Though Child of Eden has been out for weeks, it has not been getting a lot of attention. Shacknews goes back to examine whether or not Q Entertainment's latest is a hidden gem or best left undiscovered.
Child of Eden fell out of the spotlight quickly, and recent NPD data showed it never got much off the ground in the first place. Billed by the hardcore as a reason to own Microsoft's Kinect sensor, Child of Eden is the new game from Tetsuya Mizuguchi, mastermind behind such cult-hits as Rez and Space Channel 5. Like his previous work, the game attempts to fuse music with gameplay.
Child of Eden is based within a reality where the first person born in space, Lumi, has been digitally rebuilt and placed into the futuristic representation of the Internet in order to preserve her memories. Lumi soon comes under fire from a host of viruses and, in order to protect the last visage of this mortal woman and her thoughts, players must "purify" five memory archives to protect them. It's certainly a unique idea; the pervasive theme of purity is invigorating.
BOOM video 9507
So often games are about saving the world..the whole thing. Sometimes we lose sight of what that really means. In Child of Eden, you're only out to save one person, who happens to represent everything in the world. It's a beautiful idea, and executed in such a remarkable, emotional way.
With a controller, you are playing a game. The entire experience feels a lot like Rez. With Kinect, playing Child of Eden isn't so much about playing a game as it is about experiencing the music. It isn't about destroying targets as much as it is about creatively conducting its music. Child of Eden has the uncanny ability to prove how playing with Kinect can transcend "play" and offer an engaging, emotional experience rarely found in the medium of video games.
Kinect's default control scheme ties your right hand to a missile lock and fire weapon (the "Octo-Lock" laser) while your left hand unleashes a rapid barrage of bullets (known as the "Tracer"). With the right hand, players can paint up to eight targets and fire missiles with a quick forward thrust, while the left hand is reserved for specific enemies (they're purple) and incoming missiles. Defeating enemies in sync with the game's beautiful background music earns extra points, which add to the players rating that helps to unlock new archives to tackle. Over time, the experience of playing with Kinect turns into a rhythmic dance.
Playing with a controller is also a fun affair, but the world of Child of Eden begs to be played within using Kinect, rather than played with a pair of triggers and analog sticks.
Each of the archives is built upon a slowly peaking measure of music with suitable visuals. The beginning of each introduces elements at a leisurely pace before pushing a multitude of enemies in your path. If the action becomes too frantic (and Child of Eden can be a difficult game at times), raising both arms unleashes a screen-clearing move dubbed "Euphoria." At the crest of each musical piece, a boss character reveals itself that forces players to use all of the weapons in his or her arsenal.
Child of Eden may draw some complaints for its length. The game is extraordinarily short, wrapping up in less than three hours. If your typical strategy is to examine the price to gameplay ratio, you may want to temper your expectations. Looking past that, Child of Eden is magnificent from start to finish. The game begs to be played multiple times, which is required to completely purge the game world of negative energy and to unlock a host of items like visual and audio filters for the game, music videos from Q Entertainment's in-house band Genki Rockets, and more.
I've never heard a strong case for the idea that any game would be better if it was longer. Some may be perturbed by the brevity of Q Entertainment's latest, but never once did I feel cheated by the game's short campaign. Child of Eden is a priceless experience.
[Ed's note: It's easy to let games slip by over the summer so Shacknews is checking out a few recent releases to let you know if you might be missing something special]
Disclosure: The Child of Eden review is based on a final, Xbox 360 debug version of the game, provided by Ubisoft.