I don’t think my blogging norms really require me to blog about Rez HD: it’s a remake of a game I’ve played before, and a remake that doesn’t stray from the original as far as I can remember. So I’m really replaying a game, not playing a game for the first time, and as such it doesn’t inherently require comment. Still, it’s been a while since I played the original, long enough ago that I didn’t blog about it here, so a post wouldn’t be out of place.
Though it would be nice if I had something to say about the game! And the truth is: I don’t. I enjoyed playing it, I’m glad to have replayed it, and I’m glad that it exists purely because of how different it is from almost every other game out there. If I were trying to write a review, I would find something descriptive to say, but that’s not my goal in blogging; and the game’s distinctive qualities don’t fit into analytical categories that I’m at all comfortable with.
Should I talk about the fifth level, perhaps? The evolutionary narrative that it brings out? The way that evolutionary narrative positions the imagery from the first four levels as the culmination of a transhumanist narrative? (Or perhaps rather: flags that transhumanist imagery as explicitly posthumanist.) How does the repeated Dune quote fit into that viewpoint, if at all? (I would be tempted to reread that book to see, but I think I’ve read it enough times that doing so again wouldn’t make anything about the game particularly obvious.) Are the enemies in the last level more likely to be modeled on organic shapes than enemies in the previous levels? Are there worms in the previous levels? I don’t think there’s anything non-superficial going on with the worms, but I could be wrong.
And then there’s the final boss fight. A fight that I don’t feel at all comfortable with at the start, when I’m told by somebody afraid that I shouldn’t come closer. But soon enough I’m being asked to help her; and I think I am, but at the end of the credits I learn that she’s still trapped within. If the game were less abstract, I might try to unpack the gender politics there; it’s abstract, enough, though, that I’ll give that a miss beyond acknowledging my discomfort at a couple of different levels. (The way that it ties in to the evolutionary theme also contributes to my willingness to give it a pass, I suppose.)
I don’t want to say that the game is all about the last level; and I like the architectural imagery of all the bosses, I like the vehicular imagery of various of the enemies. Is that the Tron fan in me, or are both pulling on some sort of deeper reservoir? Or maybe it’s not very deep, it’s just that vehicles are a natural way to represent something that’s both artificial and active, buildings are a natural way to represent artificial space.
I dunno. Child of Eden is up next, maybe that game will illuminate this one in retrospect. And I fully support the existence of games that are short, mysterious, and enjoyable.
This post has not been revised since publication.