Dull, drab, mundane: three words that don’t describe Child of Eden in the slightest. On the contrary, Tetsuya Mizuguchi and the rest at Q Entertainment deliver a stunning audiovisual experience with a wide spectrum of colors that would make any rainbow jealous, and music that is so heart-pumping that a raver would feel at home.
Child of Eden is definitely not for the faint of heart as it gives a gamer a feeling of sensory overload. Rather than shying away from it, though, players should embrace it for the triumph that it is. Mizuguchi, who as the brain behind Rez and Lumines is no stranger to innovation, really gives it his all this time around and I was amazed at how stunning and intuitive CoE was.
The story, such as it is, focuses on a young girl named Lumi whose essence has basically been put into digital form and turned into the Internet. This form of Internet, called Project Eden, is under attack, and you’re tasked with purifying each archive to save Project Eden and Lumi. While the plot might come off as serious based on the description I just gave, it is really just something to set up the game so you know why you’re wanting to zap what flies before you on the screen.
What’s so beautiful about Child of Eden is that it allows you to use either the 360 controller or your Kinect. Obviously everybody is going to have their preference; my husband and I found that we were more precise when using the controller, but the Kinect implementation is the best we’ve seen yet. All it takes is a quick press on the back button found on the 360 controller to switch between the two play types when you’re about to start and you’re good to go.
In addition to choosing between how you want to play the game, there are two game modes you can select from. There is the normal mode where you play and advance through the game, taking damage, and having the ability to “die,” and there is Feel Eden. In Feel Eden you can go through the level without worrying about damage, and just experience the game in all its glory without having to really put too much thought or strategy into it. I enjoyed Feel Eden since it allowed me to really soak it all in. Unfortunately, progressing to the next archive requires successfully completing each archive in Normal mode, as Feel Eden does not provide level progression.
Like I previously said, CoE is pure eye candy. It really is stunning and if the goal of the dev team was to make one of the most beautiful games for this generation of consoles, they succeeded ten-fold. It is difficult to describe what went through my mind as I played the game, since I think it is something that has to be seen first-hand, but it was very overwhelming. Watching the walls pulse to the music, the subtle changes in hue, the electric neon that subtly flashes, and the unique character design really a sight to behold. If one game could define Mizuguchi’s career, Child of Eden is it. That’s not to say that it’s all downhill from here from him, but merely how CoE is a prime example of his genius that we’ve only seen glimpses of over the years.
The sound is really where the game shines, as if it was even remotely possible to out-do the visual but Q Entertainment pulled it off in spades. The artful blend of techno, trance, and space sound effects really help encapsulate the gamer in a sphere of aural pleasure. Because of how well done the audio is, it is easy to fully immerse yourself into Child of Eden without a second of hesitation. I really felt that the pattern of beats helped lend a feeling of progression as you floated through the level, since there is no map or any other indication as to how long each section will be.
As I said earlier, Child of Eden features the best Kinect implementation of any game currently available for Xbox 360. It is intuitive, precise, and very easy to control. I will admit that, at first, I had no idea what I was doing. That was solely my fault for not taking the time to read the handy manual, or even loading up the tutorial portion inside the game. I was too eager to start enjoying the game. Players use their right hands to move around the reticle, selecting which objects to target, and then a flick of the wrist towards the Kinect will send off a barrage of lasers. To use the tracer, that is controlled by the left hand and all that requires is targeting since it auto-fires. I was concerned on how I was to pause the game, but thankfully the first level goes over how to perform all necessary moves, but by simply putting both hands down in front of you the game will automatically pause.
There is a neat feature in the game called Euphoria, and what that does is release a ton of laser beams towards the enemy, regardless if you have them targeted or not. Since it’s a special attack, it is one that will prompt when ready to be used and is activated when one lifts both hands in the air.
When using a controller things are a bit different, obviously, but just as easy to grasp. The left thumbstick will control the same way your right hand did in Kinect mode. To target you will hold the A button and then release when you want to fire and purify. When wanting to do the tracer attack, since some enemies can only be damaged with it, you can either use the right trigger or the X button. Activating Euphoria is with the B button, and pausing the game is just like any other 360 title. Like previously stated, there is a sense of increased control and precision, especially in regards to the reticle, when using a controller however you do move slower than in Kinect and I’m sure that has to do with the simple fact that the game can register your hand movements faster than the commands you enter via the controller.
Since you are able to take damange when playing through the game normally one will want to keep their eye out for blue orbs and will want to shoot them to recover life, and you can boost your Euphoria level by shooting the pink orbs. Aside from that there aren’t other objects floating around in Child of Eden that you’ll need to keep an eye out for, with the exception of objects that can block your path like in the first level. There are walls that are a bit difficult to break through, regardless if you’re using Kinect or a controller.
Now, despite how in love I am with this game, there are some drawbacks. A major one for me is that there is no checkpoint system. Once you start a level you have to keep playing it until the very end, and if you die you have to restart the entire thing. Depending on the way that you play, each level can last anywhere between 12-20 minutes, but I know there are some people out there, like myself, who want the option to stop and pick up where the game was saved at.
Also, because of how tunneled the game is, if a person is sensitive to motion or is susceptible to Simulator Syndrome, you might want to rent Child of Eden before purchasing. Prior to playing CoE, only two other games have ever made me nauseated: the first Red Faction and one level in Vanquish. I was unaware that CoE would have the same side-effect and out of nowhere it hit me and I had to stop playing. Because of this, I have had to do the game in slow doses, and for other gamers who are like me, this is another example of how a checkpoint system would be an incredible asset.
With 49 achievements in the game, 5 archives to play through, and an option to customize Lumi’s Garden after each archive you complete, Child of Eden really is an absolute gem despite the negatives I listed above. Regardless if one has a Kinect, or even plans on purchasing that peripheral, if you are a fan of innovation, creativity, and love experiencing things that take gaming to a whole new level, then Child of Eden is the game for you. It is one that’s a must-have on any shelf.
Soundtrack is aurally brilliant Best Kinect implementation to date
|Only 5 archives|
No checkpoint system
Tunneling can potentially cause nausea/Simulator Syndrome