A Child in Eden
Tetsuya Mizuguchi is a household name in the game industry; if you go back as far as 2001 you'll understand why. A quick TARDIS trip will confirm it, lacking one of those machines you can always get a PS2 or a Dreamcast and play the most amazing on-rails shooter experience that you could at the time. I'm talking about the game Rez. That was the bainchild of the aforementioned Tetsuya, and a crazy trippy beautiful game to boot.
Child of Eden has now arrived in 2011, developed by Q Entertainment and published by Ubisoft. Is it a game that will hold true to the Rez legacy or does it fall short of the previous title by a long shot?
Child of Eden tells the story of Lumi, she was once a girl who was born in space, out there in the Big Black and she longed to experience Earth. Lumi died though and many years later her memories, feelings and ID were programmed into Eden, the archive of all human life and history. Project Lumi is nearly complete when Eden is infected by viruses and the goal is simple: purify all of the Eden archives and save Project Lumi from destruction.
Child of Eden can be played with a regular controller and the controls are simple enough, it's when you get into the Kinect, waving your arms madly before the tv that you really see the game come into its own. It has superb motion tracking and the controls are basically based on your weapons. Since it's an on-rails shooter...you have the right hand that controls the lock-on laser, the left hand controls the rapid fire laser and both hands raised together triggers the smart-bomb nicknamed Euphoria.
You progress through Child of Eden's short campaign (4-5 hours of play) by tracking through the archives of human history and knowledge. They are named thusly: Matrix, Evolution, Beauty, Passion and finally Journey. The archives are themed differently and the viruses in each level take on different forms to match the theme of the environment. Once you manage to complete an archive you get a star rating, star ratings are used to unlock the other archives and so on. You also get a purified virus that floats around the main menu screen, these are trophies that you unlock as you complete the archives and so forth.
Even though the game is short, there's a lot of stuff here to unlock so there's a lot of replay value to Child of Eden as well as you can replay levels to get more unlocks and more trophies. Out of both control methods, we definitely prefer the Kinect style of play which offers an extra level of challenge as well as providing the most fun, as mentioned before, the motion tracking for the game is near-perfect and it suits the on-rails style of this fun and very quirky shooter.
The last level is a breeze compared to the previous levels, this takes away from the game's challenge somewhat and with the short but replayable archives, and it's still a bit of a letdown compared to the earlier stages. There are music videos, alternate gameplay settings and other things to unlock though...so even if it is short, there's a lot of content to pull you back into the experience, which of course changes every time since it's based on your player actions in terms of audio, which we'll cover later.
There's a level of euphoric sheer joy in playing Child of Eden, it brings back fond memories of Rez and the level of colourful detail in the environments, virus designs and aesthetics of the visuals are just something else. It's hard to describe in words what you see on the screen, but I would say that video game alumni Jeff Minter of Llamatron fame would utterly adore this.
The soundtrack and sound effects in general are actually produced through player interaction, just like Rez. This game literally evolves the visual and aural aesthetic based on player input. As the viruses become purified new sound effects are added to the mix, new soundtrack options become available and the game pulls this whole audio package together without skipping a beat, it's very slick.
It's specifically a single player affair.
A Child of Rez
When all is said and done, the game is a fitting successor to Rez and if you loved Rez then the chances are that you'll love Child of Eden too. It's an immersive game when you throw in the Kinect controls and even though you can use a regular controller; this is a game that's meant to be experienced with the Kinect. It may be a tad short, but it's replayable and the way the game evolves as you play it is a feast for the eyes and the mind.
I've never actually felt overly happy when playing a video game before, but Child of Eden brings out that childlike happiness that is sorely lacking in today's market.
Buy it and experience another gem from the mind behind Rez.