In 2001, Sega and United Game Artists released an on-rails shooter for the Dreamcast called Rez. It was nothing short of a sensory revolution.
Appearing at first glance to be a simple on-rails shooter with some neat wireframe visuals, Rez didn’t show its true colours until you sat down with it yourself, focused on the screen, gripped the controller, took your first few shots and realised, uh, wait, is everything I’m doing matching the beat of this soundtrack? Even though I’m doing whatever the hell I want?
How is this possible?
Rez was the brainchild of Tetsuya Mizuguchi (Space Channel 5, Lumines, Tetris Effect), and while its initial sales were terrible, the game has won itself a well-deserved and enduring fanbase that has seen it re-released on everything from the PS2 to the Xbox 360 to an expanded and upgraded edition that dropped on the PS4 in 2018.
I’ve got a special place in my heart for the Dreamcast original, but I also understand anyone who is partial to the PS2 edition since it was compatible with the game’s vibrating peripheral, called the Trance Vibrator, whose illustrious history we’ve celebrated previously.
I know we now live in an age of video gaming where thanks to a proliferation of experimental indie titles it feels like the games x music thing has been done one million different ways, but it’s important to remember that in 1999, when Rez first dropped, that wasn’t the case. This was some pioneering shit, and even twenty years on, its combination of classy, minimal visuals and a thumping electronic soundtrack make it look like something you could play for the first time today and, when told it actually came out in 1999, you simply would not believe it.
In honour of the game’s birthday, this video was released today collecting a bunch of fans from around the world—artists, musicians, writers—all recounting their experiences with the game and what made it so special. It’s very sweet! It’s also making me feel old as hell.