Child of Eden – A literal hands-on
I have chosen not to produce a full review for Child of Eden as I do not own the Kinect peripheral. This blog is based on my experiences playing the game with the standard Xbox 360 controller, which the game also supports.
One of the games most commonly talked about in the fashionable “games as art” debate is Rez. Sega’s Dreamcast classic reinvented the rail-shooter formula with eye-catching cyberspace visuals and one of the best game soundtracks of all time. The creator of Rez, Tetsuya Mizuguchi, now brings us Child of Eden, a prequel which features the familiar mechanics alongside beautiful HD graphics and another pulsing techno soundtrack.
Child of Eden takes gamers back to a virtual world contained within an evolved version of the Internet, the K-Project. Your goal is to save Project Lumi, an experiment designed to place an AI into the K-Project. The system is rejecting the AI and you must purify viruses in order to save it. The story isn’t as essential to the experience as the visuals and audio, but it does tie nicely back into Rez. The Project Lumi AI eventually becomes known as Eden, the system which you have to stop from shutting down in Rez.
The gameplay will be instantly familiar to anyone who played that game. You control a reticule on the screen, hold the A button as you highlight targets and release the button to shoot them all down. Extra points are awarded for releasing your shots in time with the music. There is also a new mechanic, allowing you to shoot a steady stream of bullets using the Right Trigger. They are much weaker that your normal shots, but are the only way to shoot down incoming projectiles and purple coloured enemies. This adds a layer of depth and concentration which was seldom required in Rez and makes for more complex boss battles. It’s a cool addition, though not one which is always welcome, as you’ll sometimes wish that sequences were a little more simple, allowing you to focus more on the audiovisual experience, rather than the shooting.
Child of Eden creates an incredible connection between the visuals, the music and the player and the feeling you get from playing the game is unlike anything which you will find anywhere else. Although I have not played the game using the Kinect camera, the Xbox 360 controller still provided a fantastic connection with the action. The biggest advantage that the normal controller has is that the vibration motors pulse in time with the music. This immerses you deeply into the audio and allows you to fire your shots in time with the music, almost without you realising that you’re doing it.
The game’s graphics are easily some of the most astounding on the current consoles. The densely layered visuals create a beautiful world for you to interact with and the use of colour is unlike the vast majority of games which we see today. Environments and enemies pulse to the soundtrack and each level has a distinct theme, from nature to mechanics, which means everyone who plays will have their own favourite. The music, which comes from Genki Rockets, maybe isn’t quite as memorable as that which featured in Rez, but still complements the setting and gameplay almost perfectly.
I would recommend Child of Eden to anybody. The simple gameplay is well suited to a variety of abilities and everyone can enjoy the fantastic graphics and music. Rez fans in particular will absolutely love this game. Eden’s only major issue is its length. The game can be completed easily in less than two hours and is being sold at full retail price in the UK. Many will find it difficult to justify the purchase at that price, but it is definitely a game which you will keep coming back to for many years. If you don’t buy it right away, then at least consider it once the price drops a little. Child of Eden is a unique and beautiful game which shows how simple mechanics can still capture the imagination and immerse players in ways which the most complex games often fail to achieve.