If there’s one thing that a lifetime of watching films has taught me, it’s that being immortal sucks. Sure, you get to live forever, but you can never have love, or if you do, you have to watch that love wither and die a little bit more with every day that passes. Or you end up with a dodgy French-Scottish accent that can’t quite decide where it belongs. However, Long Neck Games have now decided to have a crack at this whole immortality thing, and the result is their new game, REZ PLZ. So, let’s dive into a world of messy deaths and resurrections, shall we?
The story of REZ PLZ is pretty simple – we control two apprentice wizards, Arcan and Zeph, brothers who are absolutely awful at magic. Seriously, whatever league table Harry Potter is at the top of, these jokers are at the other end. One day, the forces of the Dark Arcanum attack their wizard school, and the only wizards to survive are, you’ve guessed it, our heroes. They are thrown down a massive hole in the ground by a giant demon-type thing, and as such they are assumed to be dead and no more a problem. However, the brothers have a secret weapon up their sleeves: the Resurrection Scroll!
Now, as you’d probably have guessed from the name, said scroll can bring the brothers back to life when they die, with the caveat that they have a stock of resurrection stones. Each brother starts with three of these stones, and each time a resurrection happens, they lose one of their stock. Luckily, these stones are dotted about the various levels so running out is fairly tricky. It can be done, however, and if there is only one brother left with no stones, for some reason Death seems to appear and chase down the survivor, so don’t leave your brother dead for too long.
Now, with the power to seemingly cheat death, you’d expect these characters to be able to use their abilities in all kind of amusing ways, and luckily you’re right. The game plays out as a series of rooms, with various obstacles placed in the brothers’ way. These range from easy ones, where one brother is required to give another a leg up to reach a high platform, through to traps that will require one brother to sacrifice themselves in order for the other to progress. Giant pit of spikes or lava? Jump one brother as far as possible into the hazard, then allow the other to use his limp corpse as a platform, allowing the team to clear the obstacle. On the other side, rez your brother, and carry on. These deaths get more convoluted as you go on, and soon you’ll be jumping one guy into fire, so his flaming body falls onto a torch, lighting it and opening the way for the other wizard to make a run for it. Sacrificing yourself for your brother has never been funnier, and yet at the same time more disturbing…
As the brothers journey on, as you’d expect they unlock more magical powers, such as fireballs and telekinesis. However, as previously mentioned, these two are to magic control what I am to ballet dancing, so the spells are very tricky to use correctly. Trying to use a telekinesis blast and catapulting your friend into lava is quite funny though, but while it’s amusing enough in single player, when playing with a friend it’s even funnier. Trying to apologise while laughing hysterically doesn’t usually go down too well. Yes, as you’ll have gathered from the previous sentence, couch co-op is included in REZ PLZ, and is by far the best way to play it. Having a real life friend (or child, in my case) sat next to you and asking them to kill themselves so you can carry on never gets old. The single player is perfectly playable as well, as you can control each of the brothers in turn to achieve your goals, but it is in co-op where this game really shines. So grab a mate if you’re going to play.
Graphically, and it comes with a pleasing pixel art look, and the animation of the brothers in particular is spot on. Seeing their little arms flailing as they are set on fire, or seeing them get chopped in two, sinking to their death in lava, or dying by being impaled horribly on spikes is all depicted in gruesome detail. The monsters that the brothers have to fight are likewise cute and gruesome, seemingly at the same time. Killing a bad guy, picking up their corpse and using it as a platform has a pleasing feel to it, but killing your brother in order to use his skull, the only bit left behind, to prop a switch in the on position is so wrong it just has to be right.
In addition to the story mode, there is also Gauntlet Mode, which adds another level of challenge to the gameplay. With a plethora of secrets to find and a difficult looking achievement list to complete, this adds greatly to the replay value, as scoring “S” rank on all levels will take some serious practice. As the rank that you ultimately score on each level is partly based on the time you took, it may be best to try this in co-op mode, the reason being that changing characters does seem to add to the time a lot, especially if you leave one wizard far behind and have to bring them to catch up.
All in all and REZ PLZ on Xbox One is one of those games that comes alive with a friend. It’s good as a single player game, but multiplayer just lifts it to another level. If you have a spare friend lying about the place, I can heartily recommend this game to anyone. It’s tougher solo, there’s no doubt, but it’s a good challenge, and if you like inventive ways to kill cute characters then look no further.