Postcard Review: Rez

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(Editor’s note: In the Postcard Review, members of the Pixelitis staff write small, easily digestible reviews big enough to ‘fit on a postcard’ – hence the title. It can be about the whole experience or just a small piece of the pie. No scores needed.)

When a game carries the label “experimental” it can potentially doom itself in sales.

Players seem to generally gravitate towards the familiar, but experimental games break boundaries and explore what games can accomplish as an art form. So where does this place Rez? Is it an arthouse game that belongs in the MOMA? Or is it an overlooked gem that challenged commercial expectations with grace and gall?

For those unfamiliar with the game, Rez is a rail-shooter that first debuted on Dreamcast. The player assumes the role of a computer hacker, battling viruses and firewalls in a very surreal Tron-like world. The hacker’s main goal is to convince an all powerful AI named Eden not to kill itself. The story is only mentioned on the back of the case, and in-game, the player is presented with strange Kubrickian images that only hint at the plot. Despite all the ambiguous imagery and conceptual theories, the game is very simple.

Gameplay is not unlike Star Fox: the player moves forward on-rails, aiming a cross-hair and shooting down opposing forces. The game’s music notably correlates with the shooting, creating a very visceral and primal connection between the player and the game. While the story and concepts can certainly be considered high art, the game itself is easily accessible to anyone that can aim and push a button.

Rez may not break any boundaries with gameplay, but what the game flaunts brilliantly is that it’s an arcade game in disguise as modern art.

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Author: Stephen Hilger View all posts by
Stephen Hilger is a recent graduate of Rutgers University. He has a BA in English and his favorite word is "tepid." His involvement with video games most heavily began with ""Duck Hunt" and it has been a blossoming relationship ever since. In addition to writing for Pixelitis, Stephen is also a stand-up comedian and involved in the performing arts both as an actor and writer.