Child of Eden is the latest creation by legendary game creator Tetsuya Mizuguchi, who is best known for the musical shooter Rez. Child of Eden is actually a spiritual 'prequel' to Rez and features the same great sort of gameplay that had thousands of gamers addicted 10 years ago. This title had a surprisingly large amount of hype surrounding it and had been touted as the best Kinect game to be developed before we had seen any official gameplay. Child of Eden was meant to save the device from the onslaught of casual titles brought to the device by Microsoft at launch. A new era of more hardcore titles were hoped to be inspired by this on rails shooter and E3 2011 showed exactly that. Hype surrounding this game meant I opened Child of Eden with high expectations, thankfully most of the fame was warranted as this is a superb Kinect title for most aspects of the game.
This isn't your ordinary on-rails shooter where bad guys pop out and you must kill them. Child of Eden is a psychadelic shooter based on bright colourful objects and a spectacular light show. Mizuguchi has created Child of Eden with the aim of taking his product into the future and away of the stock standard human warfare. You are shooting at shapes and creations that explode and shatter creating the sensation I imagine you would receive from psychadelic drugs. The mystical nature surrounding Child of Eden drags you into the mystique of the game and focuses on a fun experience rather than a gripping storyline. The developers obviously haven't been scared to go against the popular gaming model of today and have created a title that builds on the popular formula of Rez.
If you want to look at a game proving that realistic graphics are not needed to make a great game, look no further than Child of Eden. Set hundreds of years into the future, the internet is basically a virtual reality that is made up of a whole array of bright objects. The constant movement through five distinctly unique areas is simply beautiful and the explosion of colour on the TV screen will you have admiring the scenery rather than focusing on the task at hand. The euphoria Mizuguchi has managed to convey from this visual spectacule to the player is a solid effort and just proves how he is one of the greats in the video game business. Child of Eden is something that simply has to be seen to be believed. The end of level boss battles are the most unique, spine tingling moments I have had to date in gaming. Emotion is quite hard to get out of a gamer in this day and age of mind-numbing tactics by developers but Child of Eden exceeds with flying colours.
There is no such thing as a solid musical shooter without a flawless soundtrack to accompany the tone you are going for. The music in Child of Eden brilliantly supports the graphics and adds to the overall atmosphere of the game. The pacing of the music feeds off your performance and gives the sensation that you are in fact the creator of the music. The music changes from a relaxed pace to an intensive beat in an instant, automatically setting the scene for the intensity of the next area. The intertwining music and graphics are a perfect mix of design and relaxation that creates an ecstatic atmosphere that doesn't let you go until the credits begin to roll.
One feature coming to all future first party titles is Kinect compatibility as an optional extra. Child of Eden takes that optional compatibility to another level with the exact same game available for either the Kinect or a standard controller. The standard controller option feels like it was thrown on just to get a few extra sales by people who don't have a Kinect. While it is still fun, you just don't get the same experience as you do from using motion controls. Using the Kinect utilises your hands perfectly. Movements you make are almost automatic and there is no visible lag from the Kinect processing the movements like some other games. Just starting the game for the first time and getting through the menus you can tell how responsive the controls are. During the game changing from your left hand (automatic firing) and your right hand (lock on targetting) is seamless and smooth. When the game gets tough and quick reflexes are needed you can perform movements with ease just like you had the precision of dual sticks on a controller. After playing Child of Eden it has automatically raised my expectation of Kinect games going forward.
One of the biggest gripes I have with a game that looks so good is the length of it. There are only five different levels in Child of Eden and if you are able to beat each level on the first go you can technically reach the credits in just under a hour. There are no other modes, no online and only added unlockables to keep you coming back. In an era where consumers expect more and more bang for their buck this is a dangerous situation to leave us in. Child of Eden is a fun, exhilarating game and each level will require multiple playthroughs to finish. Then after that you have the aim of unlocking concept art and going for achievements before finally ramping up the difficulty and going for a perfect score. Child of Eden is challenging and I found myself losing all my lives and doing multiple attempts at passing the level from the very start. The replay factor of this game extends Child of Eden into the 6-8 hour bracket but players who don't enjoy replaying the same areas constantly will find this title dry on content.
Despite the short game, Child of Eden is alot of fun in the action packed hour of content. With a constantly changing scenery and some absolutely massive boss battles, Child of Eden never stops delivering with entertainment. The game style perfectly couples the euphoric style of the music and graphics as you are set out to destroy the evil, darker areas of Eden. The reasoning for this is quite bland and an opening cutscene that tries to tell the story of Eden. I found it confusing and almost meaningless to the entire game and to me seemed like one of the bizarre storylines that generally comes out of Japan. Some people may enjoy the story, but it did absolutely nothing for me instead of causing unnecessary confusion. I would have preferred the time spent making that invested in perhaps an arcade mode for Child of Eden.
Child of Eden is by far the best Kinect game to date, showing that motion controls can be used for good in the future and not just children who enjoy to throw a javelin or dance to Lady Gaga. Every now and then a game comes out that brings something magical to television screens around the world and the musical euphoria surrounding Child of Eden is one of those special games. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Child of Eden, what has ultimately let it down though is the lack of time you can spend with this title. Perhaps games based in the era of Eden don't have multiplayer and extra game modes, but it is something that severely puts this title behind the pack in 2011.
Graphics - 10/10
Sound - 9.5/10
Gameplay - 7/10
Overall - 8.5/10