Much like the game that inspired it (Rez), Child of Eden is a game that defies definition. Is it a shooter or is it a screensaver? Is it a rhythm game or is it an on rails shooter? Regardless of how the game is defined, it easily has become one of, if not the reason to own a Kinect system in my opinion. Sure it lacks the child friendly and forgiving qualities of Kinectimils, and it’s not quite as generation linking as the upcoming Once Upon a Monster, but this is a game that can and should be used to show off what the Kinect is capable of. Mind you, Child of Eden can be played with a standard controller but the truest experience and joy comes from playing it with your hands moving around you in a fluid motion, conducting as much as playing the action that’s taking place on screen.
The things you’ve likely heard by now are true – the game does only feature 5 main levels, and yes each is quite short making the overall campaign just over an hour of play, and yeah – playing for that full hour in a single stretch can be exhausting. Don’t let these things sound like a negative however, as Child of Eden has been one my the most enjoyable gaming experiences I’ve had in a while. It was amazing to stand there in my living room, large TV on in front of me with nothing else in the way and play a game. There was no silly jumping from side to side, no spinning, no running in place it was a pure and simple gaming experience. One hand when raised controlled a purple reticule which was used to wipe out enemy fire, as well as purple tinged bad guys with each automatically firing shot sounding like a snare drum being tapped. When the enemies were hit, it was a sound that fit thematically with the level – be it watery plunks, or industrial bangs everything fit seamlessly. My other hand created a lock on up to eight enemies or targets within a level, and in order to fire all it took was a flick of your wrist or a push towards the television, and your projectiles fired and eliminated whatever it was you were aiming at, ranging from gears on a giant wall to a massive lotus petal again music was key to the experience and every play through became a unique sonic and kinetic experience.
Now I realize all of this sounds really melodramatic, but in all honesty I loved every second of playing this game. The visuals alone are a sight to behold; whether it be watching a ball of light morph into two humanoid forms, or the previously mentioned giant lotus flower blooming to reveal the face of Lumi, the human that you are saving in the new internet of the future. Weave the ever evolving visual landscape together with the previously mentioned audio and the title is something that isn’t only played, but it’s experienced; it’s felt.
It’s worth mentioning that even though the game can (and should) be played with Kinect the option is there to play this title with the standard controller. In this mode it definitely feels like a follow up to Rez. But quite honestly after putting down the joystick and playing, it was extremely tough to go back to the ‘old style’ of control. The cursor felt sluggish (which can be tweaked) and using the buttons just seemed so outdated that I never went back. However, if you stayed away from the Kinect setup and enjoy on rails shooters in this vein then by all means go check this title out – even it it means a quick rental, I’m confident that you’ll see the beauty in the game and want a copy all your own.
Platform reviewed: Xbox 360