Mini Review: Rez Plz – Not Quite A Game To Die For
Searching for a dose of that old The Lost Vikings magic on your Nintendo Switch? We’d love to push Rez Plz forward as a blood-soaked candidate, but unfortunately there are just too many sore points for our liking.
In this co-op puzzle-platformer, you’ll find yourself guiding a pair of wizard twins through a SNES-era fantasy world. These aren’t your usual boy-wizards destined for greatness, mind, with their sole ability (at least initially) being to resurrect one another from the dead. The game gets a lot of mileage out of this ‘live, die, repeat’ system, as you sacrifice one brother to further the progress of the other.
Fans of dark and twisted humour will appreciate how you can deliberately slaughter one twin and use their lifeless body as a platform for navigating a pool of lava. You might impale one on a pillar of spikes and then wall-bounce off them with the other, or use one as a literal human torch. In the second world, you’ll even need to start thinking about dismembering your heroes to activate some of the hellish sacrifice-driven level equipment.
The most pleasing element of Rez Plz is the way that the twins have a real physical presence in this otherwise generic world. Even aside from the grisly stuff, they can hoist each other up to higher platforms and stand on one another’s shoulders. Enemies, too, can be slaughtered and their bodies utilised to hold down pressure-sensitive switches. Thankfully, all this morbid stuff is handled with a light touch, and everything’s rendered in a bouncy Saturday morning cartoon style.
The main issue with Rez Plz is that it lacks the polish and precision tuning that its mechanics demand. The frame rate is frequently horrendous – especially in the first world – which can directly impede your progress, as some of the jump sequences you’ll need to make are rather exacting. There are also numerous technical gremlins, from game crashes to situations where the camera doesn’t keep up with the action or switch focus to the correct twin.
This sense of frustration is exacerbated by overly twitchy platformer physics that fall just a little short of where they need to be, and a control system that never quite feels instinctual and second-nature in single player. It’s all too easy to lose track of which twin is the active one and which button you need to press, especially when the twins are close together, or when the puzzles start to place a time pressure on you, such as during ‘boss’ levels.
Somewhat ironically given the game’s central gimmick, it doesn’t handle death particularly well. When you run out of respawn crystals, a Spelunky-like ghost will start stalking your remaining twin. Which is fine when there’s another crystal within reach, but much of the time there won’t be. It just feels a little tacked on.
All in all, the fun and challenge that’s undoubtedly present in Rez Plz dies a death of a thousand irritating cuts. A resurrection isn’t entirely out of the question, but it’ll require a couple of hefty updates to jolt it into life.
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