Eighteen years ago, Rez was released and lifted the bar for game creation. Developed by United Game Artists and published by Sega, the game was later remade into Rez HD and Rez Infinite for Playstation VR. We can attest to the popularity of the game as nearly twenty years after the first release, our Limited Physical Edition of Rez Infinite for the PS4 sold out straight away (as with our other sold out physical editions, we wish we had kept one for ourselves)! With this in mind we set our sights on the Rez Infinite Vinyl Soundtrack.
The Rez Infinite Vinyl Soundtrack is a collector’s box set which includes a completely remastered orange-coloured 2xLP of the soundtrack from the original Rez, in addition to a bonus 7-inch vinyl featuring music from the new “Area X” content. This soundtrack also comes with an art book, providing a comprehensive history of the development of the game and its techno-trance score. In our opinion, this gorgeous box-set has been flying under the radar and is destined to go down as a bona-fide video game collectable; especially as we have very limited quantities left.
Let’s take a closer look.
My first impression on handling this box-set is that photos do not do it justice. Only when you hold it in your own hands can one truly appreciate the textures and high quality construction that photography cannot capture.
Full disclosure, trance/techno is not my usual go to music, so I was actually initially drawn to the art book rather than the actual vinyl. The book introduces us to the game designer, Tetsuya Mizuguchi. We get an insight into his background, early aspirations and his entrance into the gaming industry. From there we learn more about the development of the game and the accompanying music, to the point of the original release of Rez.
Early in his career with Sega, Tetsuya commenced with creating arcade games followed by the development of racing games. It is refreshing to read how candidly Tetsuya speaks about his experiences and two main things stood out:
The first was that he realised that failure is temporary and not permanent and this served as an opportunity to identify areas for improvement. Secondly, Tetsuya recognised that he was not living his dream, he then built up the courage to take the step to pursue his passion.
With these ideas at the back of his mind, inspiration for the game Rez materialised at a music festival in 1998. Tetsuya used his creative imagination to develop the original concept, his aim was to incorporate the senses with synchronised music to allow for synaesthesia and harmonisation of the senses. Synaesthesia is the phenomenon where the stimulation of one sense can create a reaction in another sense, resulting in someone hearing colour or seeing sound. It almost looked like he was trying to bring his own experience from the music festival, into the world of video games.
A new team was formed and Tetsuya pushed for the chance to work in the district of Shibuya, a culture rich area, where artists, galleries and the unique fashion scene could lead to more inspiration. The diversity of the nearby environment enabled the team to focus on developing something that had never been done before.
From the inception of the idea and formation of the new team, they move on to the research and testing stages. Simplicity was a key focus and Tetsuya noted, “I wanted them to give me something that was very pure and primitive.” Tetsuya observed the attitudes of the artists, “their desire wasn’t just to create and produce, they were very interested and curious in combining their work with other forms of media.” The team took a collaborative approach in combining the visual artistry together with the music. This ended up being one of the key tenets of Rez which synchronises stunning visuals with the musical elements; achieving Synaesthesia in the game world.
The game play manual narrative is featured below:
“In the near future, a computer system called ‘K-Project’ is developed to help combat rampant overpopulation and crime. The system is controlled by a powerful AI known as Eden. But as Eden ascends to self-awareness, it becomes confused by the massive influx of information, its many contradictions and even what it means to exist.
Does she exist?
Does the world?
To defend herself, Eden begins shutting down, threatening the very world she was made to save. As the hacker, you must penetrate Eden’s defences, shooting down viruses and breaking firewalls to “re-awaken” Eden and save the world.”
Rez was released to the world at the Sony Playstation 2 party, in Shibuya, on the 26thof June 2001. There was no introduction, no conclusion. With a game almost impossible to put into words, Tetsuya let the game itself do the talking.
The reveal included three incredible minutes of game play with the audio on its highest volume and Tetsuya recalls, “I could see the members and the party-goers and the people from our industry – their jaws just dropped. They didn’t know what they just witnessed, I was on a complete high.”
After reading the art-book, I can honestly say that I was taken through a creative journey of how Rez came to life; only some of which has been touched upon here. This ultimately resulted in a renewed appreciation when listening to the vinyl and trance in the morning has now become a thing in our household…