Games have been breaking down all sorts of walls and paradigms of late, and Child of Eden continues what Rez started back in 2002. Questioning just what exactly a game can be. On the surface, Child of Eden presents nothing more than an on-rails shooter experience, one of the more shallow gameplay experiences compared to the likes of a role playing game or a first person shooter. You have to lock-on to the enemies on screen before releasing a barrage of homing lasers at them. You also have a rapid fire laser meant to deflect enemy projectiles, but it deals very little damage to enemies. That’s it. That represents the entirety of the gameplay in Child of Eden, but paradoxically, it draws you in like any other, “deeper” games out there. It just does it in a rather unique way.
Child of Eden engenders a kind of auditory trance in the player that other games simply cannot achieve by connecting what the players see and hear. The various enemies in the game all give off a unique sound when hit by your lasers, and their demise bring about a mini explosion of colors and sound. More importantly, these sounds work in harmony with the music that plays through the level creating an entirely new soundtrack. Basically, you’re not really shooting down viruses on the Internet of the future, which by the way is the backstory behind Child of Eden. You’re conducting a techno orchestra creating a trippy, non-drug induced techno song.
Kinect promised to make a closer connection between the gamer and the game, and in Child of Eden it lives up to that promise, at a small price. Moving your hand around moves the on-screen reticule that locks on automatically to any enemies it passes by. Once you have a couple of enemies locked on, pushing your hand forward fires the lasers. Using the Kinect made the whole impromptu music making experience of Child of Eden very satisfying and engrossing compared to the sedentary experience via a controller, but it sacrifices accuracy in doing so.
The Kinect sensor seems to have some slight difficulty detecting your arms as it moves in front of your body making it feel a little bit less responsive when you’re using your right hand and trying to move the cursor to the left of the screen. Also, sometimes the Kinect sensor doesn’t seem to always detect the gesture for the smart bomb move, which has led to some unwarranted hits. Despite any of this though, Child of Eden and Kinect naturally works together really well thanks to how it forces you to move around. That may sound silly, but that’s like telling Salsa dancers dancing to Salsa music that they should sit down to enjoy the music.
Perhaps because Child of Eden strives to be a more auditory and visual experience and less a game experience, Child of Eden has a much higher replay value than one would suspect. Child of Eden has a variety of unlocks like artist renderings, concept art, and visual filters among others. These do motivate players to go back and replay the five short levels, six if you count the extra hard bonus level, but the real reward happens just by the very nature of replaying these levels. The single solitary act of destroying one enemy can bring about a brief, subtle but noticeable change to the music. Unless you successfully shot every enemy at the same exact time as before, every playthrough feels like a new experience made possible by human imperfection.
If Child of Eden sounds like one of those highbrow, artsy movies that only snooty, pretentious, artsy guys can enjoy, well then, I guess I’m a snooty, pretentious, artsy guy. Here’s something that might help. Child of Eden has something in common with music albums that try to loosely tell a story where each track doesn’t necessarily tell the order of events more so than the general moods of the story. By not being tied down to the needs of reality, Child of Eden is able to express the intermingling of sound and light. Like music, and coincidentally video games, the beauty of Child of Eden cannot be described. Only experienced.
- Beautiful imagery and a soundtrack to match
- Meaningful Kinect integration
- Looks like my pot dealer just lost a customer
- A bit short
- Challenge junkies need not apply
Ensrhine It! (5/5)
Confused about our score? See our Ratings Guide.