Sitting down to review Child of Eden I didn’t quite know what to expect. I had never played Rez or Rez HD and from looking at the front cover the only phrases that came to mind were ‘psychedelics wet dream’. Alas you should never judge a book by its cover and I’m so very happy I didn’t with Child of Eden.
The game is the brainchild of Tetsuya Mizuguchi who was the man behind Rez, Lumines and Space Channel 5. All of his titles seem to follow the same pattern of music, gaming and lots of colours, a combination that has yet to fail.
Child of Eden is at first glance a first person shooter, but with a pre-determined course to follow. A little like House of the Dead games of old whereby you could maybe make one or two decisions during the level but the destination was always going to be the same. Your journey will take you through a vast world fraught with peril by way of giant coloured orbs and mutated purple octopuses.
The story behind the game begins a few years in the future and the first human has been born on the International Space Station or ISS, the child is named Lumi. She spends her days peeling potatoes in the catacombs of the ISS longing to experience Earth. She expresses this by way of messages, most of them through the medium of songs which are sent down to Earth. The next step gets a bit tricky as she somehow makes a digital copy of herself and uploads it to the Internet which is now called Eden.
This is where you step in, not as some white knight or an uber assassin, but instead you’re essentially Norton, McAfee, Kapersky you’re task as the Child of Eden is to rid it of its many viral infestations. With each downed virus Eden’s archives become more and more purified which will ultimately help you raise Lumi from her slumber.
The way you rid Eden of these viruses is through the ‘Octo-Lock’, a small circular cursor that will lock onto eight targets at once, or you can opt to use the octo-lock machine gun (Tracer) which is needed for certain baddies. If you lock on to, and kill eight separate targets at once whilst shooting in time to the game’s music then you’ll receive additional bonus points, easier said than done. You do not need to kill the viruses in time to the beat, but it makes life easier when trying to unlock additional archives.
The archives all have their own theme it seems, you’ll find yourself taking down fully fledged diamond encrusted whales and at the same time attempt to dispatch a giant manta ray that happens to be floating by. Another archive has a more plant like feel to it with what almost seems like seaweed floating before you. There are also simply put a great deal of shapes, boxes, circles, rectangles, triangles all looking very kaleidoscopic. The game looks awe-inspiring; it is a beautiful sight in its own right. Its graphical prowess doesn’t match that of Battlefield or Black Ops, but it doesn’t need too. Coupled with the melodic music you’ll find this is the perfect game to play away those lazy Sundays.
The game also features your very own garden. As you complete each archive you can select an object to unlock, be it the giant manta ray as said above or maybe you’d prefer to see a shoal of miniature fish flying through your own personal space. These unlocks also give you reason to play through each archive time and again, not only improving your score but also providing you with more goodies for your back yard. Videos and conceptual art are also unlocked through playing each of the game’s archives. Once you reach a certain amount of points you’re rewarded with a survival mode which involves you getting the highest score possible whilst staying alive for as long as you can. Finally there’s the ‘Hard’ mode, enemies dish out double the damage making life a lot more difficult.
The one downside to Child of Eden you may find is that it is a very short game, the five archives will last you the better part of two hours and that’s about it. The unlocks do make for increased replayability, but that need to fill your garden up will only last so long before the same old routine will start to annoy you. Making the game more challenging will again make for a more enjoyable experience in the long run, but ultimately the game could do with a second set of archives.
The game does also have Kinect compatibility which is a neat feature. The octo-lock is controlled by your right hand and will follow your hand movements with inch perfect precision. To fire your lock-ons simply push the palm of your hand forward and watch with joy as you destroy your foes in an eruption of light. The tracer gun, as you have no doubt already figured, is powered using your left hand, the tracer is a key part of the game and this will be the one aspect which may take a little while to master if you are not left handed. Finally bombs are detonated by raising your hands above your head and then simply let them crash down.
In all Child of Eden, despite being a small game still has buckets of replayability which will keep you hooked for many hours. It’s amazing to look at, the music and rhythm of the game is second-to-none and the game’s compatibility with Microsoft’s latest peripheral makes for one of the better Kinect titles. The plot maybe hard to follow and your goal will make little sense, but it’s an incredible game which is in a whole genre of its own and a nice break from the usual ‘guns loaded’ games that are currently flooding the market. It’s safe to say Miz has made yet another storming title.