Games built on a funny premise can be wildly hit or miss. Too often, it’s difficult to sustain a joke that has already reached its punchline in the trailer. This is not the case with REZ PLZ.
REZ PLZ is a co-op puzzle platformer centred around two wizard schoolboys named Arcan and Zeph. When demons overrun their magic school, it is up to them to find a way to safety and figure out how to free their classmates. Luckily, they know one spell: a resurrection spell.
The game is designed for co-op play, so you and a friend with each control either Arcan or Zeph. Both characters know all the same moves and spells, so it doesn’t matter which you play as. Together, you have to traverse platforms strewn with obstacles that often require one of you to die in order to cross. The puzzles are genuinely fun and challenging and take a lot of creative thought. Often, it will be impossible for both Arcan and Zeph to take the same route through a level, with the puzzles requiring an even balance of work between players in different places.
The risk of a game like REZ PLZ is that the novelty of having to sacrifice yourself or murder your brother would wear off before you get too far into it. But that doesn’t happen. You have to think of new and creative ways to kill yourself for each level. Sometimes it’s not easy, so there are points that get a bit frustrating. But that, in turn, becomes immensely satisfying when you figure out how to blow yourself in exactly the right way that a wall of acid will dissolve around you to clear a way for your brother.
The game is split into chapters, laid out as if in a spellbook, each of which contains a number of levels and a boss battle with a demon. At the start of each new chapter, your ghost teacher gives you a new spell to use in future levels and it’s up to you to figure out how it can combine with your other skills to move forward.
You can go back over the levels and try to beat your score. Your time is tracked, if you earned bonus points for finding hidden items, and how many times you died, whether for the purpose of a puzzle or just a mistimed jump. These additional features make REZ PLZ a decent enough game to play over again, even once you know the solutions to each puzzle.
The overall design of the game is great. The retro art style is lovely, but the animation is smooth. It’s complemented by an upbeat yet spooky soundtrack that really encapsulates the feeling of being young and on a dangerous quest. The sense of humour is as evident in the dialogue and brief cutscenes as it is in the premise, really making the most of the T rating.
At the moment, the game’s biggest drawback is that it’s a bit glitchy. But there is a patch on the way and, in the meantime, it’s a quick process to reboot the game and pick up where you left off. Outside of the mostly cosmetic bugs, though, REZ PLZ is built on a great foundation of smart puzzles, cute design and macabre comedy.