Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Child of Eden Review

Child of Eden is the spiritual successor to Rez, a rhythm on-rails shooter from the mind of Designer Tetsuya Mizuguchi. Set in the future. A woman named Lumi gained vast amounts of knowledge throughout the galaxy. Upon her passing her persona and memories were stored in a super computer known as Eden. A mysterious virus that aims to destroy Lumi strikes Eden.

Like it’s predecessor Rez, Child of Eden is all about visual representations of music. Controlling only a reticule you’ve got to blast various highlighted objects in order to progress. Clearing Eden of infections purifies each area, then you can move on. All illuminated enemies – anything ranging from animals to mechanics – that are destroyed enhances the audio; transitioning from Pop, Trance, House, and Electronic music all within the same level.

It’s a very relaxing game, when sitting on the couch and playing. The Kinect can be used instead of a controller. Using only your hands to highlight and shoot enemies is a surreal experience; it really feels like you’re a conductor leading the music on. 

Most areas end with a boss fight that can be quite difficult, especially with the Kinect.

Is Child of Eden a reason to own a Kincet? Simply put, no. It’s a very short game. Shorter than Rez, which is surprising – both of which can be beaten in one sitting, but Rez’s levels stretch into the 20 minute range, Child of Eden’s are only around 10 minutes. It wouldn’t be an issue if Child of Eden were twenty bucks, maybe thirty. At almost full retail price, it’s tough to recommend Child of Eden over Rez, which is only ten dollars on Xbox Live, and is a superior game.

Child of Eden is beautiful. A vibrant color scheme is complimented by fantastic vision. You’ll soar through stars – everything having a transparent “glow”, or a wireframe outline, with a flood of particle effects littering the screen. It feels like you’re playing the best screen-saver ever, really!

Your taste in music plays the biggest role in whether or not you’ll like Child of Eden. Child of Eden is very Japanese Pop music at times, it does dabble in some other forms but it doesn’t stray too far. Because I’m not much of a fan of this type of music – Rez had more deep bass tones more akin to Electronica -- most songs / levels were indistinguishable from one another. The first 3 stages really blend together, it doesn’t help that you hear “Fly away” repeatedly throughout some songs, really making them tonally similar.

Your preference on a controller or Kinect does factor into difficulty. I found playing with the Kinect not ideal; it’s a fun experience. I prefer sitting down with a controller in my hands. Some of the latter stages really demand the precise input of a controller, something you just can’t accomplish by waving your arms around.

If you already have a Kinect, then Child of Eden is a must buy. Using the Kinect to basically paint music is a wonderful time. While not necessary, a controller can be used for some of the more “twitch” based moments. 

Even the Main Menu has captivating visuals and sound.

It’s short. which is unfortunate. Replay value is high, but the unlocks are minimal. There are a few trippy visual filters, a sound mixer, and a nice survival mode (which may have the best combination of visuals and audio). A Kinect enabled version of Rez unlocked upon completion of Child of Eden would have been a nice treat. And I wonder why that wasn’t an obvious inclusion?

Child of Eden is fun, for a short time. And if you can get passed its literal shortcomings then there’s a lot to like. If you’re a big fan of J-Pop, more so than the Electronic mix that Rez showcased, then you may like it even more. I’ d recommend Rez first. It’s a longer game and I feel the music has a broader appeal. Still, if you have a Kinect Child of Eden is unique and great fun. For those expecting a drastic step above Rez, temper your enthusiasm. It’s still good, just not great.  

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