Could just as easily have been called “Trippy, Zappy, Boom, Boom Shooter” – but I can understand why it wasn’t.
Child of Eden is another trippy game from Tetsuya Mizuguchi, the man behind games such as Rez and Lumines. Upon starting the game, the player is treated to a brief description about what is going on. The long and short of it is that in the future all of Human history and knowledge is uploaded to a futuristic version of the Internet, known as Eden, along with the consciousness of a young girl called Lumi who was born on the International Space Station. Eden is now under attack by unknown viruses and the player is charged with stopping them.
Obviously with a game like this, the story is much prettier than I have described, and accompanied by an incredibly impressive opening sequence. But it doesn’t really make any difference how pretty the story is, as it really has no bearing what so ever on the game, which would be exactly the same without any story.
Child of Eden is an on-the-rails shooter with psychedelic graphics and a techno soundtrack. Since it is on the rails, players do not have to concern themselves with movement, but just shoot the bad guys on screen, which in this case come in the form of viruses. As you zap these invaders, they will produce a note that seamlessly integrates itself with the games’ background music, encouraging the player to find the rhythm of the game for the most pleasing audio outcome.
The game can be played with a regular controller, in which case it performs very well as a shooter and can be thoroughly enjoyed. But what makes the game really special is the inclusion of Kinect control. For this the player simply stands in front of the screen and moves their arms in certain motions to blast the enemies and create sweet music. The type of movement is dependent on which weapon they are using.
Octo-lock is the first weapon that the player will encounter, and is controlled using the right hand. Players can swipe their right hand across the screen, effectively marking eight targets. They then thrust their hand towards the screen in order to fire and destroy all targets that were marked. The other main weapon is the Tracer which is fired using the left hand and, although less powerful than the Octo-lock, fires quickly wherever you aim. This gun is handy for taking out missiles that are fired at the player. The player can also take out multiple enemies using the bombs, which are activated by thrusting both hands in the air.
Having played a number of titles that had unimpressive Kinect controls in the past, I must admit that I was dubious as to whether Child of Eden could measure up to the hype. I was impressed. The controls work with incredible accuracy and everything moves fluidly. Even in a small room I had no problem using the Kinect. I began the game using a controller, thinking that the Kinect experience would be sub-par. But, in fact, using Kinect raises this game to another level of enjoyment. The moves required for the various weapons soon become second nature and the player will find themselves flapping their arms in time with the music without even thinking about it in no time.
Then, just as things get really interesting, it is all over. The game has only five levels, which will take the average player around three hours to complete. There are two extra modes to unlock, Hard and Survival, which will increase the game time (possibly at the cost of the players sanity as these modes are very difficult) and there are videos, audio tracks and pieces of art to unlock, prompting further playthroughs. There is also the obligatory high score table for those wishing to be competitive.
At it’s most basic, Child of Eden is a high score chasing game. For those who are perhaps not so worried about chasing a high score, the question may be “What’s the point?”. I actually asked myself this question. Sure, the game looks and sounds great, and chasing high scores is fine for some, but otherwise why bother? But after playing the game for long enough to make my arms ache, I realised that the answer is “because it is fun”. There is no point beyond general enjoyment, and that is kind of refreshing. As kids we would often do things for no reason other than “because we felt like it” (and would quite often be told off for doing so). But then, as we grow up, everything has to have a reason, a purpose, a point. Child of Eden has a story, but at no point did I feel that I was invested in the character of Lumi, either did I feel any particular desire to save her. But still I kept playing because the game is fun. I could care less about what score I was managing to get, I just wanted to play, and that is the magic that has been created in Child of Eden.
This trippy, psychedelic, on-the-rails shooter may, on the surface, appeal only to shooter fans that would pump hours and hours into the game so that they may brag about their epic high scores. But beneath the surface, thanks in no small part to the Kinect, is a game that offers pure and simple fun. You don’t play because you have someone to save, you have another mission to complete or you need more virtual money to buy another virtual item in your virtual world. You play the game because you enjoy it, and enjoy it you will. Child of Eden is an experience unlike any I have come across in the video game world and should be picked up by anyone who owns a Kinect unit. It may only be short, but I recommend that you buy it now and zap stuff with your hands.