Last Updated 2009.01.18
The first time I tried Rez, I was very impressed. Images and sounds from it passed through my mind constantly over the next few days. For me, this tends to be a sign that I've found something worthwhile. After I bought my own copy and played through it again, I discovered more depth and detail that increased my appreciation. The fifth area alone presents one of the most immersive artistic experiences I've ever encountered.
Words and screenshots can't accurately describe the experience of Rez, but if asked to describe it I might say that the gameplay sort of resembles the video game Space Harrier, and the graphics sort of resemble the movie Tron. Sort of. And the backbone of the game is its music, an excellent electronic soundtrack that is inseparably tied to both the visuals and the player's actions. I think that synchronization of sound and graphics (as seen in demoscene productions) is underused in video games, and I doubt it's ever been used to the extent it is in Rez.
"The first thing we did was decide on musicians. They had to understand what we were trying to do with the game - not only the music, but the visual design as well. That was important."
I've read reviews that complain that Rez is too short. I agree only in the sense that I don't like a good book or video game to end. I like being able to play the game through in one sitting, and there are few, if any, video games that I've replayed more than this one.
The creators of Rez cite Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky as part of their inspiration. His abstract work dealt with synaesthesia, a merging or overlapping of the senses.
"Old games, like maybe 20 years ago, were like this - vector scan and wireframes. But Rez isn't being nostalgic. The look is a conscious choice. Current games are a little too real now - there's no room for interpretation. But I think Rez is an experience, so I didn't want to put lifelike graphics in it."
Rez was developed by United Game Artists, one of Sega's development teams. It was released for the Sega Dreamcast in Japan and Europe, and later for the Playstation 2 in Japan and the United States. Unfortunately, production in the USA was extremely limited.
Update: In 2008, "Rez HD" was released as a downloadable game for XBOX 360.
Official Rez site
A newer official site
Andrew Vestal's review (originally at thegia.com, and how I learned of Rez)