Reviewing a game like Child of Eden is a difficult task. On one hand, it is easily one of the most unique and visually appealing games I have come across in some time. The onscreen action is enough to mesmerize you, and to be honest, I could only handle a couple of levels at a time simply because it really is entrancing to play through. On the other hand, it is simply an on-rails shooter that mixes in some beat timing with shots for a visual showcase. Fans of Mizuguchi are no doubt in music-shooter heaven with Child of Eden, but if you didn’t enjoy Rez or his other work, it is worth knowing what you are getting into.
If you can fathom it, the game has a story, and it may melt your brain more than the visuals do. It involves a girl named Lumi who was born in space and then resurrected in the future inside the Internet. Your goal is to purify said Internet and help bring Lumi back. Really, I tried to follow the story, but also felt like I should probably try out some mind-expanding substances before doing so. Still, it lays a nice background for those interested, and it definitely fits the outlandish style of the game.
As I mentioned, Child of Eden is an on-rails shooter accompanied by music. If you played Rez, you get the idea, but for those that didn’t let me break down the basics. You have three different attacks. One is a lock-on mechanic that you can hold down to select multiple enemies. You are rewarded if you release said attack in time with the beat of the music. You also have a standard shot, which is less effective and of course, the screen-clearing euphoria bomb. The standard shot attack may seem worthless but it is, in fact, the only way to shoot down projectiles. Each level takes you on a visual rollercoaster and sometimes it can be a bit overwhelming, but one thing is for sure, you have never seen anything like it before.
Since our time with the game was spent on Xbox 360, it is worth noting that Child of Eden was designed as one of the premiere titles for Kinect. In fact, there was some misconception among gamers that it was designed only for Kinect. That is not the case. You can play the game with a controller and, depending on your preference, you may opt to go that route even if you own Kinect. There is no doubt that core gamers have been skeptical of the motion control features of Microsoft’s hands-free device. Very few core games actually use it well and their functionality is almost always limited. Child of Eden breaks this mold to some extent, offering up a competent use of the device that actually plays to its strengths.
Using Kinect does take some getting used to mainly because of the lack of rumble. Timing your release with the beat of the song is imperative to earning Achievements and purifying each level. Kinect, of course, does not have rumble so you have to rely on your own rhythm. You can also navigate the screen much more quickly using the device. Flicking your wrist serves as the release button. While you may look completely ridiculous, it actually works pretty well. Personally, I found myself preferring the controller, but either device works sufficiently, making Child of Eden one of the first games to actually successfully use both control schemes.
The key to success in Eden is the multiplier. Stacking this up gains massive points and is really the long-term hook for the game. The actual single player experience clocks in at just a few hours, but going back to 100% purify each level is what will keep you coming back. There are also a host of fun little things to unlock, including an ending archive and items to scatter around the main menu. It is obvious that there is a lot of fan service for fans of Rez here. The game also has a setting for everyone including normal and easy mode (where you actually cannot die) as well as hard for purists. It is worth noting that easy mode only works on levels you already completed, so don’t expect to blast through, gaining Achievements without much effort. Getting 1000 points here is going to take some serious dedication and skill.
Visually, Child of Eden is a lot of things. Stunning, trippy and downright flashy come to mind when describing what projects on the screen. I literally could only handle two or three levels at a time because my brain felt like exploding into storms of confetti after a while. I loved it. There is so much going on that it can cause you to lose track of things, but the experience is so vivid you can’t help but become entranced in its glory. The music in the game is fantastic, even if you are not a stockholder in companies that make glow sticks. It fits the style and mood flawlessly, and matching up your attacks to the thumping beats only personifies its importance. Style is definitely something Child of Eden has in spades.
Child of Eden is definitely something of a unique beast. There are some that simply won’t get it, and that is fine, but for those that take to it, your experience will be unparalleled. The team at Q Entertainment knows what they do well, and Eden is it. If you loved Rez, you likely don’t need to read reviews, you already own this game, but if you have hesitated, you can rest assured there is no reason to. This is one game that caters to its fans without sacrificing what made it special in the first place.
Review copy provided by publisher.