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Rez Infinite (Steam Windows Version) Review: A classic masterpiece gets even better and more accessible to lower-skill players with mouse controls (a cheaper alternative to using a VR headset).

Thanks to anyone that comments!

(I’ll try to limit the general information on the game here, and focus on the features and benefits of this particular edition)

TL; DR: Great game becomes amazing in that official mouse controls are supported which make the game much easier to play and beat, and enable lower skilled players to enjoy the game more; the hand does tend to get tired from clicking though; vibration ability is lost; Area X is enough justification to buy the new version alone; even better with VR; even better in a synesthesia suit but don’t get your hopes up trying to get one; buy this game on sale on Steam.

Introduction:

Typically when I am not good enough at a game, and find it frustrating despite hours of practice, I would not have a good opinion of the game, not consider it one of my favourites, and would not nominate it for one of the best games of all time. Rez is one of the few, or perhaps the only exception to this that I can think of. Aside from the actual gameplay, the game itself had so much to offer in terms of graphics, visual spectacle, music, story, creative ideas, and overall experience that I would literally feel bad giving it a bad rating just because I wasn’t skillful enough to beat the last area of the original game with a controller. Rez isn’t just a game, it is an experience and a work of art; that was partly inspired by the art of Wassily Kandinsky.

The original Rez game was released in 2001 for the Dreamcast in Japan and Europe. It was later ported to the Playstation 2, and then later to the Xbox 360 as Rez HD. It was developed by Tetsuya Mizuguchi and a team working for Sega. It had an interesting development history, and the initial sales for the Dreamcast were low. In the years that followed it received critical acclaim and received various video game nominations and awards. In 2016 a new version called Rez Infinite was released for the PS4 with a new area called Area X, which allowed freedom of motion in 3 directions, and was the entire game was compatible with VR and VR motion controls. In 2017 it became available for Windows with official mouse control support, and in October of 2020 to Oculus Quest and Amazon Luna.

Plot:

In the future when there is a rising population, and overflow of information that corrupts cyberspace, a “Project K” is developed to manage the data. In “Project K” an artificial intelligence unit called Eden is developed, who has the visual representation of a woman. She was overwhelmed by the overflow of information and humanity’s clashing nature, and questioned its purpose and existence, and set herself to sleep in cyberspace. It is up to the player, who is a hacker to fight off viruses and an infected firewall system to awaken and reconstitute Eden. The game makes references to the evolutionary history of life.

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Gameplay:

Rez is an on-rails shooter and a music game. You destroy enemies generally by moving your aim within a pre-defined field of vision, though for some boss fights you have to move it to the very edge to turn to the other side. There are five main areas throughout the game, each with 10 levels. Beating an area allows access to the next one, in the main game and a mode called “travelling” where you are invincible. The player can assume 6 forms for the first 4 areas, and a 7th for the final one. When the player takes damage he reverts to the previous form. The player starts of at level 01 and can go to level 00 before game over. To raise a level a player must collect power-ups which fill a meter, with some filling up 3 slots. There are also red power ups which allow for a screen clearing attack against all enemies.

The shots you take contribute to the music and are in step, also the form level you take changes the music to an extent. If you shoot down more enemies the final boss becomes more challenging. You can also unlock an extra level by beating the game.

Rez Infinite has a new area called Area X. This was created using Unreal 4 and has new music. It is also a departure from the original since now you are no longer on-rails but can move about in 3 directions!

With a controller I always found Rez to be a hard game, and was a bit amazed at some of those that call it easy especially the final bosses in Area 5. Even for that crowd though getting 100% in all levels is hard.

Graphics, Music and Tone:

Wire frame graphics reminiscent of the old arcade games but with breathtaking creative designs inspired by the works of Kandinsky pervade this game. With incredible enemies, and landscapes inspired by geographic and historical places. It also features unique and challenging bosses. Although I am not generally a fan of the type of electronic music in this fame, I think that the tracks for Rez are phenomenal and only sound much better with the enemy and shooting effects. My personal favourites are Area 1, Area 2, Lost Area and the song that plays once you beat the game.

