Rez is sixteen years old. How this happened is a mystery and don’t try to mention “the arrow of time” or “you’re old, ha ha!”, because if it hasn’t happened to you yet it’s going to far earlier than you’ll believe possible. Time passed and I changed from a part-timer at Electronics Boutique, sneaking Rez into the PS2 kiosk and making sure it had prime shelf facing at every opportunity, into whatever it is I am now. I imported the Japanese version with the trancevibrator, bought Rez again on XBLA, picked it up again (cheap) on the Qubed compilation so I’d have it sitting on my shelf a third time, and regretfully passed on the PS4 version because I don’t use that console as much as I’d like to. I even lent my Dreamcast broadband adapter to the person who used it to dump the K-Project Rez beta, which was a nice surprise when I found out what it was for. Sometimes I don’t play Rez for years at a time before it pops back into my life again and it’s always welcome when it reappears. Now it’s out on my current platform of choice, PC, and even lovelier than ever. It’s also, oddly enough, an easier game on there.
Rez was initially designed with an analog stick in mind, and the entire game is tuned to the cursor moving at a set maximum rate. That’s actually fairly zippy, and while the mouse can be more precise it’s not any faster, but in VR the cursor rockets along as fast as you can point. You could use the look-targeting, if want to give your neck muscles a thorough workout, but point & shoot is so much faster and easier there’s no real reason to use anything else if you’ve got the hardware. While it does feel a bit like playing Rez on easy mode, somehow that doesn’t end up being a problem.
Rez was never about the challenge of precision. Yes, you can score-chase, wringing every last point out of a level with as many x8 lock-ons as possible, but the real joy and maybe even the entire point of the game is just to play it. Fly down the course, target enemies that only occasionally shoot back as the sound of firing your lock-on laser synchs up with the beat, and sink into the music while the tempo builds from one area to the next. Score is just something that happens along the way, there to be worked on if you like but not all that important. Playing Rez with high-speed precision control may make the game easier, but it also makes it more immediate and engaging. Swipe to tag everyone while keeping the 8-beat count in your head for maximum lock-on when available, release, repeat. The ease of the targeting means you can mentally jam to Boogie Running Beats or the killer drums of Rock is Sponge with fewer distractions, making the experience much more the synaesthetic shooter that Rez should be.
Rez has always been a personal favorite and Rez Infinite on PC feels like the final definitive form of the game. It runs at crazy-high resolution, supports multiple control schemes you can switch to on the fly and edit to your heart’s content in the options, and the new Area X is absolutely beautiful. It’s also a signpost for the direction a sequel could go, and with any luck a tease for an actual Rez 2 as well. The content is identical to the PS4 version, of course, with all the unlockable modes and extra plus VR support. Anyone playing it on Sony’s console would have seen all this months ago, but for those of us who made the choice of PC VR over PS VR, Rez Infinite is the best version of a game that was already a classic. Anything that can stand the test of sixteen years and still feel as fresh, unique and fun as it did on the day it came out has earned the right to the frequently-overused title of Classic, and somehow Rez has not only held its ground but gotten better over the years. That’s an amazing feat for any game and if Rez had to learn a few new VR tricks along the way to make that happen, it’s an incredible way to see an old favorite in a brand new light.