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GDC: ‘Rez Infinite’ Impressions

The original Rez is one of my favorite games of all time. The game plays like a ‘90s cyberpunk fantasy: Players zoom through cyberspace, hacking into virtual mainframes by rhythmically attacking polygonal forms. The game is based around the concept of synesthesia, a neurological phenomenon that allows some people to hear color or see sounds.

The experience is almost entirely aesthetic, which isn’t a bad thing: Rez’s less-is-more wireframe visuals are timeless and its slick soundtrack features tracks from techno music pioneers like Ken Ishii and Oval. Its mechanics are subtle but mesmerizing — they encourage mastery by directly influencing the audio-visual experience. Both targeting and landing hits on enemies creates sound effects that play into the audio track, making the player feel like they are helping to create the music. The worse the player does, the more naked the track feels.

I visited Double Fine’s Day of the Devs booth at GDC this week, where I had the opportunity to demo the VR version of Rez Infinite, the which is currently being developed for PlayStation VR. I have to say — the game plays just as you’d expect and seems like a fantastic addition to the PSVR lineup. In a lot of ways, Rez has always been a kind of virtual reality experience, so Rez Infinite makes perfect sense.

Rez-Infinite-Wide
<em>Rez Infinite</em> benefits from the wider field of view afforded by VR.

The game seems untouched, which is a sensible decision given its timeless design philosophy. The sound is exactly the same and the graphics seem relatively unchanged, save for a few added lighting flourishes. The game still looks incredible, which is a testament to the elegance of the original’s art direction.

The game doesn’t make much use of the VR headset, outside of immersing the player in the Project-K supernetwork. While players can move their head to look around, the camera is automatic, changing direction to point the player towards the next wave of enemies. I found myself staying relatively still during my time with the game, though I did instinctively crane my neck every now and then to look towards where the enemies were coming from.

There was only one level to play in the demo — a polygon-perfect recreation of the opening section from the original game, complete with the same minimal Ken Ishii track.

Rez Infinite will include a brand-new area, called Area X, though I wasn’t able to play any of that during my short time with the game. That said, I did leave the demo feeling confident that publisher Enhance Games and developer Monstars — with original Rez producer, Tetsuya Mizuguchi, at the helm — is treating Rez Infinite just right by leaving the original experience almost entirely intact. While the game might not be new or robust enough to be a system seller for PlayStation VR, it’s definitely a welcome experience for fans of the original game. Check out the video below to see the game in motion.

Rez Infinite is available later this year on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation VR.


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