Rez has done it again then. It seems that with every iteration of the synesthetic on-rails shooter I change my stance and tell people that, no, this is the definitive version of the game; the one that surpasses all others. The Dreamcast game was an intriguing early attempt marred by framerate issues; these were less noticeable in the PS2 game but everything still looked a little too fuzzy for anyone to think that it was flawless. The release of Rez HD on seventh-generation machines cleaned up the crisp laser lines and kept everything super-smooth, but you still got the feeling that you were looking at a recollection of someone else’s journey through an abstract and fascinating landscape. Rez Infinite? It’s something else entirely. No longer do you feel like you’re gazing into an incredible wireframe environment from the outside; you’re finally a part of the game’s world, and the effect is astonishing.
The skeleton of the game is still familiar to Rez veterans; you must lock on to and shoot down targets, collecting overdrives and progress nodes that act as smart bombs and health respectively. Each area is broken into ten layer levels, and at the end of the tenth layer level is a boss. Your journey through an area ends when you’ve either beaten the area boss or taken too many hits. However, in the confines of the PSVR helmet you are fully enveloped in the gameworld, and the sense of depth breathes new life into classic scenes. Reach the pre-boss sequence in Area 3 and those bouncing cubes and rippling shockwaves evoke an intensity that was only hinted at in previous iterations of the game. Meanwhile, the infamous “running man” boss of Area 4 is a rollercoaster ride through twisting tunnels, staged as an exhilarating chase against a boss that now seems to tower above your viewpoint at times. Make no mistake, if you’re a fan of Rez and buy into the idea of surrendering your senses to the game’s world, Infinite accomplishes that sensation better than anything before.
And then there’s Area X. A new area exclusive to Infinite, this is almost worth the entrance fee alone. Picking up where Child of Eden left off, this is a world inhabited not by Tron machines and vector shapes, but by particles, glass and organic life. The rails pull you forward but your view wraps around a 360 degree sphere, and subtle indicators on the reticule guide you towards where you should be focusing. The world itself is always glistening with particles and crisp bright lines, whilst the wraparound view and manual acceleration helps to make it feel like a genuine journey rather than a rollercoaster ride. It’s a spectacular feat of development and production, and it makes you feel like this is what Vibes, Rez and Child of Eden were always working towards.
If you buy into VR for realism rather than abstraction, or if rail shooters leave you cold, Rez Infinite might not be the game for you. However, as someone who has seen this game develop and improve through several iterations, this feels like the vision for the game that Mizuguchi always had but could never fully realise. It’s hard to imagine where you could go from here; the transition from being a spectator of the world to becoming a VR-enabled inhabitant seemed like the next logical step, and Area X completes the experience and leaves you breathless. I still have a lot of other PSVR games to try in the future, so it’s too soon to say whether or not Rez Infinite is the pick of the bunch, but it sets a strong challenge for any self-proclaimed “killer apps” and is well worth experiencing.
PlayStation VR is available now for £349.99. All PSVR games require the PSVR hardware and a PlayStation Camera. Some games may need PS3 Move Controllers, but Rez Infinite was played on a DualShock 4 Controller.