If video games were drugs - a line that the Daily Mail wants you to believe already - then it’s safe to say that Child of Eden would be acid. A game that relies on its hypnotic imagery and symbiotic relationship between sounds and music, Child of Eden could have only come from one mind and one mind alone: Rez creator, Tetsuya Mizuguchi. In what is essentially the spiritual successor to the 2001 title, which is Kinect compatible, Mizuguchi’s latest title not only wows you with its surreal dreamscape visuals, but it also transports you into a futuristic wizard as you set off on a journey to open one’s mind. Shazzam!
Child of Eden’s premise is almost as bizarre as its gameplay, and it tasks you with the assignment of deleting a virus from a memory bank of a character called Lumi, who was the first human born among the stars in a space station, but died before she could set foot on Earth. 200 years after Lumi’s death and after her memories had been stored, in trying to recreate it to produce the first child of Eden, a virus had been unleashed on the archives and that’s where you come in. So your job is to enter the 5 archives – Beauty, Evolution, Matrix, Journey and one more – and to take on the viruses and remove them from Lumi’s memories. We shall however concentrate on Beauty.
Throughout your time with Child of Eden you will essentially have three weapons::numero uno, the ‘tracer,’ which for the most part will be needed to shoot down enemy projectiles – AKA the “purple things” and acts a little like sub-machinegun fire; numero dos, the ‘lock-on,’ where you lock on up to 8 targets and then fire a blow killing them all; and finally, ‘Euphoria,’ which is essentially a nuke, killing everything on-screen. The Euphoria however, comes very infrequently, so the tracer and the lock-on will be your tools for the most part.
So how do you shoot? Simple. The tracer constantly fires a stream of bullets which you control with your right hand; while to lock-on, you hover over your target with the right hand and then flicking with it when you want to fire – heck, you can even throw a kick depending on how energetic you feel. Euphoria on the other hand is triggered by throwing your hands up in the air; and to switch between the lock-on and the tracer, you clap. And that’s pretty much it, as far as controls go. Even your nan could play this one.
The ultimate aim of the game is essentially to nuke anything that moves, earning points along the way and working your way through to the boss of each archive. If you manage to lock onto 8 targets at once with the lock-on and then take them down, you get a score multiplier. If you do that a few times in a row, your multiplier will rise, and that my friends is the key to high-scores. You do have to avoid being hit though, as the game does have a health system, so using the tracer to shoot down projectiles and taking down the transitions gates before you pass through them is key, otherwise you’ll take damage – a transition gate is similar to the gates in Rez.
The archive we went hands-on with, ‘Beauty,’ is a stage themed on the subject matter of the name itself. Kicking things off in a wonderfully creative blue-skied dreamscape, you’ll spend the first moments of the archive picking off butterflies and what not as you look to eradicate all strains of the virus. Throughout our 10-15 minute hands-on, we ducked from the blue-skies of above the surface, before darting underground and navigating roots and dodging a whole range of hugely creative beasties that range from large dragon shaped creatures with a tail and body made up of glowing spheres; to spinning, almost electrically charged, snowflakes. Not only is the world a true piece of art, but the symbiotic nature of the combat that ties in with the already alluring background music, creates one of the most unique and thus, hugely engaging, experiences on consoles. Especially when you take into account that each deleted virus – AKA killed enemy – creates a different sound depending on what weapon you use and when you hit it, meaning that you’re essentially making your own tailored music in some respects.
Despite Child of Eden being Kinect’s first true hardcore title, the mechanics are so simple and straightforward that almost anyone could revel in its delights. Sure, those that grasp the concept quicker and have the necessary skills to perform combos and such will benefit with a higher score, and thus, higher leaderboard positions, but the beauty of Child of Eden is that anyone can enjoys its mesmerising and tantalising gameplay.
Although Child of Eden can be played with a controller, using Kinect feels unbelievably natural – more so than actually using a controller, I imagine. That’s mostly down to how responsive the gameplay is and the ease of the controls. Like most hardcore games though, there is an art to playing it and getting the best scores out of it, and that will take tons of practice and dedication. If Kinect still doesn’t float your boat though, then the fact that there will be separate Kinect and controller leaderboards should at least please you.
In an industry driven by realistic and high-end visuals, it’s actually refreshing to see someone think outside the box somewhat, and the fact that Child of Eden uses Kinect to the best of its abilities is an added bonus. Granted, Child of Eden isn’t going to be for everyone, but for people who have a fascination with music, who also truly want to believe that games are an art form and are seeking something uniquely original and creative, then you should look no further. It’s hypnotic, addictive and damn beautiful, what else could you ask for?
Let’s just hope there’s enough to keep us addicted when Child of Eden ships this summer…