Developer(s): United Game Artists, Q Entertainment

Platform(s): PS2, Dreamcast

Release Date: Jan 2002

Ah, the age-old debate over whether or not video games can be considered ‘art’. This argument has raged since…well, since myself and my flat mate stayed up late one night and got a little over tired. Something as derogatory as a video game tends to be ridiculed when it is suggested as an art form. This is generally because when the term video game arises, images of simplistic games like Super Mario or stupidly violent games like Call of Duty tend to arise. And while Rez does not necessarily settle this ‘video games as art’ debate, it certainly provides a strong argument.

The Set-up:

All right, I’m not 100% sure what this game is about. There is a lot of shooting, music seems to play a big role, and it seems to take place in a robots acid trip. This all might sound messy (after all, who knows what robots do when they’re high?)*, but it is actually a tightly structured experience. There is a story here somewhere. Wikipedia may have an answer…


All right, well according to the manual, the game takes place in a computer system known as the K-project, which is controlled by an AI called Eden. Eden has been so overwhelmed with knowledge that she has come to doubt her own existence and entered a shutdown sequence. You play as a hacker that enters the K-system to shoot down viruses and firewalls and eventually reboot Eden.

…..well I suppose that makes sense! It fits in with what you will experience anyway, should you play this game. The story itself isn’t massively important, though it will certainly help to decipher the absolutely trippin’-balls 2001: A Space Odyssey-like ending. What is important is the actual gameplay, which is quite an experience. Whether or not it counts as ‘art’ is ambiguous, but it is certainly enjoyable.

As tempting as it is to say, Rez does not quite fall into the category of the ‘shooter’ genre. For just about every movement or action you make, the soundtrack of the game responds. Each stage has a unique techno track which alternates depending on your progress through the level. Do poorly and it slows almost to a crawl, emphasizing the bass. Pick up a power up or two, zap five or six viruses at once and suddenly the entire screen becomes a living and breathing rave party. This is an incredible effect in that it totally immerses the player into the action.

The game itself is divided across a mere five stages, with one extra secret stage that can be unlocked once the game has been completed. Considering how desperate game developers seem to be to consume the lives of players nowadays (*cough Skyrim cough*), this seems very sparse. Despite the fact that a death will send you back to the start of the level, a mere two hours of solid gameplay will probably see you through to the end credits. It’s not exceptionally long, but perhaps this is no bad thing. What intrigues about this game is the potential variety that each level offers.

Once the game has been cleared, there is a very good chance that you will find yourself restarting immediately, just to see how well you can do on the first levels, after having improved over the course of the game. You may find yourself leveling up far more often, or using less overdrives (a three-second power-up that is as effective as Ctrl+Alt+Del). Once the game has been cleared, new modes open up such as a typical score attack mode or the direct assault mode, which allows you to take the entire game on as one massive level.

There is a lot to be said for the visuals of this game. Though the majority of it consists of wire models and a mess of computer coding, it moves so fluidly in sync with the music that it can genuinely take the breath away. The music itself is also infectiously catchy, even at it’s worst. And while these are important factors, the core element of Rez is its gameplay, which is pure and simple unadulterated fun.

A bit short by todays standard. While the ability to alter each tune adds considerable length to the game’s lifespan, a few more stages would have really added depth. This is but a small qualm however. Rez takes a brave step in being different from any other game on the market at the time. Dazzlingly beautiful to experience and incessantly fun to play. Even if only once, every gamer should experience the synesthesia of Rez.

Rating: 8/10

“The system is trying to shut down, trapping you inside…defend yourself” – K-system

Shamelessly Awful Facts:

  • Much of this game is inspired by Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky.
  • This really is shamelessly awful…In Japan, a Trance vibrator add-on was included with the special edition of the game. Originally designed to be kept in one’s pocket or sat on while playing, it was also known for being used in a sex toy. Strangely, it was ranked #1 gaming peripheral by ScrewAttack in 2007. Click here for proof.

This game is kind of like:

  • A Tron movie where Daft Punk provide the soundtrack (I would say Tron Legacy, but then people might think this game isn’t any good.)


  • What you optimistically thought night clubs were going to be like when you were a teenager
Published in: on January 13, 2012 at 1:01 am  Comments (3)  
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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. It’s a real thing. I read an article about it while you were……somewhere else

  2. Guud review tho

  3. Screwattack were joking!!

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