Child of Eden is an ambitious game, it’s bright, bold and different and in fact it has probably the strangest opening cutscene that you have ever seen in a game. This was never going to be a mainstream title, however spending some time with it will probably convince you that this is how motion gaming should be played.
Last year at Microsoft’s E3 press conference Child of Eden was shown as a Kinect compatible game and to be honest, even though you can play it with the controller, there is only one way to play this title if you want to make the most of it. Sure it’s fun enough with the controller, however playing with Kinect just gives a level of interaction that you don’t get sitting down. One of the things I noticed most about the Kinect control is that it’s never been so accurate, there is no lag or failure to pick up your movement and I’d probably go as far to say that this is the best I have seen Kinect work. Sure it’s frustrating at first and you begin to wonder if “this is it,” when you target the enemy with one hand and then flick to shoot at them, however once you get further into the game and end up using both hands you really get pulled in and to some extent lose all track of where you are. It’s brilliant.
Given I’ve never really been a big fan of motion gaming I have to say I’m pleasantly surprised. I started off not wanting to like the Kinect controls, however the longer I played the more I could feel the smile appearing on my face. I was starting to accept that this game played with Kinect is actually pretty great and despite my reservations I will play it again and show it off to friends too.
So let’s talk about the game itself. Child of Eden starts with one of the most bizarre openings I have ever seen. When the game begins it’s explained that man had stored all its knowledge of Earth on the internet (now known as Eden). We are then shown a young woman named Lumi wandering through her vision of Eden, which looks a bit like you would expect really – tranquil, quiet and full of flowers. Suddenly everything warps and her expression becomes one of horror, she is taken from us and we are told that we must “Save Eden, Save Lumi.”
As you would expect from a Kinect compatible game this title is very much on-the-rails, leading you down various paths and deeper and deeper into the virus which is corrupting Eden. There is some leeway in that you can turn and look around using the movement of your hands (or by using the controller), however the game generally takes you where you need to go.
The first level acts more like a tutorial, easing you into the game and showing you how to use your motion in order to get through the game. As you play through you will learn about your life (shown by a life bar in the bottom right corner) and how to take down enemies with your main gun as well as an alternative rapid-fire laser and your special move named Euphoria, which with Kinect sees you raise both hands above your head for a “wipe everything out on the screen” type effect. You will also learn how to gain more life by shooting at the blue sphere’s which occasionally grace the levels. Gaining special moves such as Euphoria is also achieved in the same way, albeit in the form of a purple sphere.
Now to be honest I don’t visit open days showing off art, I’m not a visitor of museums or art exhibitions and I certainly don’t eat cucumber sandwiches and wear a funny hat, while discussing the finer points of the latest Picasso or whatever. I do however appreciate the work that has gone into this title to make it visually stunning and I imagine that those who say games are not art will probably be forced to swallow their words after viewing this title. Some of the things you will see when playing this colourful, visually stunning game will astound you, even if you don’t understand why a painting that looks like it’s been drawn by a two year old is worth a million dollars.
As artistic as this game is, it would be nothing without the soundtrack which accompanies it. If there is one main reason to buy this game then this is it. The music is wonderfully composed and seems to fit into everything you do within the game. It’s also catchy, so much so that I want the soundtrack right now and so will you. No matter where you are in the game, as you watch the creatures you fire at evolve into something more natural, the music will accompany you. It’s very powerful, especially when combined with the visual splendor taking place on the screen.
If there is one issue with Child of Eden it’s that it is not very lengthy. Had this been a downloadable game, which to be honest I thought it was when it was first announced, then there could be no complaints. Given this is a full price title though it seems that there should be a lot more to it. Sure you can unlock stuff and post scores online, but how many games, even downloadable one’s don’t let you do that these days? It feels like we as gamers are forever being short changed with what’s included on a disc these days and this is another example. I guess we will just have to wait until the rest of the game comes out in downloadable content before we can enjoy it fully.
Negatives aside though, Child of Eden is a stunning game which is a fantastic departure from the norm. We are constantly bombarded with shooters and to be honest it’s wonderful to see such a unique and beautiful title arrive on the Xbox 360 for once.
Rating: Good Review policy
You can order Child of Eden here.