Of all the classic titles that Sony could have plucked from its back catalogue for a PlayStation VR makeover, Rez was the obvious choice.
The result, Rez Infinite, takes the cyberspatial core of Tetsuya Mizuguchi's original game and manages to both preserve its thumping heart and enhance the hallucinogenic experience via Sony's virtual reality headset.
Mizuguchi's audiovisual odyssey transformed the very definition of a rhythm-based video game. Initially released on Sega's Dreamcast in 2001, before later being ported to the PS2, Rez remains one of the finest examples of a simple concept executed to perfection in gaming history.
On paper, Rez is a fairly standard rail shooter of the Space Harrier or Panzer Dragoon ilk, but with a hyper-stylised wire-frame and voxel aesthetic to complement the usual suite of power-ups, time trials and colossal boss fights.
The game's trick lies in its aural and physical feedback loop, dubbed as "Synesthesia" by its creator. The resulting combination of Rez's sublime, adaptive electronica soundtrack, digital sound effects, and controller rumble creates a hypnotic, trance-like state – especially if you pop on a decent pair of headphones.
In virtual reality, this effect is enhanced tenfold and represents arguably the best use to date of VR's capacity to engulf the senses.
Rez's pulsing geometric shapes lose none of their technicolor grandeur on PSVR and controlling the aiming reticule with head movements in conjunction with a controller in VR mode feels natural, accurate and furthers the kinetic feel of gameplay. While your neck can start to feel the strain after a few frenzied waves of attacking enemies, the short 'story' mode and option to switch to traditional second stick aiming (or with a Move controller) helps ease any potential aches and pains.
However, Rez Infinite is not just a virtual reality reimagining. This is the Rez of old in its final, true form, offering non-PSVR players a chance to sample its stunning, almost transcendental delights with a traditional PS4 and TV set-up – all rendered in full 1080p and at 60 frames per second (with 4K support already promised for when the PS4 Pro arrives).
This alone would make Rez Infinite an essential purchase for PSVR adopters and existing PS4 owners alike, but the real treat in Infinite's arsenal is its new "Area X" mode, which breaks free from the on-rails action and gives us an all-too-brief glimpse at what could become Rez 2.
With acceleration controls mapped to the triggers and fully 3D avatar movement, Area X's free-floating playground of pixels is a celestial dreamscape, with distinct ember-like art design that lightly differentiates itself from the original Rez experience.
As utterly astonishing as it is to see Rez's legendary "Area 5" in virtual reality for the first time, Area X is simply breathtaking and merits the asking price alone.
Lovingly remade in high definition and enhanced via optional PlayStation VR support, Rez Infinite crystallises, polishes and preserves Rez's legacy, making it an essential purchase for PSVR adopters and standard PS4 owners alike. The untethered 3D-cyberspace of Area X presents a tantalising vision of the IP's potential future and adds an extra layer to what is undoubtedly the definitive edition of Mizuguchi's masterpiece.