I’m not a defender of PlayStation VR or virtual reality in general just yet, but one of the main complaints I’ve been reading about the whole experience is that it doesn’t have a “killer app” yet. The general line of thinking is that VR has a line-up of small, silly games that are merely time-wasters at the moment, and PlayStation VR doesn’t have that one special game to push it over the edge to become something great.
And I’m scratching my head because, the last time I checked, the absolute perfect game for virtual reality is available as a launch title: the SEGA Dreamcast classic Rez.
I haven’t played Rez yet in virtual reality, so I can’t say this definitively. Our own Joey Davidson has, and he lavished it with praise.
Knowing the history of the game, the people behind it, and the general reactions to this latest port, it is currently the ideal virtual reality experience. The clunkiness of moving a character, the chore of rendering hand motion, the problems of creating a setting that your brain accepts, and the routine of forcing a first-person perspective: all of the problems of VR vanish with this mind-trip game. Well, except for the motion sickness. Maybe.
You don’t have to accept it as real because it’s not. You don’t have to move the character because it moves on its own. He has no hand motion for the PlayStation Move to muck up. Just rotate the camera, aim properly, and let the bullets and music fly. Rez comes to us from a console that thrived on recreating the simplicity of the arcade experience with a whole new generation of graphic abilities, and as one of the Dreamcast’s defining games, it proved to the world that games don’t always have to be unfathomably deep RPGs to be considered classics.
This simplicity carries well over into the early days of virtual reality. Complexity is going to prove to be a huge issue in the coming years, figuring out ways to make genuinely new games that can become the likes of Sword Art Online. However, in the meantime, virtual reality’s best bet is to retool simple classics, primarily rail shooters that don’t require much input from the players, for the best experiences.
And they couldn’t have found a better simplistic rail shooter than Rez. Can we think of any other rail shooters that might work here? The best bet would be calling up SEGA and getting them to retool the Xbox cult-hit Panzer Dragoon Orta. That’s a game which is not playable on modern consoles and could really benefit from both a modern remaster and a virtual reality overhaul.
I can dream, can’t I? In the meantime, should I ever get a PlayStation VR, Rez Infinite will be the first and maybe only game I pick up. Actually, I already have the game purchased, and playing it on a flat screen is just fine.