The graphics for the new Area X are in many ways better, but in my opinion some of the music is worse, although it still fits the game. The tone in my opinion is different for each player and how the player will interpret the game. Personally, it reminds me of the journey of life, the evolutionary history of life, and being on an important mission trying to overcome all obstacles. I always found this game to be inspirational.

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Control Schemes:

The original game apparently did support mouse controls unofficially. Since the Dreamcast did have a mouse accessory. I am unsure if this was possible on the PlayStation 2 or the Xbox 360, or Rez Infinite on the PS4. But now officially supported mouse controls are available on the Windows Steam version! (You can still use a controller)

I can unequivocally say that the mouse control makes the game much easier! (I've never gotten to form level 05 in Area 2 before). It is far easier, and more intuitive to control the cursor, almost to the point of being trivially easy for the first two areas, however, don’t forget that the boss difficulty level scales with how well you do in a stage, and trying to 100% everything is still a challenge. I found the last two area (4, and 5) bosses to still be challenging, partly due to the fact that changing direction by turning backwards is still difficult, or even more so since you have to move the cursor to the edge of the screen to start turning.

On the other hand, all of the clicking made my hand hurt, though I was finally able to beat the game. Obviously with a mouse, you do not get the synaesthesia vibration effect, but it may be possible to hook up a controller to get trance vibration although I am not sure. I find the game is much more difficult with a controller. For me, there are many parts of the game that still present a challenge even with a mouse.

Area X controls worse because there is also 3D motion with the keyboard that must be managed, but it is very manageable.

Best Ways to Experience Rez:

Originally Rez was to be played with a Dreamcast controller with a rumble pack, though mouse support, and possibly Arcade stick support existed unofficially. For the PS2 in addition to the controller a trance vibrator was invented that could be put into your pocket, and additionally vibrate to the background music. For Rez HD, this functionality was assigned to extra controllers.

Rez Infinite is best with a VR headset with VR controls (or so I’ve heard) which I do not have. All you do is look at the enemies and so target and destroy them. Playing with a mouse may be the next best thing.

However, the most superior way to experience this game is with a synaesthesia suit, which is a flashy suit with a VR headset, and vibrational devices placed all over your body, which vibrate to the music, with flashing LED lights all over the suit. I actually thought of this idea before seeing it, but when I did it was one of those: “I can’t believe they invented it” moments. The suit is not available for retail sale though and as far as I know only shown at the expo. By the way, I’m not advertising for them, but it is now possible to buy Rez merchandise from their website which is actually something I wanted to do.

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Bottom Line:

Rez is an amazing game and recognized to be one of the best of all time. It combines the on-rails shooter, and music game genres, for an incredible fast-paced 3D experience. Rez Infinite made this experience much better in VR, and with VR controls but for those without this the mouse controls may be the next best thing as aiming has become much easier, and those with lower skill, such as myself, can now beat the game, and try some of the extra levels, and missions. The new area, Area X, is worth the purchase of Rez Infinite alone, and is unlocked right away in the Steam version. You may also adjust the visual settings which can make it easier for less powerful PCs to keep the game from slowing down.

The game goes on sale on Steam every now and then, so I recommend putting it on your wishlist, and getting it when it is on sale as I did. Of course, if you do have a VR headset, it will be even better. Due to the control problems in the original versions of the game I would score it at 8.5/10, but for the Infinite version with VR, or mouse controls I would give it a 9.0/10. PS: If you somehow manage to get a synaesthesia suit, well you sure know how to live…

Overall:

Rez (original) (Dreamcast and PlayStation 2): 8.5/10 Great

Rez Infinite with VR or mouse controls (Steam Windows Version): 9.0/10 Amazing

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