Rez In­fi­nite

We suit up and strap in for a clas­sic re­born in VR

EDGE - - GAMES - De­vel­oper En­hance Games, Mon­star Pub­lisher En­hance Games For­mat PS4 Ori­gin Ja­pan Release Q3/Q4 2016


W e can­not speak, which in this line of work is some­thing of a prob­lem. We’ve just played Rez In­fi­nite while wear­ing a PlaySta­tion VR head­set, a pair of 7.1 head­phones and the Sy­naes­the­sia Suit – not the span­gly Daft Punk out­fit Tet­suya Mizuguchi wore on stage at PSX, but a pro­to­type, a morass of straps, sen­sors and Vel­cro dreamed up by Rez’s cre­ator and de­signed with the help of his stu­dents at Keio Univer­sity. It fea­tures 26 dif­fer­ent points of vi­bra­tion, making our arms, legs and torso rip­ple in time to the ac­tion. Were we wear­ing the suit while play­ing the Dream­cast orig­i­nal on a creaky old CRT, it would be merely scin­til­lat­ing. Con­sumed via PlaySta­tion VR, at 120fps, it’s sim­ply spell­bind­ing. And so af­ter we’ve de-suited, sat down next to Mizuguchi and been asked how we feel, we sim­ply don’t know what to say.

Hap­pily, he doesn’t seem of­fended. “When you first look at an amaz­ing piece of art, you tend to have that same re­ac­tion,” he says. “You don’t know what words de­scribe it. That’s quite nor­mal.” Dur­ing a VR-fo­cused dis­cus­sion the night be­fore, he had drawn com­par­i­son to a baby’s first word: you know it’s com­ing, but have no idea what it might be. Or, in our case, when it will even come.

Ad­mit­tedly, one word does spring to mind. Mizuguchi has been quite open about the in­spi­ra­tion for Rez be­ing the times he spent in fields full of peo­ple on var­i­ous min­dal­ter­ing sub­stances. More than any other game, Rez has long been the choice of the drug bores: oh, you sim­ply must play it stoned. Well, no longer. The game in VR, and the suit into which we’re so tautly strapped, are in­tox­i­cat­ing enough. And our vest­ments’ vi­bra­tions have clearly been en­gi­neered by a man who has danced through his fair share of sun­rises. Tin­gles flow down the arms. Drum­rolls dance across the chest like gun­fire. One tran­si­tion be­tween an area’s lay­ers sees the vi­bra­tion home in on the pit of the stom­ach, which just might be a facsimile of a spe­cific nar­cotic sen­sa­tion de­signed by some­one who has felt it many times.

The suit is a marvel, but it’s more in­stal­la­tion piece than pe­riph­eral, too cost­pro­hibitive for the store shelf and surely des­tined in­stead to a life on the event cir­cuit. No mat­ter: even with­out it, Rez In­fi­nite is an ab­so­lute de­light. Full 360-de­gree head track­ing means lin­ing up tar­gets is a sim­ple mat­ter of hold­ing X on the DualShock 4 in your hand, look­ing at them one by one, then let­ting the but­ton go. It feels like it was made for VR all along. In­deed, if Mizuguchi’s to be be­lieved, it was al­ways meant to be.

“When the orig­i­nal con­cept came to­gether, the im­age I had in my head was Rez in vir­tual re­al­ity. We all know the lim­i­ta­tions we had at that time in terms of out­put – 4:3 tube TVs with poor res­o­lu­tion and sound. I had this vi­sion, but I had to trim it and squeeze it into the pa­ram­e­ters of the specs avail­able.

“To me it was a work in progress, a step to­wards the vi­sion in my head. Fast for­ward 15 years and I’m able to relieve my­self of the stress that was caused by hav­ing to put it into such a small screen. That weight is lifted from my shoul­ders, be­cause I’m able to cre­ate the Rez I al­ways wanted.” It’s a con­vinc­ing ar­gu­ment, if only be­cause it feels like it would never be cre­ated as a VR game from the ground up to­day, since it flies in the face of too much ac­cepted wis­dom. It creates fan­tasy, when most strive to repli­cate re­al­ity. It’s viewed, con­trary to the emerg­ing in­dus­try stan­dard, in third­per­son. It of­fers 360-de­gree move­ment with no solid ground to give you your bear­ings. And the cam­era abruptly shifts its gaze by 90 or 180 de­grees when­ever it feels like it. It shouldn’t work, yet the re­sult is one of the most con­vinc­ing use cases the mod­ern VR scene has pro­duced.

Mizuguchi’s PSX stage demo ended with a flash of a new area – is that a bonus level, or the start of some­thing new? “All I can say is that in my head it would be the lat­ter,” the de­signer replies. “It would rep­re­sent a new Rez, not just a new area. To­day’s tech­nol­ogy is go­ing to al­low me to prop­erly ex­press the Rez I al­ways dreamed of.” Lord only knows how long it will take our brains to process that.

“When you first look at an amaz­ing piece of art, you tend to have that same re­ac­tion”

Tet­suya Mizuguchi, founder and CEO of En­hance Games

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