by Justin Snyder, reviewed on
Shoot ‘em up
I’m just going to get this out of the way here: Child of Eden is a great game. If you own a Kinect sensor for your Xbox 360, go pick up this game ASAP. It is still worth playing without one, but a large part of what makes the game so great is lacking. PS3 owners will have to wait until September to give it a try with the expected PS Move implementation. While it is high praise indeed to call the game a must-own, that doesn’t mean it is without its shortcomings.
If you want an idea of what Child of Eden is, and you have never seen or heard of Rez, think first-person shoot ‘em up. It is the easiest way to describe it, although the number of enemies on-screen is generally less overwhelming than your typical shmup. You take on the role of a champion of the far-future internet. The first human born in space, Lumi, has had her personality artificially recreated and stored within a set of archives in the internet (now known as Eden). However, this personality construct is under attack and it is your job to travel through the five archives of her personality and purify the viruses that are trying to destroy her.
The story is a bit silly, but it is hardly important to enjoying the game. Child of Eden is the kind of game that you can really lose yourself in. Playing with Kinect and sweeping your hands back and forth is an amazing experience. A controller is still fun, but loses the same kind of novelty and profundity that is had with Kinect.
Weapons and replay
In any given level, you are given two main weapons and one special one. There is the Octo-Lock laser, which allows you to lock on to up to eight separate targets before firing a charged shot at each. The other is the Tracer beam, which is essentially a less powerful, rapid-fire laser. It is weaker against normal enemies and nets less points than the Octo-Lock, but is necessary for taking on certain enemies and for clearing away incoming projectiles. In the default control scheme, the Octo-Lock is controlled with your right hand, and the Tracer with your left. The alternate controls allow you to switch weapons by clapping your hands, and use either hand to wield them. The final weapon is Euphoria. Throwing both hands up in the air activates this weapon and takes out all enemies on-screen. Controlling the reticle was a little choppy, but it was easy enough to find reticle smoothing in the options, and turning that on cleared up that problem.
Each of the five levels will take somewhere between 10 and 25 minutes to complete, which means the game is incredibly short. I was able to finish the game on normal difficulty in about two and a half hours, and it only lasted that long because I failed the third archive an embarrassingly high number of times. You will fight through wave after wave of enemies in a few different areas before coming up against a boss to finish up the level. Whenever you lose a level, you are kicked back out to the main menu and have to start at the beginning. If I didn’t know any better, I would say it was a way that Q Entertainment came up with to force the game to be a little longer. There are some other things that improve replay value, but this isn’t the kind of game I see myself replaying on higher difficulties or to unlock reward items. I will return to it now and again, but in order to return to the experience itself, rather than collectibles.
Music and sound mix
The music plays a large part of the experience. Each hit with the Tracer or the Octo-Lock elicits a different tone based on the level and the enemy type being hit. It complements the background music perfectly. The fourth archive, Passion, had my favorite music and sound effect mix with a really techno-sounding beat that made sense with the mechanical look and feel of the level.
Finishing the final archive, which is really an amalgamation of the previous four archives, unlocks the hard difficulty mentioned above, as well as a secret sixth archive. This archive, dubbed “Hope,” serves as a challenge mode. The whole level lasts about 30 minutes, and the only objective is to get through with the highest score possible. The fact that this game has scores and leaderboards for every level is something I basically ignored. Naturally competitive gamers will enjoy it, but it’s just another thing that felt outside the experience of the game.
Negatives aside, this game has some of the best implementation of Kinect I have ever had my hands on. Dance Central is fun, fitness games serve their purpose, and Kinect Sports and Kinect Adventures play as predicted, but it really feels like this game does Kinect the way it is supposed to be done. Microsoft played up Kinect’s ability to create a new level of immersion in games, but Child of Eden is the first game where this has really felt true.
Short but worth it
It is painfully short, but that is a mostly forgivable offense in this case. Many gamers will be hesitant to pay $50 for this game, but I am more than happy to have spent that much for what I got. Even if you decide to hold off, this is a game that every Kinect owner should add to their library at one point or another.
Best Kinect implementation yet, simple fun.
Terribly short, little replay value.