There was only one game for me the last few months.
I originally played Rez on Dreamcast in college.
I bootlegged it and burned it to compact disc because it had only been released in Japan or something and I was a college student with a less strict view of intellectual property in 2001. (Also, I had faster internet 16 years ago than today.)
The bootleg version crashed when I beat the game. I never saw the ending or unlocked Beyond Mode. I played Rez enough to knew I loved it. But I didn’t really experience Rez.
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I finally bought a PS2 way late, in 2004, and bought Rez (which was hard to find in the US.)
I played it deeply since it didn’t like, crash at the end when you unlock all the new stuff.
I experienced Rez. I loved Rez.
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Rez is a rail shooter – which is a genre that barely even exists anymore. Enemies come at you, and your character moves “on rails” through a 3D environment.
But you just focus on shooting things quickly.
Rez is a rail shooter that takes place in a computer. You are a hacker trying to purge a system, but the story is, it doesn’t matter.
What matters is that unlike normal sound effects and music, Rez invokes a near synesthesia by tightly coupling the sound, electronic music, vibration, and gameplay.
It’s the details and the multi sensory interactivity coming together that makes it… unique.
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*Rez*HD for XBox 360 Live came out in 2008.
I experienced Rez again.
But I began to practice Rez.
I would play Direct Assault mode (which takes about an hour) every day after work for days on end.
I unlocked pretty much everything I never got to 100% on the Level 5 to get pink butterflies because I’m not insane or that good, but I did become a Morolian which is its own amazing form of a true happy ending.
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Almost a decade later, in June of 2017 I decided I needed to play Rez again. I began with a Dreamcast emulator on my PC because I had no way to easily play XBLA games - and it’s funny because 16 years later a bootlegged copy running in a virtual Dreamcast doesn’t crash when I beat it, so I could continue on to Beyond mode.
Life is very strange sometimes.
Some people meditate when they want to find inner truth and peace in times of need but for me I reached for a game that was designed as a synesthesia art project and eventually shipped a vibrator accessory.
But, earnestly, because it was my practice.
And I beat it again, many times, because I needed to.
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Then, out of nowhere, Rez Infinite (which was a PS4 exclusive, thus inaccessible to me) was announced and immediately released for PC, with VR support.
There are so few genuine surprises in life anymore, and even fewer that fill me with pure joy.
This was one of them.
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Rez Infinite enables Rez to be played at higher resolutions and on PC, but most importantly, it enables VR support on HTC Vive (which I own.)
I’ve written a little about VR but, in some ways, all my experiences with VR weren’t important before **RezInfinite.
In VR, Rez isn’t a practice or a thing to even know or love.
Rez Infinite is Rez. But I’m in it.
It’s everywhere. All around me.
I am Rez.
You are Rez, when you’re there.
We are a way for Rez to know itself.
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The mechanics within VR made Rez– which at times had been a frustratingly difficult experience that I memorized and wrote into my brain and damaged my thumbs and made my eyes water – easier. Natural. At times almost trivial.
By fully immersing myself – by becoming one with Rez – I could do almost anything in the game.
(I saw the butterfly ending on my first playthrough.)
And it was even more satisfying and amazing than the first time I played the bootleg 16 years ago.
My heart swells every time I hear Fear in Level 5.
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Rez was a masterpiece.
Rez Infinite is a master work, fully realized, that somehow presaged a new medium and makes better use of it than most works birthed in the VR era.
I needed it to exist, and I’m grateful that it does.
People debate video games as art, but it’s hard to explain that Rez Infinite as art is almost missing the point. It’s just beyond our normal understanding of experiences.
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