Child of Eden Review
Game: Child of Eden
Developer: Q Entertainment
Available on: Xbox 360
Fans of Microsoft’s Xbox 360 Kinect add-on have been waiting quite patiently for a truly “hardcore” experience, and hopes are high that the successor to the marvelous Rez can fit the bill. Offering players the chance to play the title with either a pad or the Kinect sensor, nobody is shut out of the experience, and the pedigree of Q Entertainment only adds to the intrigue surrounding the title.
Ubisoft have been trying to tell everyone that Child of Eden is the Kinect title they have been waiting for, but are they right?
STORY: Although you’d think a title like Child of Eden has a story that is, frankly, incidental, you’d be wrong. That said, Child of Eden’s plot is undoubtedly simple: purify the world – save the girl. Project Lumi is the “girl” in question, who is being slowly corrupted by a virus. The game’s premise is that is that Project Lumi is the internet, and it is your job to purify everything, which will save Lumi.
Despite the total lack of traditional narration, you’ll definitely want to save Lumi, and will become invested in doing so, just as you would in any of the titles better known for story. Whilst you won’t experience Heavy Rain levels of attachment to the character of Lumi, you’ll be surprised just how much you actually care about the environment, and you’ll question the morality of attacking the beautiful creatures that populate the environments.
GRAPHICS: Everything you see in Child of Eden has been designed to make the experience as immersive as possible, to allow you to lose yourself in the majesty of the environments and visuals that the game creates. Be it the opening tutorial level (which pays homage to the end areas of Rez) or the magnificently rendered creatures you are forced to battle, everything looks simply stunning, mesmeric in its splendor.
It’s truly hard to find fault with the visuals in Child of Eden, and the only real issue arises from the camera, which can be slightly twitchy when switching from one hand to another when using Kinect. With a pad though, you are truly experiencing what is best described as “Rez 2”, only with better visuals.
SOUND: Whilst the accompanying music, in time, may not hold up against predecessor Rez, the compositions are still exquisite, matching both mood and visuals perfectly. As you move your hand around the screen, locking on to targets, Child of Eden responds elegantly with luscious tones that signify that you have done it correctly. Then whoosh, you unleash the attack that purifies the enemies.
The combination of soundtrack and visuals is astonishing, and something that is best experienced with a surround sound set up, or at least some high quality headphones. Evocative of the best moments of bliss, maybe even giving you a tripped-out feeling, great care and attention to detail is on show in the game’s audio, as you would hope and expect. Just like the visuals, the design is meticulous, and worth applauding.
GAMEPLAY: Child of Eden is marketed as two unique experiences, and for once, the marketing is true. Playing with the controller, you will feel as though you are truly playing a sequel to Rez. The analogue sticks control the reticule, whilst the face buttons control the attacks: holding locks on to enemies and releasing attacks them. The euphoria (think smart bomb) attack is utilised via the trigger buttons, and the alternate fire is located on yet another button. Whilst it would be hugely unfair to write off playing Child of Eden with a controller, the title is vastly improved when played with Kinect. For once, the marketing epithet “better with Kinect” is absolutely true, which will be welcome news for Kinect fans, because it’s about damn time!
Standing in front of Child of Eden and directing the reticule with your right hand is absolutely incredible. Few have doubted the tech behind Kinect, but just as few have actually developed a Kinect title that has such incredible response mapped out on the screen in front of you. The idea is simple, you move your right hand to lock onto targets, then flick your wrist to unleash the attacks, and it works flawlessly.
Certain enemies will require alternative techniques however. If a purple enemy appears or shoots at you, switching to your left hand is required, as only that alternate automatic fire will stop them. Once again, Kinect picks up on the nuances of a hand switch without error, though a small complaint arises here, in that dropping your right hand and switching to the left causes the camera to move suddenly. Due to the way Kinect works, this is an inherent problem and not a software one. To activate euphoria, you just put both your hands over your head, which is intuitive and feels great. The same camera problem arises when doing this though, and flinging both hands above your head causes the camera to twitch quite noticeably. This means that if you are serious about score attacking, then you may end up having to use a pad.
Progressing though the campaign is simple enough. You have to obtain a required number of stars to open the next path (level), which you gain by successfully completing previous levels. The better you perform, the more stars you gain. In practice, you may find you need to replay levels to progress further, but the simplest way to do this is to play a level with Kinect, then replay it with the pad. This might seem like a cop-out, but the experiences really are very different, and the levels so wonderful to play through, that you’ll enjoy both methods greatly.
LONGEVITY: As a straight forward experience, to most, Child of Eden could be considered quite short. There are unlockables in the form of videos (Genki Rockets music videos), artwork, and even alternative modes, but the cold hard truth of the matter is that Child of Eden may not present the best value for money in the world. If you have no Kinect sensor, then you are even further limited, and are missing out on the best way to play the game.
There aren’t many levels, and each one will take roughly 10-15 minutes to play through, but as you’d expect, there are online leaderboards which allow you to compare your scores with online friends. In truth, Child of Eden is a mood game and as such, is something you’ll pick up and play, as and when you fancy a quick game.
VERDICT: Child of Eden is a defining moment in the Kinect library and almost justifies the device all by itself; it is a game that plays so well with the device and is genuinely “better with Kinect”. This is the Kinect game we’ve all been waiting for.
Offering an experience that is truly unique, engaging and spectacular, visually stimulating and sonically fantastic, if you own an Xbox 360 Kinect device, you’d have to be mad to skip this title. Despite being a little light on content, games like Child of Eden are few and far between, so please show support with your wallet, before this kind of majesty stops being produced once and for all. Child of Eden is a slice of entertainment that reminds you why you love gaming and an utterly essential purchase for Xbox 360 Kinect owners.