in Review

Sort of Sweet Child of Mine

Child of Eden

Child of Eden was clearly designed to be played with the Kinect. Since I don’t have one, I don’t know what I’m doing reviewing this game. When you factor in that I enjoyed, but didn’t necessarily love, Child of Eden‘s spiritual predecessor, Rez, I feel hardly qualified to talk about this game, nonetheless critique it. But here we are. And while I’ve always considered myself the type who backs away from a challenge, this one seems doable.

So it’s the future. Mankind has moved on out into deep space. The first person born in space, Lumi, had her consciousness transferred into the future Internet when she died. Now she’s come under attack by viruses or something and it’s up to you to save her. Even though she’s already dead. Information is important, damnit!

Of course the story doesn’t really matter that much, it’s merely an excuse for you to travel through some genuinely beautiful and trippy visuals. Like Rez, Child of Eden delivers a synesthetic experience that no other form of entertainment can match. It’s like a more beautiful, interactive Pink Floyd lazer light show. As important to the experience as the visuals is the music, which walks the thin line between techno and trance. Each song drives its level and you’ll have to attack with the rhythm of the music to get a high score.

Oh what’s that? You’d like to know how this game plays? Fair enough. It’s a sort of on-rails shooter. You can attack in two ways: a lock on attack and a rapid fire blast. Most enemies are best defeated with lock on, but every once in a while you’ll encounter an armored enemy who must be blasted down. More importantly, you’re rapid fire shots can take down incoming enemy fire. You also have bombs. Moving along…

Actually, I guess that’s enough. Child of Eden is a prettier, Kinect-enabled Rez. It’s five levels long, and each of those will take you about 10 minutes to beat. The game lengthens itself by demanding you repeat levels to unlock the next one, which would be more annoying if the game wasn’t so zen-like to begin with. My biggest complaint was the lack of checkpoints, when you die you’re booted all the way back to the main menu. That really sucked when I died toward the end of the last, and longest, level in the game. I get the feeling that with Kinect, Child of Eden could really be something. Playing it with just a controller, well, it was something.

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