Rez is a musical on-rails shooter that blurs the line between user input and audio/visual feedback, creating a unique sensory experience.


Rez is an on-rails shooter with a behind-the-back perspective that calls to mind similar games, like Panzer Dragoon or Space Harrier. The game is notable for its artistic style and an amalgamation of audio, visuals, and user input, inspired by a neurological effect known as synesthesia. The game draws inspiration from the work of Wassily Kandinsky, a Russian painter who also considered synesthesia in his works. Presumably, this is where Rez's prototype name, "K-Project" came from.

Sensory Overload
Sensory Overload

The visual style of Rez is another very unique aspect. The game has a vector-stylized look to it, but as you progress, the enemies and environments grow in complexity and motion. A level may start as a simple flat plane wireframe, but eventually by the 10th layer be a cyber-rendering of the Taj Mahal. All of the environments move and fluctuate with the beat, adding to the synaesthesic effect of the game.

The game was originally published by Sega and developed by United Game Artists, the internal Sega team headed up by Tetsuya Mizuguchi, for the Dreamcast and PlayStation 2. In early 2008, Mizuguchi's new company, Q Entertainment, was responsible for bringing Rez to the Xbox 360 under the name Rez HD. Rez HD employs 5.1 surround sound, in addition to 720p rendering and 4x anti-aliasing, giving the game a previous unachieved audio/visual fidelity. It was unanimously hailed by critics as a massive improvement for a game of this nature.


Epileptic Dynamite
Epileptic Dynamite

The story is that of an AI that governs the world's networks, known as Eden. The AI perpetually gathers up all the knowledge in the world, until one day, becoming self-aware, shuts herself down, crippling the outside world. The player plays as a nameless hacker, attempting to break through her self-imposed firewalls and reboot the system. Each level represents an ancient society, be it Greece, Egypt, or Mesopotamia. The final level, Area 5, is the story of evolution of life, told through small text blurbs in between each segment.


The core gameplay in Rez involves moving an on-screen reticle over targets and locking-on to them by holding down the fire button. When the button is released, up to eight homing shots can be released to eliminate enemies. The player also has a limited number of smart bombs that turns on automatic fire to eliminate most nearby enemies for a brief period of time. However, what sets this game apart from all others of its ilk is that with every lock on, every shot fired, and every missile deployed, a sound is made that is tonally aligned with the music and synched up with the beat. In addition to the enemies all having these attributes, this creates the effect of the user essentially improvising the song as they play. Each level contains 10 "layers", each with an evolved version of the music, so the songs build up in a crescendo, always climaxing with the boss fights. Every action you make in this game, whether it be shooting an enemy, picking up a power-up, or simply even progressing to the next stage, has an aural component to it, which, when taken together with the background music and visual spectacle, creates a very unique pseudo-rhythm-game feel.

Scoring System

Scoring in Rez centers entirely around multipliers based on the number of lock-ons a player has. For example, firing single shots nets no multiplier, while locking on to four objects nets a 4x multiplier. Higher level players memorize enemy patterns and try to get 8x multipliers as frequently as possible, as well as figure out tricks to milk the bosses for as many lock-ons as possible.


The in-game soundtrack contains edited versions of various electronic music compositions. The game takes elements from the compositions and creates a dynamic music soundtrack by mapping certain musical elements to various parts of the on-screen action. The songs were later released in their original form on the official soundtrack, entitled "Rez: Gamer's Guide To...", released on CD and 12" formats.


  • [Area 01] Keiichi Sugiyama - Buggy Running Beeps
    • Digital Athletics
      Digital Athletics
      [Area 02] Mist - Protocol Rain
    • [Area 03] Ken Ishii - Creation State of the Art (Parts 1-6)
    • [Area 04] Joujouka - Rock Is Sponge
    • [Area 05] Adam Freeland - Fear
    • Coldcut & Tim Bran - Boss Attacks
    • Ebz - Fg Gs
    • Octaeder - Oval
    • Creative State - Ken Ishii
    • P Project - Oval

Beyond Mode

Beyond mode is a set of additional challenges, bonus stages, and modes unlocked after getting 100% analysis in all five areas.

Direct Assault

Play all of the levels of Rez's normal play mode back to back. Every time you complete Direct Assault you unlock different color schemes for use in you next play through. Dying once will end the run and you will have to start from the beginning.

  • Normal
  • Ambient
  • Punk
  • Oldschool
  • Psychedelic
  • Trance

Lost Area

A mission in a long forgotten and unused section of the network; it is rather challenging compared to Rez's normal levels, and considered an ideal score attack level. The track is by Ebz..

Trance Mission

Visual and audio overload, the level never ends, and there is not danger to the player. It is a perpetual loop of atonal noise & ambience, and psychadelic visuals.

Boss Rush

You play all 5 bosses in order.

Beyond Options

  • Player Select
  • Beam Type
  • Camera View
  • Immortal
  • Overdrive Infinity

Rez HD

Rez HD is an enhanced port of Rez, released through Xbox Live Arcade on January 30th 2008. The game was first announced by Tetsuya Mizuguchi in September 2007, at the Tokyo Game Show in Japan. The port was handled by HexaDrive. Although fundamentally the same game there are a few differences between the Xbox 360 and Dreamcast version of Rez. The HD version includes all additional content added to the PS2 version, as well as supporting HD resolutions and a 16:9 mode. It also added standard Xbox Live features such as achievements and leaderboards. However, unlike the PS2 version the game does not support the Trance Vibrator USB device. Instead up to 4 controllers can be connected to the 360 at any one time, and their built in rumble used to pulsate to the beat of the music.

Spiritual Successor

Q Entertainment's Tetsuya Mizuguchi performed an on-stage, controller-free, demo of Child of Eden at Ubisoft's E3 2010 press briefing, using the new Microsoft Kinect accessory. In both visual style and choice of music they are very similar, a couple of major differences being the motion control scheme and the first person perspective.