I'm not normally one for anniversaries - there's already enough to remind me how old I'm getting every time I look in the mirror, thank you very much - but this one hit hard. Rez, originally the work of Sega's United Games Artists that first launched on PlayStation 2 and Dreamcast back in the winter of 2001, has turned 20 years old. Old enough, it turns out, to spend a night on the tiles chewing its face off to some sweet tunes.
Rez isn't exactly one of the most successful of games, or the most revered, but for people of a certain age it was a deeply formative thing. I'd just turned 20 upon its release, harbouring artistic pretensions at Goldsmiths and going through one of those phases where I'd briefly fallen out of love with video games, passing them over for other more hedonistic pursuits. Rez sort of snapped everything back into sharp focus, a convergence of high art with club culture, delivered with the arcade chops of Sega in its pomp. It was Kandinsky refracted through a ketamine prism, playing out like a perfectly quantised Afterburner where your missiles scattered like high hats and each explosion was a ground pounding 808 beat.
So yes, Rez made me sit up and take notice. It opened my eyes to what video games could be, and made me want to poke around a bit more at the people and ideas behind them. It made me start picking up that enjoyably pretentious mag Edge again, and start wondering how I might get to be pretentious about video games myself for a living some day. So I guess it led me here, in its own funny way. Sorry about that.
More importantly, it's given me 20 years of pure joy. Rez is a short thing to see through, and like its arcade predecessors it won't take more than 60 minutes to see its credits roll. But lord knows how many times I've played it through now - it's something I return to like a favourite album, enjoying it in new contexts and sometimes whole new perspectives.
It's something I've played cross-legged on the floor of my old basement flat in Brighton, taking respite from a heavy-hitting day-trip and rushing up when Adam Freeland's Fear properly drops. I played it on Xbox 360 with a couple of extra controllers stuffed down the back of my shirt for the full sensory experience. Some years later, I was lucky enough to get kitted up in the Synesthesia Suit when Rez Infinite was first shown off in VR at Sony's showcase in San Francisco, as full-on an experience in its own way as that one all those years ago in a small Brighton flat.
And I've likely unnerved Rez producer Tetsuya Mizuguchi as I've repeatedly requested his time over the years since I've started doing this, seeing him take a brief break from the industry and then getting to report first-hand on his return. Apologies for badgering you so much, Mizuguchi-san. It's just that I'm still so totally smitten with this very special game you made 20 years ago, and have been fascinated by your team's output ever since.
And apologies for being so grossly self-indulgent as we celebrate Rez's 20th anniversary - it's a game I've prattled on about repeatedly over those years, and on its birthday all that's left to say is how much it means to me, as I'm sure it means to so many of you. So thanks, Rez - and here's to another 20 years of getting lost in your magical 60 minutes.
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