a large wave of enemies. Such attacks required frenetic head movement that may have suggested to any unaware bystander that I was suffering a seizure. To the game’s credit though, there is a ‘travelling’ mode allowing passive play of each level.
Additionally, score-based modes, bonus levels and the newly included level ‘Area X’ make this a decently complete package – especially for existing fans of the game – although subjectively not worth the full $44.95 AUD price tag to newcomers. It certainly not a PS VR system seller, but nor should it be expected to be. Rez Infinite is simply proof that virtual reality does indeed add experiential, immersive and gameplay benefits to real games, even if they are console generations old.
Rez Infinite complements PlayStation VR tremendously. Ought it be in the collection of every PS VR owner? Probably not, but it’s certainly one to consider. It once again blends technology and art, taking a fifteen-year-old game and combining it with the latest bleeding edge of consumer technology. I suppose that historical significance grants it some sort of poetic gravitas, regardless – the controls and storytelling seem dated. I’m sure long-time fans of Rez will relish this new way to experience the game, whilst to newcomers, it’s evidence that gameplay can be improved through VR, we just may not be entirely there yet.
The PS4 version of this game was primarily tested for this review.